Hannibal Courier-Post

Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel celebrates 100 years of service in Palmyra, Northeast Missouri

This undated photo provided to the Courier-Post shows the Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel in Palmyra. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Palmyra institution.
Special to the Courier-Post
Posted: Aug. 3, 2017 3:33 pm

The Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel has provided special remembrances for loved ones, friends and neighbors — the founders purchased the first motorized hearse in Marion County in 1918, for use in the service honoring the first soldier from Palmyra to fall during World War I.

The service for Wade Boots served as one example of how staff members have always worked to serve the community with compassion and provide services that are specifically tailored for remembering the moments and traits that make each person’s life unique. This August marks 100 years that The Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel of Palmyra has been serving the area.

Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel has a history rooted in the Palmyra community. In August 1917, J. Best and George B. Lewis purchased the Joseph Quest Undertaking Company. At the time, the business was located on the corner of Church and Main Streets, south of the Post Office.

For several years, the operation included a furniture business, in addition to the mortuary — a common practice during the time period. In 1929, the partnership moved across the street to the Savoy Building, which was razed in the late 1970s to make way for the new Palmyra State Bank.

The sons of the founders, John B. "Jack" Lewis and George M. Lewis, constructed the current building in 1964, located at the corner of Hamilton and Main Street.

Before the Marion County Ambulance District was formed in 1974, the Lewis Brothers also served the community by providing ambulance service in Palmyra and Philadelphia. In the mid-1980s, the third generation of Lewis Brothers funeral directors joined the firm: David M. Lewis and Steven W. Lewis. The Lewis brothers have served Palmyra for decades as they have assisted countless families in their time of need.

In September 2015, James J. O’Donnell joined the Lewis Brothers family of funeral directors when he purchased the business.

"Having the opportunity to serve a wonderful community like Palmyra and the surrounding area with gifted directors like David and Steve Lewis in truly a privilege," O’Donnell said. "Our fathers and grandfathers worked together serving families many times over the years. To continue that tradition is an honor."

Through the decades, Lewis Brothers always strove to provide the community with the finest service. They provided an ambulance service, assisting area residents with emergency services before an ambulance district existed. Today, they provide Life Celebration Experiences that honor each person and allow families to truly celebrate and remember their loved one.

Through creative tributes and one of-a-kind keepsakes, the Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel provides the families they serve with unique remembrances. These moments bring family and friends closer to the journey of healing from a loss — which has made a lasting impact on Steve Lewis.

"It has truly been an honor, more so a privilege, for Lewis Brothers to serve their community for 100 years. Families have placed their trust in our family for many generations and for that, we feel eternally grateful," Steve Lewis said.

Throughout the years, Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel has evolved along with the community they serve — strengthening ties along the way in the Flower City.

"As with other businesses, the funeral industry continues to change and evolve. A funeral service five years ago is not the same as it is today," Lewis said. "Now we want to walk down the path of a person’s life and celebrate everything that makes Mom, Dad or that loved one special." Lewis noted some of the ways he and fellow staff members make that celebration unique for each person.

"That may mean having grandma’s oatmeal cookie recipe on a card for a keepsake, or transforming our parlors into a bowling alley because that’s where Dad always liked to hang out," he said. "We aspire to make our services to be personal and relevant; no two lives should be celebrated identically."

For a century, The Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel has been a fixture in the community, adhering to the principles that began a century ago.

"Tradition is a very important part of what we do, and we will always honor that. We want to provide the community with a way to heal that truly honors their loved one."

The Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel will host a Business After Hours event in conjunction with the Palmyra Chamber of Commerce from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 424 South Main Street. The public is invited to stop by, enjoy refreshments and tour some of the firm’s recent renovations during the celebration.