National Small Business Week
Behner Funeral Home in Fairfield, Iowa
As a young man Arnie Weirup had his sights set on working on the family farm, but that was when the farm crisis of the 80s was going on. Being the youngest of 5 kids, the family farm wasn’t big enough to support them all. Arnie thought it would be fun to travel to different places as a travel agent. The travel industry has many facets and Arnie ended up working mostly in hotels for a few years. In one of those hotels he was robbed one night. After being robbed he remembered a conversation he’d had with the funeral director in his home town of Maquoketa a month earlier. The Director suggested that Arnie might consider becoming a Funeral Director. Arnie enrolled in Scott County Community College where he received his pre-requisites, he then enrolled in the Dallas Institute of Funeral Services in Texas. After school he went back to Maquoketa and completed his internship with a funeral home in Cedar Rapids. Fred Behner was running the business in Fairfield by that time and hired Arnie in the Fall of 1989. While some re-modeling was being done at Behners, Arnie met Larry Keller, who then introduced Arnie to his sister-in-law Denise Mullikin. They had not dated long when they decided to get married. They were married in 1992 and are parents to Kyle, Krystal and Kayla. They have been married 27 years.
When Fred’s health started to decline, Arnie was faced with a decision; do I purchase the business or work for the next owner? After working for Fred for 23 years and being a part of the community, he decided to purchase the funeral home from Fred and Nancy in November 2012. Instead of changing the name to Weirup Funeral Home, he decided to honor Fred and his dad, Weston, and keep the name Behner Funeral Home. Weston started serving the community in 1930. Arnie and Denise’s goal for Behner Funeral Home is to continue to serve families at one of the most difficult times of their lives while keeping the family owned atmosphere. He also wants to make sure that everybody has healthy grieving.
Denise and Arnie are so thankful for their compassionate and dedicated staff which includes - Patricia Redinger, part-time Funeral Director and funeral assistants, Joan and Jim Salts, Dave Goehring, Dennis Smithburg and Ray “Doc” Woody.
When Fred saw that cremation was soon going to be the main form of service in the funeral industry, in 2003 he added an on-site crematorium to provide an additional service to Fairfield and the surrounding communities. Cremation services are more than half of their services. In addition to the crematorium, casket and urn selection rooms were also added as well as additional handicap restrooms. After Arnold and Denise purchased the funeral home they put handicap ramps on both sides of the front door making it easier to get into the funeral home.
Services at Behner’s include: Pre-arrangements for burial or cremation, burial or cremation services, online memorials, funeral fund donations, ordering flowers, sharing service details, daily grief support email and additional aftercare program. The Weirups and their staff are strong community members as demonstrated by their affiliation with nine different service organizations and six different churches. As you look at the names of their staff you’ll see several former Citizens of the Year of Fairfield.
Like many trades, you always face different challenges. One challenge since purchasing the funeral home, is finding a full time Licensed Funeral Director. They are so thankful that Patti is interested in doing it part time. Arnie says his kids are not interested in becoming a funeral director and this profession is not for everyone. It is a service that you have to feel compassionate and comfortable doing. Another challenge is the pandemic we are all going through; since the funeral profession is all about handshakes and hugs. The biggest change is doing social distancing visitations of friends and families not present. Funeral or memorial services are private and limited to 10 people, including minister and funeral home staff. This is hard especially when small communities are all about showing compassion and support for those families who have just lost a loved one.
Behner Funeral Home and staff feel blessed to serve and have the Fairfield and surrounding communities trust them.
In the meantime, we’re glad that such nice people are here for us when we need them.
Pictured in the back row from left to right: Ray (Doc) Woody, Dave Goehring, Jim Salts, Dennis Smithburg, Arnold (Arnie) Weirup (co-owner)
Pictured in the front row from left to right: Patricia Redinger, Joan Salts, Denise Weirup (co-owner)
The U.S. Small Business Administration has postponed National Small Business Week; new dates will be announced soon. The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce would still like to highlight five Fairfield Area businesses this week in celebration of Small Business Week.