Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quisenberrys plan expansion toward Basehor

Longtime Tonganoxie funeral directors cite area’s growth

August 17, 2006

The owners of Quisenberry Funeral Home last week closed on a real estate deal that will allow them to expand their business -- toward Basehor.

Calvin and Susan Quisenberry join at least one other funeral home group in trying to establish a funeral home near Basehor. The other group, led by Jason Gorup, has met with opposition in their plans to build a funeral home and crematorium near downtown Basehor. The city planning commission turned thumbs down on the proposal, and the city council is poised to consider it Monday.

But the Quisenberrys don't believe they will face any of the roadblocks that Gorup has encountered.

The couple have purchased the Roy Hill home that includes a seven-acre tract on the north side of U.S. Highway 24-40, just east of 178th Street.

"That's going to allow us plenty of room for future growth and ample parking," Calvin Quisenberry said. "The plans are to do some remodeling to the current structure that we're going to use part for the funeral home and part for staff living and then to add a nice chapel and visitation rooms."

The couple plan to live in part of the 38-year-old home. And they will use the other portion of the house -- along with a 3,000-square-foot addition on the home's east side -- for the funeral home, which will total about 7,000 square feet. Parking will be constructed in what now is the home's front yard.

"We've been working on this since last December, trying to get the property platted and rezoned," Quisenberry said. "It is zoned light commercial right now. We're zoned correctly."

He noted that while the funeral home will be a full-service business, it will include no crematory and no embalming will be done at that site.

"We'll put no chemicals in the groundwater there," he said, noting the property was served by a well.

And Quisenberry emphasized that he will not close his longtime Tonganoxie business.

"This is going to be a satellite facility of our main office in Tonganoxie," he said. "In years to come, with the nice growth in the Basehor area, I envision that in 10 years or more that this will be the principal business location."

While the couple have many steps to take before they can open at their new site -- including selling their home on Hubbel Hill in Tonganoxie -- they're hopeful the new funeral home will open in about a year.

Access to the new funeral home will be off Bayside Drive. That relatively new road runs on the north side of Schmidt Lumber and will be extended west to 178th Street so it runs on the north side of the new funeral home. And the Quisenberrys will close the access points to U.S. Highway 24-40.

Quisenberry said he believes his new location less than three miles from Holy-Field Winery is ideal.

"We're not sitting in downtown Basehor, but it's obvious townspeople prefer it that way," he said, referring to the outcry from nearby residents against the Gorup plan.

Susan Quisenberry, 53, who until earlier this year operated Village Floral in Tonganoxie, said she and her husband are eager to face a new challenge. She plans to obtain an assistant funeral director license.

"I'm still employed by the funeral home," she said. "I always have been. With two locations, it will be better to have one more person."

The Quisenberrys purchased the funeral home in 1978 from Calvin's parents. And Calvin began working at the business in 1969.

And now, the family tradition continues.

The couple's son, Brian Quisenberry, plans to graduate in December from Kansas City Kansas Community College with a degree in mortuary science. Brian currently is a licensed assistant director. In early 2007, he'll apply for a full licensing. And the couple's daughter, Heather Quisenberry, who is a student at Johnson County Community College, will continue to work at the funeral home as an administrative assistant.

Brian and Heather Quisenberry are the fourth generation of their family in the funeral home business in Tonganoxie.

In the late 1800s, Calvin Quisenberry's great-grandfather served as the local grocer, postmaster and undertaker. And in 1946, Quisenberry's father and mother, Hervey and Dorothy Quisenberry, purchased the business that their son operates today.

"I remember my dad talking about having to use the tractor to pull the hearse in the mud up to the cemetery so they could have a burial when he first came back from World War II and bought the funeral home from Rumsey brothers," the 58-year-old Quisenberry said.

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