Undertaking a legacy: Rembs Funeral Home’s 120-year history
By Kris Leonhardt
In 1897 Jacob Sturm and Louis Rembs purchased the Valentine Weber furniture store on the corner of what are now Third Street and Central Avenue.
Naming their business Rembs & Sturm, they carried a full furniture line and provided undertaking and embalming services — a strange combination for sure but not when you consider that coffins in those days were pine boxes.
While Sturm took charge of the new enterprise, Rembs continued to operate an existing store he owned.
Two years later, Rembs and Sturm purchased a second-hand furniture store belonging to J.W. Vaughn and moved the stock to Rembs’ store.
The following year Rembs and Sturm officially discontinued their partnership. While advertising at that time gave the impression that the dissolution of the business was unplanned, it may have been a sales tactic after stock had been doubled, which called for savings to the customers to unload the large supply of product.
Rembs and Sturm, however, stayed connected through other business dealings and surely maintained a relationship.
From the time that Rembs purchased Sturm’s interest in Rembs & Sturm for a sum of $2,625, the enterprise became known as Louis Rembs – Furniture Dealer, Undertaking, and Embalming. That same year, the second-hand furniture store was sold to Ferd. Braem.
Rembs continued a successful business with his family at his side. In 1916 Rembs’ son John, who had been assisting in the business, obtained his license as an embalmer. It was believed at the time that John was the youngest licensed embalmer in the country at the age of 21.
In the early 1920s, the Rembs extended their business interest to California. Operating a large funeral home known as the McDermitt Funeral Chapel in Santa Barbara, California, they engaged the help of former Marshfield resident Martin Clune to oversee the operations.
Louis had plans of relocating to Santa Barbara. However, in 1925 he sold the California business to Clune. In July of that same year, an earthquake hit California, and the funeral home experienced nearly $10,000 of damage. Rembs traveled to assess the damage, which was mostly to the exterior of the building.
The funeral home would be veneered in a new, Spanish-style design.
Next week: The home on Fourth Street