364 Division Alfred B. Church House

This Victorian-era mansion home was built in 1887 for Alfred B. Church, a real estate subdivider. Alfred and his brother Samuel, were stepsons of Gail Borden, who became famous after establishing a local plant in Elgin for canning milk. An 1887 mansion that has been the home to many prominent Elgin families. Although much original detail remains, the home was seriously neglected for decades. It's last owners moved out in 1937. The house sat vacant until 1939, when Mr. O’Connor converted the first floor to a funeral home business and the upper two floors into apartments for his family and his brother’s. The home has been a funeral parlor since. In 1961, the east-facing porch was replaced by a brick addition that still functions as a chapel. Its more recent history includes ownership by the Homeier family operating as the O'Connor & Homeier Funeral Home from the early 1980's to 1990, with brief ownership as a corporate funeral home, and is now again in family ownership with Tom and Donna Leetz as proprietors of the O'Connor - Leetz Funeral Home. From 1999 until the current owners, Tom and Donna Leetz, moved into the house in 2003, the upper two floors sat vacant. The interior retains its splendid 12 foot ceilings with original wood doors, pocket doors, transoms, parquet floors, and three fire places on each floor. The original cistern remains in the basement, and well as original gas lantern piping, and select furniture. The hand-carved stairway banister, all baseboards and hand-carved wood detail remain in their original glory. This particular home was one of only three in Elgin that had a ballroom specifically built on the third floor. The current homeowners, Tom and Donna Leetz,  are patiently & lovingly restoring it to its former grandeur. The style is predominantly Romanesque with some Chateauesque features.


Preparing for your Funeral Service

Nothing is wrong with planning about your funeral. You have to face it. Every person will eventually pass on and that is why it is not weird if you start planning your funeral. When it comes to planning, you might already be thinking about where you will be buried.   Will you be buried near the place where you are living right now or should you be buried in your hometown? Aside from that, you might also be thinking what types of casket should be bought. But before you consider being buried, you might want to consider being cremated instead.

Cremation is becoming more and more popular every year. In 2011, about seventy percent of the total recorded deaths chose cremation for their funerals. In the following years, the amount of cremated bodies is expected to increase. The good thing about cremation is that your funeral expenses will be reduced. After all, you do not have to purchase a burial land and you do not have to purchase an expensive casket.

Once you have considered being cremated, you should start planning about your funeral. Here are some things that you should never forget:

Cremation process - Some cremation companies allow some relatives and close friends to watch the actual cremation process. If you think that watching your body being consumed by fire is too much for your relatives, you might want them to wait outside. After your ashes have been processed, it could be displayed in the funeral room so that guests will be able to pay their respects to you.

Eulogy - A lot of people will definitely want to say their eulogies. However, if you have a lot of friends and relatives, you might want to select a few of them to give their eulogies. If you let a lot of people give eulogies, the funeral process might take a very long time. Nevertheless, some people like all of their friends and relatives to say something good about them when they die. If you are one of those people, you might want to adjust your funeral schedule so that everyone will be able to say their respects.

Disposition of ashes - You have to plan where your ashes will be kept. Some people desire the ashes of their deceases loved ones to be kept in urns. The urns are placed in a particular place inside homes. However, you could also consider what most people want to do with their ashes. A lot of people wish that their ashes be scattered in the sea. Your ashes can also be scattered in lakes and rivers but make sure that the scattering of ashes is allowed in your location.

It is advisable to include your funeral wishes in your last will and testament.

Why Preplan Cremation?                

Important reasons to Preplan Cremation now:

Your family will know your wishes 

In the event that something was to happen, you can rest assured that your final wishes will be followed through with as you would like. You can rest peacefully knowing you will be remembered as you expected.

You and your family will have peace of mind 

Sadly many family members find themselves battling with decisions when trying to figure out your wishes.  Much unneeded turmoil can be caused by contradicting thoughts on what your true wishes are.                                              

Your family will not be left with a financial burden

The cost of a funeral can sometimes be a very large financial burden when an unexpected passing occurs.  Many families are left with outstanding debt from the death of a loved one.  This is a very important aspect when prearranging for cremation


Contemporary Funerals

A contemporary funeral, to some, can more truly reflect the character, life, ideals and beliefs of the person who has passed away. Because there are no set expectations or traditions associated with a contemporary funeral, planning this type of non-traditional funeral requires more thought and possibly more work to create a memorable event.

With a traditional funeral, the choices are easier because there's an established etiquette for the different stages of the ceremony. In the United States, a traditional funeral has specific elements, which usually include: a viewing or wake, a formal service, the use of a hearse to transfer the body to the cemetery, and burial or entombment of the remains. A contemporary funeral, in comparison, can combine some, all, or none of these elements. Basically the sky is the limit with a contemporary funeral but they must comport to the “community’s standard of decency.”    They can be whatever the family, or the deceased, if he had the forethought to preplan his funeral, wants within the rules and regulations of the local community.

It's becoming apparent that the traditional funeral is evolving. Many traditional funerals now incorporate the customs and ceremonies of different cultures. Cremation, not long ago, was viewed to be a contemporary option whereas today it is as main stream as a traditional funeral. With the lines between the two types of funerals blurring more and more, there are not two distinct types, but more of a metamorphosis of the two. For example: An individual may wish to be cremated following a viewing or wake. The family may hold a service with the ashes present and then scatter the cremains at the deceased's favorite fishing hole (also, be cautious, most municipalities have tight restrictions where cremains may be disposed.  Often the (act) is considered  littering, and sometimes it is prohibited as a nuisance per se). Because many mourners are opting to blur these lines, contemporary is becoming the new traditional funeral.

No matter what type of funeral a family chooses, the most important thing to remember is that the funeral is marking a significant event in time - the end of a life. Each family should have the choice on how they say their final farewells. However, if a contemporary is what a family decides upon, here are some ideas:

Cremation and Ash Scattering. After the ashes are scattered, the family can have a private dinner followed by the viewing of a DVD tribute video filled with special music and photographs of the family and their loved one throughout the years.

Wake with a Formal Service and Green Burial. Green burials are also an up and coming contemporary funeral option. Again, a traditional funeral can be modified to meet the family's wishes for a more eco-friendly burial utilizing a biodegradable urn or shroud for burial. During the service the funeral home can offer funeral webcasting for those family and friends that can't attend the service in person due to health issues, financial constraints or other personal reasons.

Direct Burial and Holiday Remembrance Memorial Service. For families that do not wish to have any formal service, yet still want to bury their loved one in the family plot, this is a good option. Getting through the first holiday without their loved one can be difficult. Many feel that holding a special memorial service during this time to remember their loved one is a comforting event. Each attendee can be given a remembrance ornament to cherish for years to come.

For more information about planning a funeral please contact Tom Leetz  (O’Connor - Leetz Funeral Home)  at  847-741-1400  or email: tleetz@oconnor-leetz.com