Funeral home owner says he is in Oskaloosa to stay
by Dennis Sharkey
Some recent personnel changes at Chapel Oaks Funeral Home have led to some confusion.
Owner Chris Hutton said the funeral home has received calls of confusion from patrons wanting to know if Chapel Oaks is closing. He said that not only is the funeral home not closing, improvements were just completed at the chapel in Meriden and improvements here in Oskaloosa should be completed in the coming weeks.
“Just because there is a change in personnel it doesn’t affect the funeral home one bit,” Hutton said. “We’re there and we will be just as good or better as ever.”
Both chapels are receiving new paint jobs inside and out along with new roofs and new landscaping. The chapel in Oskaloosa is getting a new porch.
Hutton said he has new staff in place at both locations. His oldest daughter, Marci Hutton Schreiner, will be holding afternoon hours at the chapel in Meriden. A local, Kathy Fox, is the new office manager in Oskaloosa and Michael Doering has been hired to be director of both facilities. Doering has extensive experience as a director in Kansas City. Nikki Smith, a recent mortuary school graduate, will also float between both offices.
“We’ll actually have more personnel there in Oskaloosa than we did before,” Hutton said.
Hutton also holds a funeral director’s license and his wife, Susan, will fill in as an assistant director when needed. Hutton also has three other directors who help operate his 10 Chapel Oaks Funeral Homes.
Hutton’s family has been involved in the monument business for more than 138 years in Topeka and he built his first funeral home in Holton in 1988, having never been involved in that side of the business before.
In 1993 Hutton purchased the funeral home in Onaga and then purchased homes in Hiawatha and Horton four years later.
In 1999 he built homes in Highland and Hoyt and two years later built another in Lawrence.
Hutton purchased the Meriden and Oskaloosa funeral homes in the fall of 2001 and in the last six months he has opened a new home in Topeka.
Hutton said he is quite familiar with Oskaloosa and his daughter Marci attended grade school in Oskaloosa. He said his group of funeral homes is strong and patrons who already have pre-need files need not worry about the stability of Chapel Oaks.
“That funeral home will be there long after I’m gone,” he said.
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