There are not many businesses that get to claim their 125th anniversary. Bruce Funeral Home has been serving Gardner, Edgerton, Spring Hill, DeSoto, and other surrounding areas for over 50 years. The Bruce Funeral Home has been recognized as the oldest continuously owned business established in Johnson County.
The first undertaker in Spring Hill was W.H. Rutter, who in 1884 also had a furniture store. His son, W.H. Rutter continued in the business until he sold the furniture and undertaking business to Eli Davis and his son, Ralph. They later sold to Paul O. Coons, who served as the secretary of the Kansas Funeral Directors Association for many years. P.O. Coons then sold the business to Lloyd H. Wilcox who in turn sold it to Roy Bruce. The chapel in Spring Hill was remodeled in the mid-90's, both the exterior and interior areas. Property for a new location at Webster & 217th was purchased in 2002. The downtown chapel was sold in 2003 and the new chapel was opened in 2005.
The year of 2008 also marked the 123rd anniversary of the first furniture store and undertaking business in Gardner. The first business in Gardner was started in 1885, by Peter J. Murphy. In 1914, President Wilson appointed Murphy postmaster. The business was sold to J.W. Stanley of Blue Springs, Missouri. Fire destroyed several downtown buildings that winter, and Stanley's daughter Grace and her husband Harry Patteson, took over the business and ran it until his death in 1949. That year Roy and Betty Bruce purchased the funeral home from Grace Patteson. The Bruce family continues to own and operate the business.
In 1957, Roy Bruce bought a historic brick home. Built in 1895, the large house was home to the founder and president of the Farmers Bank, F.W. Sponable. In 1962, the Bruce Funeral Home was built by adding a large chapel, family room, music room and second chapel on the main floor, and an apartment upstairs. In 2002 the front porch was completely rebuilt.
Roy Bruce passed away in 1993. Betty, a licensed funeral director, continued an active role in the business until she passed away in 1999. Roy and Betty's daughter, Shirley, currently serves as president. Shirley had the privilege of being the first woman to serve as the president of the Kansas Funeral Directors Association during the 1994-1995 term.
Shane Brown, Shirley's son, continues the family tradition. A University of Kansas and Kansas City Kansas Community College graduate, he is a licensed Funeral Director and embalmer. Scott Brown, also Shirley's son, has his Assistant Funeral Director's license and manages the monument sales division of the Funeral Home.
Also employed by Bruce Funeral Home are Deb Willnauer, Office Manager and Assistant Funeral Director; Christine Hecke of Spring Hill, a licensed Funeral Director and embalmer; and part-time employees: Missy Brown, Assistant Funeral Director, Ryan Pendroy, Lonnie VanArsdale, and Marilyn George.
Bruce Funeral Home strives to meet the needs of families through many forms. Pre-planning services have been available since the 1960's. These include trust and personal insurance. Monuments in many styles are also available. Our family believes it is an honor to continue the tradition of 131 years of continuous service to the families in our communities.