We think that it is important for families we serve to see familiar faces at a time when they need comfort and understanding. It just seems to make a difficult situation a little easier.
Our employees deserve to be in the spotlight because much of our success is due to their dedication and caring, and we want to give credit where credit is due. I appreciate the staff's dedication and loyalty and I owe them a debt of gratitude. Without them, we would not be able to enjoy the success we have today.
However, their dedication and loyalty are not limited to the funeral home, these traits are also extended to our city and surrounding communities. All members of our staff are either native Franklin Counties or longtime residents. They have a vested interest in the future of this county, because their children and grandchildren are here; their roots are here.
They are not only good employees; they are good neighbors and friends, who are proud to live here and who take an active part in making it a good place to live.
We see a bright future for this community and the surrounding area. Our county is growing, and we are all very excited to be a part of it.
Craig Louis Dengel, the Managing Funeral Director of Dengel & Son Mortuary, is the third generation to manage Dengel & Son Mortuary. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Walter, and his grandfather, Louis. As a youngster of twelve, he began his career in the funeral business at the bottom of the ladder, washing cars and mowing the lawn for his grandfather at the funeral home. He continued helping at the funeral home all through high school and during the summers while in college.
Craig graduated from Ottawa High School in 1978, from Kansas City Community College with an Associate Arts Degree in Mortuary Science in 1980, and from Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1983. After college, he returned to Ottawa and joined his father in business.
In 1988, he married Cynthia Lee. Although Cindy was born in Japan and in 1978 graduated high school in San Diego and later graduated from Baker University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management, she has family roots here in Ottawa and Franklin County. Her father, Joe and Craig’s father, Walt graduated from Ottawa High School together in the same class of 1954.
Craig and Cindy have 3 children: Jennifer lives in Olathe and is a registered nurse; Christina lives in Perry and is a grade school teacher and Chase lives in Ottawa and we are proud to announce that after graduating from mortuary science school he is the 4th generation funeral director/embalmer at Dengel & Son. Craig and Cindy have 6 grandchildren.
Craig is proud to be a third generation funeral director serving Ottawa, continuing the family tradition of excellence in funeral service. Growing up in Ottawa, being a part of this community, having lifelong friendships and acquaintances, influence his every business decision. This is more than just business to Craig; this is a personal commitment to friends and neighbors.
Walt Dengel, son of the founder of Dengel & Son Mortuary, Louis Dengel, grew up in Ottawa and graduated from Ottawa High School in 1954. He grew up living in an apartment on the second story of the funeral home with his parents, Louie and Vada Dengel and his sister, Naomi. He has many fond memories growing up in Ottawa and often recalls events that happened years ago with his coffee buddies. Living on top of a funeral home had its own special memories.
After high school he went to Emporia State Teacher’s College where he met his future wife, Clarice Steffes. After college and a stint in the Army, Clarice and Walt were married in her hometown of Olpe, Kansas in 1958. In short order they had three children, Craig, Carol and Mark.
In 1961, Walt brought Clarice and family to his hometown, Ottawa, and went to work for his Dad, Louie, at the funeral home. Walt and Louie worked together until Louie died in 1973 and Walt took over the reins of the funeral home. The kids were getting older and Clarice began helping at the funeral home.
Walt welcomed oldest son, Craig into the business in 1983. It was a good partnership. In 1998, Walter and Clarice retired from the funeral business and sold the funeral home to son Craig. They bought a second home in Florida and spent eight months every year there for fourteen years.
Walt and Clarice moved back to Ottawa permanently in 2013. They said it was time to come home. Walt is so happy to be able to help at the funeral home. He is renewing old friendships and visiting with people he hasn’t seen in years. He is in his element. Clarice is equally happy to be back home, enjoying old friends and being close to family.
Kim Hopkins filled a new position at Dengel & Son Mortuary in Ottawa. Previously, owner Craig Dengel took care of the “business” side of the business. Craig spent a lot of time in his office paying bills, taking care of payroll and organizing documents for an outside agency. Craig would much rather have been working with families. When three funeral homes in Miami County were added to Dengel & Son Mortuary, this created a new position for someone to take responsibility of the company’s bookwork.
In September of 2018, Kim took that responsibility and has done an excellent job ever since. She didn’t exactly learn from scratch the inner workings of our business. Kim formerly worked as an accountant for 32 years for Greenfield & Davidson, Chartered and while there, our funeral home was one of her accounts. We knew her work ethic and how proficient she was, so we are grateful to have her here. Craig is now back doing what he loves, working with families and has no worries about the books now that Kim has taken on the job.
Kim’s job is not all about numbers, occasionally you will find her in the front office answering the phone and greeting visitors. She is one of the nicest people you will meet. Kim is friendly and always has a smile on her face.
Kim is a Franklin County local. She grew up in Michigan Valley, attended Appanoose Elementary and graduated in 1984 from Pomona High School. She furthered her education by attending Allen County Community College earning her associate degree. Kim has lived in Ottawa for more than 35 years and as a single mother raised two daughters all on her own. Kim worked long hours to provide for her family but is quick to give credit to her parents for their help. Her daughters reflect the great job she did raising them. One daughter has a bachelor’s degree in education and the other daughter has a doctorate in physical therapy. That is a success story of a determined woman! Besides spending time with her girls and grandchildren, Kim likes to read, bake and quilt.
Chase Dengel is the fourth generation of the Dengel family to join Dengel & Son Mortuary. Chase grew up in Ottawa and graduated from Baker University in 2013 where he played baseball and earned a degree in business. He worked for a few years in Kansas City in managerial positions. When we purchased three funeral homes in Miami county in 2018, we needed him, and he stepped up.
Since joining the firm, he has been studying for his Mortuary Science Degree. This includes science, business and law courses. As for the practical side of embalming, his dad Craig, is teaching him the art of embalming and instilling in him the importance of doing it right no matter how long it takes. Chase is lucky to be able to learn both at the same time.
Presently, he oversees all cremations and monument sales. We do many cremations in the course of a year. We installed a state-of-the-art crematory several years ago and we have area funeral homes depending upon us to do their cremations as well. In addition, we do the cremations for our funeral homes in Miami County. When Chase is not in the crematory, he enjoys helping families design meaningful works of art on monuments to pay tribute to their loved ones. Of course, he is always involved when funerals, burials and visitations are held. There is much to be learned that is not found in books.
Chase’s main goal is the continued success of Dengel & Son Mortuary. He wants to ensure that our funeral home continues our family tradition of excellence in funeral service when we celebrate our 100th year anniversary of serving Ottawa and Franklin County in 2044.
Debby has worked in the funeral profession for 25 years. Prior to that, she worked at the Osawatomie State Hospital and the United States Department of Agriculture Compliance Department in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband Shane have been married 32 years and have three daughters Steffany (Josh) Madden, Kaylee (Trevor) Hurt, and Kelsey (Anthony) Nolte. Their pride and joy are their four grandchildren Jayden and Sayge Madden, Kaydee Hurt, and Grayson Nolte.
Debby was born in Ottawa, Kansas. At that time, her family lived in Richmond, Kansas. Her father Kenneth New was originally from Greeley, Kansas and her mother Marilyn (Roush) New was originally from Princeton, Kansas. When Debby was 5 years old, they moved to Paola where she grew up and attended school graduating from Paola High School with the Class of 1980. She earned her Associate of Science degree through Fort Scott Community College and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
She and her husband live on a small private lake in rural Lane, Kansas where she enjoys paddle boarding and jet skiing. She also likes baking, bicycling, watching movies, cross stitching, traveling, and completing jig-saw puzzles. She stays very active in the community being a member of the Osawatomie Rotary Club and Lane Methodist Church. She has served on the board of directors for Osawatomie Chamber of Commerce as well as the Paola Chamber of Commerce. She assists with delivering Meals on Wheels in Osawatomie and Paola, is a volunteer for the American Red Cross, a Business Partner with Osawatomie Trojan Elementary classes, and is on the board of directors for Grief Comfort. Her favorite pastime, is the time she spends with her family and friends.
Lee has worked for us two years. We were looking for someone to work part-time to help with funerals, visitations and to go on “first calls” when there is a death. We feel very fortunate to have found Lee. If you have attended a visitation or funeral, you probably interacted with a kind and helpful, well dressed gentleman. That gentleman was Lee. When he goes to a home or a hospital for a “death call”, he is very professional and kind. He is a man you can trust.
He retired from the US Navy and has traveled the world over twice and has been in every state in the nation. He still enjoys traveling with his wife JoAnna. He grew up in this part of the country and attended various schools, including Ottawa.
He enjoys many activities including fishing, golfing, biking, as well as yoga, martial arts, woodworking and gardening.
Bud Stratton started working for Dengel & Son in September of 2017 and that was a very fortunate day for us. He is a “jack of all trades” and is good at all of them. He always has a smile and a friendly greeting.
He helps us by working in many different capacities. He is a natural when working funerals and visitations because of his compassion for people and talent for putting them at ease during a difficult time. Many times, he is “on call” to make our “first calls”. When he goes on a first call, he is very professional and always treats the body with utmost respect. Whether it is a removal from a hospital or home, family present or not present kindness and understanding is always displayed.
We seem to rely upon Bud to do a variety of physical tasks. He helps with the mowing, snow removal and a great deal of our monument installation. Bud is a retired contractor, so we ask him to help with all kinds of maintenance needs at all our locations.
Bud grew up in San Bernardino, California, and after a stint in the U.S. Army from ’72 to ’78, he moved to Ottawa in 1993, raising his family until 2005. He then moved to Parker, Colorado, and in 2016 moved back to Ottawa to be with family. Bud and his wife Kay have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
When he is not at work, Bud is busy watching his grandchildren’s sporting events, riding his bicycle, playing golf, fishing, gardening and woodworking. Bud is also very active in his church doing all kinds of volunteer work. With all this on his plate, Bud and Kay still find time to enjoy traveling. In the past he has been on the board of Habitat for Humanity and was a member of the Southwest Medical team serving the poor in Mexico. Bud is a very active and busy “Jack”.
Brett Silance has been working for Dengel & Son since June 2018. He started at the Louisburg facility before he graduated from high school. He found a passion early in his teens helping others during their time of loss. To that end he graduated from Kansas City Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science. He graduated Cum Laude and was a regular on the President’s Honor Roll.
He is licensed as a Kansas Funeral Director, Embalmer and Crematory Operator. He worked with us during his apprenticeship, and we are extremely happy of the progress he has made throughout. Brett is proficient in operating our crematory as well as meeting with families and directing funeral services as a Funeral Director. Although he is based in Louisburg, you can find him assisting at all three funeral homes, Ottawa, Paola and Louisburg. He is a hard worker and we appreciate his good work ethic.
Brett was raised in Louisburg and graduated from Louisburg High School in 2019. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his parents and two older brothers. When he is not with his family he likes to hang out with his friends. He also helps organize fundraisers for the scholarship in memory of his uncle.
Brett is a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Louisburg. He is also a 3rd degree Knight with the Knights of Columbus Council #12437.
If you are wondering why a young man, not even out of high school, would choose a career in the funeral business, this is one of the reasons why. Brett lost three family members in just four years and because of this experience he thought he could be of help to families going through a similar loss.
Nicki Dozier has been working for Dengel & Son since November 2019. She is the office manager at the Louisburg facility and has a myriad of responsibilities. Everyone knows this is the position that is the key to a successful business. Nicki fills that roll and does an excellent job of keeping everything running smoothly.
Before Nicki came to work for us, she worked seven years as an item specialist for a packing distributor. Prior to that she ran an in-home childcare business for twelve years.
Nicki, a lifelong resident of Louisburg, has two daughters she is very proud of. Nicki and her daughters are all graduates of Louisburg High School and coincidentally had classes taught by the same teachers. Two years ago, Nicki was united in marriage to Tom and together they enjoy their three dogs.
In her spare time, Nicki is a crafter, making gifts to give to friends and family. In addition, she likes to read, take long walks and hang out with her friends at the pool. She also likes to cook for friends and family.
Nicki finds pleasure in helping other people and looks for ways to brighten someone’s day. She believes in paying forward to the community that has been so good to her family growing up. Nicki is a member of the Louisburg Chamber of Commerce, volunteers in the concession stand at several local sporting events and is a frequent blood donor to the Community Blood Center.
Ava White has been with Dengel & Son over a year now, but it didn’t take us long to know we made a good choice. You will see her at most funerals and visitations. She is compassionate and that is the kind of person we need to serve the families and friends who have suffered a loss.
She spent her childhood in and around Wichita but has lived most of her life in Louisburg. She spent her career as a librarian in the Rockville and Broadmoor Elementary Schools for twenty-nine years. Prior to that she worked for twelve years as a librarian for the Louisburg Public Library. Ava attended Louisburg schools and had some of the same teachers as her two sons.
We can say with much certainty that almost everyone in Louisburg knows Ava. To see a familiar face when you come into a funeral home is very comforting. It is just as nice to be greeted by someone you know who can put you at ease and show compassion in a difficult time. Ava can do just that.
Ava’s husband, Keith, is deceased. Her two boys have given her six grandchildren whom she really enjoys, the oldest is twenty-one and youngest eleven. She has a green thumb and likes growing flowers and vegetables in her garden. While Ava worked for the school district she served on many educational committees. Now she has free time to do more reading and working crossword puzzles.
One of her favorite things to do is to meet four of her classmates from Louisburg High School for lunch every month. Oh sweet memories!
Funeral Director Chadwick D. Wilson is a life-long Paola resident. A third generation funeral director, he was raised in the funeral home and grew up helping in and around the funeral home. He joined his father Charles and grandfather Roy in the family business in 1974 and continues to provide Paola families with service and comfort to this day.
Chad is a former president of the Paola Lions Club, Ambassador Club member, Paola Country Club Men's Association president, former Red Cross safety director and First Presbyterian Church deacon.
Cindy is one of our newer employees at the Paola facility and she has proven to be an excellent choice.
She retired from First Option Bank and discovered she missed being around people and wasn’t ready to give that up. Lucky for us, because Cindy is just the person we needed. She works part-time answering the phone and greeting visitors. She also assists with visitations and funerals. People like seeing a familiar face and a friendly person when they come to the funeral home. That describes Cindy!
Cindy grew up in Osawatomie and resumed working in Osawatomie 16 years ago after working in Paola for many years. She reconnected with old friends and made new friends. That was not hard for her to do. She is a very outgoing person. In her free time, she enjoys taking day trips and going to the movies with friends. She also enjoys flower gardening, reading and photography.
Donna is based in Paola but there are times she is called upon to help at our the Louisburg location. She has been working part-time for 10 years. She is a very valued employee; she is friendly and always has a smile on her face. Donna grew up in Paola and worked 25 years for Auburn Pharmacy, so there are not many people she doesn’t know. When you have suffered a loss it sure helps to see a familiar face with a sympathetic ear.
Donna lost her husband, David, in 2000. She has two children, Angela and David and two grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys going to movies, garage sales, cruises, casinos, reading and spending time with her friends.
One of the things Donna enjoys about her job is that she has the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. And they are glad to see her again too.