Chillicothe Mortuary opens doors again

Karen Danner
Cutting the ribbon: The Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new management at Chillicothe Mortuary with a ribbon cutting Monday. Attending were, from left: Christy Beesley, chamber facilitator; Irv Latta, chamber vice president; Teresa (Smith) Newton, family assistant; Diane Denekas, chamber ambassador; Dr. Rob Crothers, chamber president; Harry Hall, chamber board member; Don Clary, funeral director; Deanna Roach, mortuary employee; Terri Alvarez, chamber member; Mayor Gary Fyke, Ben Alvarez, chamber board member, Sheri Sutherland, chamber ambassador; and not pictured, Dianne Colwell, chamber board member.

After a long period of inactivity, Chillicothe Mortuary is up and running under the management of Don Clary.

Although the funeral home has been in operation for about one month, the official opening kicked off with a ribbon cutting Monday.

Clary said he has taken over management with the option to purchase the business, although it is still owned by Ken McKitrick.

Due to health concerns, McKitrick has been unable to operate the funeral home as it should be, Clary said.

Clary said McKitrick first called him in 2005, but he was not interested in the business at that time.

McKitrick contacted Clary again in April, and this time, Clary was ready to make a move.

“I basically got tired of working for a big national conglomerate,” said Clary.

“I wanted to provide families with better service in a great facility, with great service at a reasonable cost.”

Chillicothe Mortuary, located at the corner of Truitt Avenue and Fourth Street, first opened in 2002.

When plans dissipated for McKitrick and Victor Dzekunskas to operate the funeral home, McKitrick’s health overshadowed the business operation.

Clary, who has run Clary Funeral Home in Peoria since 2005, said McKitrick sold his other two funeral homes, located in Henry and Washburn, to Calvert.

But, since Chillicothe Mortuary did not have a business history and was simply considered real estate, Calvert was not interested in acquiring it.

To date, a lot of work has been done on the building, such as painting and redecorating, said Clary.

Clary worked in Decatur, his hometown, from 1993-2001.

In 2001, he was recruited by Service Corporation International, based out of Houston, which operates eight funeral homes in Peoria, including Davison-Fulton Anderson Chapel in Chillicothe.

He worked there until 2005, when he opened his own business.

Now taking on a second funeral home, Clary said they have replaced some exterior lights and cleaned up the Chillicothe Mortuary property.

Old furniture from the 1960s and ‘70s and the drapes have been replaced, and the pews have been moved back from the casket area to allow for more space.

Chillicothe Mortuary staff can be reached at 274-8866, or visit the Web site at www. chillicothemortuary.com.

The Web site provides not only information about Clary, but also various options available and pricing information.