Holly Funeral Home is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
“It’s the oldest business in town,” said Steve Johnson.
Johnson and Mike Jungers are the co-owners of the funeral home, founded in 1865 by A.J. Holly.
Its original location was in the former Office Outfitters building, on the corner of Main and Fulton streets in downtown Waupaca.
The business has been at the corner of Main and Lake streets for decades, and in the 2014 Best of Waupaca Area Contest, was voted the No. 1 funeral home.
“We’re honored that people think that of us,” said Jungers.
Johnson said, “We thank the community for all their support over our 150 years.”
It was early in the 20th century that the funeral home moved to South Main Street.
That was after A.J. Holly built a house in that area, the home which is located next door to the current funeral home.
“A.J. Holly built that home,” Johnson said. “His son Roy moved in, and then A.J. bought the old, abandoned home next to the Holly house. He remodeled it into the funeral home.”
It remained the funeral home until 1997, when the current building was constructed on the site.
Both Johnson and Jungers considered other careers before deciding to become part of the business.
Tom Holly hired Johnson.
“Tom came back after World War II and got his mortuary license and worked with his dad, Roy Holly,” Johnson said.
Jungers’ father Romie grew up in Amherst, the son of a funeral director, and after apprenticing with Tom Holly, was hired full time at Holly’s.
Johnson’s family also had a background in the business.
“My grandparents were funeral directors in Almond,” he said. “I fell in love with the business and went to mortuary school.”
That was after Johnson started working for Tom Holly during a summer he was home from college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Johnson started full time at the funeral home in 1977.
Five years later, Tom Holly sold the business to Johnson and Romie.
When Romie retired in 2000, Johnson and (Mike) Jungers became partners.
Like Johnson, Jungers was a student at UW-Oshkosh when he began to think about joining the business.
“I always had thought about it,” Jungers said.
With a couple years of college left, he decided to apprentice in the summer and found he liked the business.
After graduating from UW-Oshkosh with a business degree, Jungers went to Milwaukee Area Technical College, just as Johnson did.
In 1991, Jungers joined Holly Funeral home.
“We encourage kids that if they’re going into the profession, to apprentice in a funeral home to get the feel if they like it first. We like to think we train our apprentices well,” Johnson said.
Today, Holly Funeral Home serves five communities: Waupaca, Amherst, Wild Rose, Poy Sippi and Almond.
Johnson said they take pride in serving the families of their neighbors and friends.
“I serve others as I would want to be served,” Jungers said.