2022 already has been a big year for the Christensen family of Seymour.
On Jan. 1, Daniel and Betsy Christensen became owners of Stewart and Hoagland Funeral Home in Scottsburg and changed the name to Christensen-Hoagland Family Funeral Home.
Then in February, they changed the name of their funeral home in Seymour, Woodlawn Family Funeral Centre, to include their family name, Christensen Family Funeral Home.
At both places, including the word “family” was important because it truly is a family business. The Christensens’ sons, Chandler and Hayden, are among the 14 staff members.
“We are not a partnership with an out-of-town funeral home,” Daniel said. “When you walk in Christensen funeral home, you deal with a Christensen. It’s our family serving your family.”
One reason for changing the name of the Seymour funeral home is because the family has been here for more than two years, and the time was right to make it happen.
Daniel recently was named Jackson County’s deputy coroner, he is an ambassador for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and he’s on the ministry team at The Tabernacle in Seymour.
Plus, their two sons are registered for mortuary school in July.
“We’re here to do a generational blessing,” Daniel said. “It’s just who we are. We’re here. I’m buying plots. We’re not going anywhere. This is our ministry. This is what we do. I shop in our stores. I eat in our restaurants. I go to our churches. This is my town, and that’s really what I want to drive home.”
Daniel and Betsy became owners of Woodlawn on Dec. 1, 2019, and changed the slogan to “Our family serving your family.” Woodlawn was started in 2011 by Andy Rumph.
Daniel remodeled the building, including a chapel that seats 225 people and has new state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment, a new second chapel that seats 80, a fellowship hall, a kitchen, a living room area and a children’s playroom. There’s also new carpet and paint and a new awning.
Soon, the awning, signage, website and Facebook page will need the funeral home’s new name. The hearse, however, already had the name changed to Christensen on the back side windows, and a new logo recently was unveiled.
“It’s the same family service, new name,” Daniel said.
The full-service funeral home offers traditional funerals, cremation, pet cremation and headstones. It has a low-cost guarantee and is set up to handle any faith, tradition or culture, and preneeds at other funeral homes are fully transferable. Pastoral care recently was added, offering free grief counseling to families.
One project remaining is adding a banquet hall, which will serve as a gathering room for after-funeral dinners. Daniel plans to have that done this year.
In terms of branching out, Daniel said he and Betsy were approached by Bill and Barbara Hoagland about six months ago, saying they were ready to retire and would be honored for them to take over their funeral home in Scottsburg.
“We prayed about it, and we were just like, ‘OK, let’s see what happens,’” Daniel said.
On Jan. 1, the Christensens received the keys from the Hoaglands and announced via Facebook they are the new owners of Stewart and Hoagland Funeral Home.
“Founded in 1896, the funeral home has been an icon in Scottsburg for several generations, serving families with dignity and compassion, beginning with the Stewart family and later the Hoagland family,” they wrote. “Over the past two years, it has been a joy to get to know Bill and Barbara Hoagland on a personal level. We find ourselves extremely honored that they have chosen us to continue the legacy of excellence in Scottsburg and the surrounding area.”
Daniel also said in the post that he has been a licensed embalmer funeral director for more than 23 years, Betsy is a third-generation minister, songwriter and worship leader, serves alongside him in the family business and is a translator at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour for the Latino community and Chandler and Hayden both work alongside them.
“We look forward to getting involved in Scottsburg and building lifelong relationships and friendships,” Daniel wrote, noting they plan to hold an open house to give people a chance to stop by and say hello.
“We fully understand that we are one of a few funeral homes in the area, and our goal is to stand out with excellence,” he said. “Also, we desire for the funeral home to be known as a high-quality, low-cost alternative to our families. In this time that we live, economy matters. I encourage people to shop. I encourage people to compare prices. Funerals do not have to be expensive to be meaningful.”
He also noted the Scottsburg location honors all prearrangements from other funeral homes at face value.
“We will stake our name and reputation on our ability to love and serve people in their most difficult times,” Daniel wrote. “Thank you, Scottsburg. We look forward to getting to know you.”
Since purchasing the funeral home, Daniel said a new audio and video system was put in, and new carpet and paint are coming next.
They also have found many treasures in the building and included them in a heritage room to honor the six generations of ownership that served before them. That includes a coffin from when they were made at the funeral home and original embalmer’s licenses dating back to 1903.
“Dad always taught me ‘Pursue your future, but don’t forget what brought you there, don’t forget your past,’” Daniel said.
Being the seventh-generation ownership of such a historical funeral home is a huge honor for him and his family, he said.
“I made the previous ownership a commitment that I would always honor the past, that I would always serve people with my whole heart and would treat people equally no matter who they were, that this funeral home would be a ministry to Scott County and be there for families in their most difficult time,” he said. “We are enjoying getting ready to remodel the facility while keeping the charm and character of such a vintage location.”
It also was important for the Christensens to keep Hoagland in the name to honor the previous owners.
“Christensen funeral home in Seymour has seen continual growth since we’ve bought it as a result of continuing to love and serve people, building a name and reputation for who we are, and we are honored to take that same passion for people into Scottsburg,” Daniel said. “It has been pretty overwhelming, and we’ve gotten a fantastic welcome from the community. We have been very thankful for the continued growth of families that have trusted us in their most vulnerable times.”