Now & Then Volume 1, 2023 | Page 19

my dad came back , the snowball started rolling and growing , and we started serving more families very quickly .
“ Throughout the 1980s , that was very substantial . We recognized we needed more room to be able to take care of more people .”
of the funeral home has been the spousal support . None of the wives had any meaningful background in a funeral home , but Reece III said “ they take care of a lot of the behindthe-scenes responsibilities .”
Reece III is married to Lisa , a Blakesburg native , while his mother is Karen Reece , and both work at the funeral home .
“ Our wives have really been that backup , where they
support what we do . They ’ re beside us all the time ,” he said . “ We ’ ve got a pretty good-sized staff , but what our wives understand is that you don ’ t have weekends free , you work all the time and when the phone
Reece Funeral Home is a busy place despite the low-key atmosphere , as it has three licensed funeral directors , a licensed apprentice and an intern , in addition to four others who work in the office . Obituaries pour in daily , and not long ago the business began live-streaming funerals as a way for loved ones to view the proceedings if they aren ’ t able to in person , largely stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic .
However , just like the business started from scratch has been passed through generations , generations of families have entrusted the funeral home with their loved ones over the years , even if those families are far away . Reece III said his funeral home works with others out of state to make sure bodies are brought back for burial .
“ We ’ re serving more and more from outside Ottumwa all the time , and that ’ s been a change . They all have connections to here ,” Reece III said . “ We ’ ve had services for people that died in North Carolina and Wisconsin . We have a flight getting in for somebody from Arizona , from Oklahoma City , Austin , Texas .
Photos : Above : A picture of Reece Funeral Home from 1954 . The funeral home , located on East Second Street , has been in the same location since 1939 . Many properties were purchased by the Reece family as its funeral home business grew . Major renovations were completed in 1996 and 1997 . Photo courtesy of the Michael Lemberger Collection
“ These are all people who do not live here , but Ottumwa is home for whatever reason , and so we ended up flying all their bodies back here , and having services for those families here ,” he said .
Another aspect to the success
Right : A picture of Reece Funeral Home in its formative years . Carroll and Marie Reece opened the funeral home on West Second Street in 1929 , under the name of Carroll Reece Mortuary Chapel . It was next door to Sullivan Memorial Chapel , which was owned by Charles Sullivan , Carroll Reece ’ s uncle . Photo provided by the Reece Family
Now & Then 19