After four generations and more than 100 years in the Dreisinger family, the Dreisinger Funeral Home has changed hands, but the name will stay the same.
Monty Steenson bought the business from John Dreisinger on Aug. 1, but it will remain the Dreisinger Funeral Home.
“It’s been Dreisinger Funeral Home for over 100 years and four generations of service, so there’s no real good reason to change the name,” Steenson said.
Dreisinger’s has a long history in Elmira, going back to 1905 when Christian Dreisinger bought it from a Mr. Ruppel. In those days, the business was located at 7 Arthur St. N., the longtime home of what became Dreisinger’s Furniture before the building was sold and torn down to make way for Shoppers Drug Mart now on the corner lot. The Royal Bank was located at the same address; when it moved across the street to its current location, Chris Dreisinger bought the building.
Chris’ son George took over the business, and later his son David and daughter Hazel were partners in the family enterprise. In 1978, John Dreisinger became the fourth generation of the family to own the funeral home.
John Dreisinger is retired now, although he is still licenced and helps out at the funeral home when needed. The business is still connected to the Dreisinger family through funeral director Grace Maher, who is Hazel’s daughter.
Although there is a new face at the helm, it’s not a completely unfamiliar one: Steenson has provided support to Dreisinger’s over the past three and a half years.
Steenson has roots in the area, as his grandmother Nellie was a primary teacher who spent most of her career in Elmira. Monty grew up on his grandmother’s farm in Mornington Township, west of Linwood.
Steenson has been a funeral director for 30 years. He had relatives who worked in funeral services, and when he was in high school, he looked into it as a career option.
After completing his apprenticeship with Ratz-Bechtel Funeral Home in Kitchener, Steenson worked for that company for eight years at their Hamilton and Niagara Falls locations. He then joined the staff of Coutts Funeral home in Cambridge, which he managed for 16 years.
“I’ve really never looked back,” he said. “I’ve had an excellent career and this is a wonderful opportunity in my career to look after Dreisinger’s.”
Monty will be joined by his wife Karen, who has 15 years experience as a church administrator. The Steensons have moved into the house attached to the funeral home, which has been empty for 16 years.
“I think we’re going to enjoy living here,” Karen said. “Everybody’s been really friendly here, everybody’s been very welcoming.”
Because Steenson has helped out at Dreisinger’s for several years, the transition to the new ownership has been a smooth one.
Aside from the ownership change, Steenson said there will be few other changes at Dreisinger’s. The rest of the staff will stay the same, and the funeral home will continue to provide the same services.
“I think that people are comforted by that, the continuity of the people they’re dealing with.”