In 1926, a young dairy farmer from the Town of Rockland, by the name of Robert A. “Rob” Ryan, decided that the De Pere community needed another funeral parlor. At the time, southern Brown County was served by 2 funeral establishments -- Kuehl's and Schumerth's. Both undertaking parlors were located on Broadway Street in De Pere and were operated in conjunction with furniture stores. Back in those days, all of the visitations, or calling hours, were held in the home of the deceased or a family member. Most were two night wakes with the funerals held in church on the third day.
Mr. Ryan opened his new funeral home in a storefront located on Main Avenue, downtown De Pere. In August of 1926, he conducted his first funeral for the family of Ellen Lee.
The professional services continued at a pace that soon necessitated a new, larger facility. In 1937, Mr. Ryan and his family built a new, modern facility on the corner of Second and Reid Streets. At the time, it was one of the few funeral establishments to operate out of a building built solely for funeral home activities.
In those days Mr. Ryan was assisted by two close family friends, Leo Burke and Jim Dillon. The Ryan Family reputation for "Thoughtful Service Sincerely Rendered" soon spread and the funeral home was serving families from Askeaton to Oneida. Unfortunately, in June of 1941, Mr. Ryan died while working at the funeral home. Jim Dillon continued to operate the funeral home for the Ryan family during these years. Robert B. Ryan, Mr. Ryan's only son, was enrolled in the ROTC Program at St. Norbert College at the time. Bob served in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1948 when he was honorably discharged as a Disabled American Vet. He completed his Mortuary Education in Milwaukee and joined the family firm in 1950.
In 1955, Lloyd Meyer, an Oshkosh native with family heritage in the funeral profession, joined the firm as a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Mr. Meyer, another U.S. Army Veteran, quickly became an integral part of Ryan Funeral Home's operation.
St Norbert College continued to expand at a rapid rate. In 1963, the Ryan family decided to sell the Reid Street property to the Norbertine Order for campus needs. At that time, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Meyer purchased land on the yet to be developed Tenth Street on De Pere's West Side for future expansion. In 1964, they moved into the new Ryan Funeral Home building, a state of the art funeral establishment located at 305 North Tenth Street. In those years, Mel Mason and Casey Kolb assisted the funeral directors in their endeavors.
In 1978, Door County native Joe Schinkten began service to Ryan Funeral Home as funeral director and embalmer. With a strong corporate commitment to community service and volunteerism, the Ryan team of professionals continued to establish themselves as the premier funeral home in Brown County. Bob Ryan retired in 1983 and the ensuing stock transactions led to ownership by Mr. Meyer and Mr. Schinkten. Bob Ryan continued helping at the funeral home until the time of his passing on May 5, 1995.
Immediately after the close of our 75th anniversary year in 2001, Mr. Schinkten began an extensive re-building project on the facility on Tenth Street. The new construction included expanded handicapped restrooms, family lounge area, additional office space, a much needed pre-need area, all new computer systems, and additional parking. At the same time, the decision was made to invest in a new cremation retort so that in-house, full service cremation packages can be offered. The funeral home belongs to the Cremation Association of North America, and adheres to the strictest levels of professionalism in the crematory operation. In November of 2002, the funeral home celebrated a grand re-opening. The re-decorated, re-furnished, and re-built funeral home is positioned to serve the needs of Northeastern Wisconsin families for years to come.
While in his 50th year of service to Ryan Funeral Home and the families of Northeastern Wisconsin, Mr. Meyer passed away on May 5, 2005. Upon his passing, all stock in the funeral home was transferred to Mr. Schinkten and he is the sole owner and manager of Ryan Funeral Home to this day.
Although the complexion of funeral service has changed over the decades to mirror the desires of society, the personalized, price sensitive approach to family oriented funeral service still holds as strong at Ryan's as it did when the doors opened in 1926.
Today, the funeral home is operated by Joe Schinkten, Scott Baeten, James Wolfe, and Michael Lindsley with non-licensed assistance from Casey Kolb, Jerry Henrigillis, Roxanne Olson, Bridget Vandelist, Edward Krause, and Jacob Yorton.
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