The Kirksville Rotary Club honored local business owners and the memory of two of its most influential members during its meeting Wednesday.

The Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home and owners Vern and Mary Playle were honored as the 2019 recipient of the Kirksville Rotary Club’s Ruby Green-Frank Baldwin Free Enterprise Award, given annually to a local company that best demonstrates commitment to business and community service.

“I’d like to thank the club for selecting our company to receive this award honoring Ruby and Frank,” Vern Playle said.

The family purchased the Davis Funeral Home in Kirksville in 1975 and moved to the city to make it their home. In 1977, they purchased the Dooley Funeral Home in Queen City, and in 1979 bought the assets of the Johnson Funeral Home in Kirksville.

In 1980, the name was changed to the Davis-Playle Funeral Home.

In 1992, they purchased the Fohn Funeral Home in Kirksville, and it remained in operation until 2000. In 1997 they opened a new funeral home in Unionville, that is now named Playle and Collins Funeral Home.

They purchased the Hudson-Rimer Funeral Homes in 2000 and operate the Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Park View Chapel in Kirksville, the Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home in Edina, and Coder Funeral Home in LaBelle. They have become a major stockholder in the Maple Hills Cemetery and Mausoleum and own the Park View Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Mausoleum.

“We owe the success of our business to the wonderful people in all of these communities who have supported us and our whole family,” the family said in a note included in the event program. “We also have had many employees over the years that have helped us grow and be successful. Last but not least was the help and support of my wife, Mary, and our three helpful and supportive children.”

Vern Playle introduced some of his family members during the ceremony, including his son, Kevin, and grandson, Zach.

“I’m the history, Kevin is the present and Zach is the future,” he said.

A longtime member of the Rotary Club himself, Playle recalled memories of Green and Baldwin, and said they both lived by Rotary’s Four-Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

“They were great people,” he said.

Green opened a produce company in Kirksville in 1931 and followed that with a grain elevator in 1938 and the Ruby Green Seed House in 1943. He was a member of the Kirksville Rotary Club for nearly 60 years and served as both club president and district governor. He also served on the board of directors for the Countryside Rehabilitation Center and Citizen’s National Bank, and was a Troop Master with the Boy Scouts of America and received scouting’s Silver Beaver Award in 1970. He received the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame award in 1985. Green died in 1993.


Baldwin moved to Kirksville in 1946 and opened the Baldwin Typewriter Company. He began the business in his home with one employee and it grew to a 30-person venture providing office supplies and equipment to schools and businesses across northern Missouri and southern Iowa. He was a member of the Rotary Club for more than four decades and served as club president and district governor. He helped establish the Kirksville Jaycee’s Chapter, was active in Boy Scouts of America and in Kirksville city government committees. Baldwin died in 1990.

Ray Klinginsmith, a Kirksville Rotary Club member and past Rotary International president, said the award pays homage to their memory.

“This gives us an opportunity to thank the original Rotarians who made Rotary what it is, because they were involved and very proud of free enterprise,” Klinginsmith said.