Undertaking a legacy: Moving into the future
By Kris Leonhardt
In 1953 John Rembs oversaw a difficult funeral as he laid his mother, Barbara, to rest.
Barbara was a native of France who had come to America with her family at the age of 8, settling in the Rozellville area. She married Louis Rembs in 1897, and the couple began a legacy that extended to their son John, who took over their funeral home business upon Louis’ retirement and subsequent death.
Following Louis’ death, John; John’s wife, Doris; and Doris’ sister Lucine; and Lucine’s husband, Joe Felhofer, took over the funeral business at the corner of Fourth Street and Chestnut Avenue.
In December 1960 John and Felhofer began work on a new, larger facility to replace their former location. Accommodating the city’s funeral needs would be a major enterprise.
It took nearly a year to complete the new structure at 300 S. Oak Ave. The estimated $100,000 building consisted of a single-story main section and a 44-by-34-foot attached garage. The four-stall garage joined to the basement and included a power lift to move supplies to the main floor.
The chapel area of the main building could be divided into two sections. Alongside the two chapel areas were two rooms included to give families privacy. With the two family rooms, the home could conduct four funerals at the same time.
The new amenities included a flower receiving room equipped for preparing arrangements, a smoking lounge on the lower level, a casket selection room, and a brick fireplace. A portrait of Louis Rembs was prominently displayed above the fireplace.
The formal opening of the solemn but grand building occurred the following September and consisted of a two-day affair to highlight the funeral home and its two new Cadillac Superiors. One was used as a funeral coach, and the other was a fully equipped ambulance.
On the staff at the time of the opening were John Rembs, funeral director; Lucine Felhofer and Doris Rembs, lady attendants; Joe Felhofer, funeral director/manager; DuWayne Kundinger, funeral director; Charles Laible, funeral director; and Douglas Koenig, apprentice.
Rembs Funeral Home continued to provide 24-hour ambulance service, in conjunction with funeral obligations, until the city of Marshfield took over in the early 1960s.