Our Staff's Commitment to You.
If you have lived in Franklin County for any length of time, chances are you will know or at least recognize our employees, because they all live here. They are all longtime or lifetime residents.
We think that it is important for families we serve to see familiar faces at a time when they need comfort and understanding. It just seems to make a difficult situation a little easier.
Our employees deserve to be in the spotlight because much of our success is due to their dedication and caring, and we want to give credit where credit is due. I appreciate the staff's dedication and loyalty and I owe them a debt of gratitude. Without them, we would not be able to enjoy the success we have today.
However, their dedication and loyalty are not limited to the funeral home, these traits are also extended to our city and surrounding communities. All members of our staff are either native Franklin Counties or longtime residents. They have a vested interest in the future of this county, because their children and grandchildren are here; their roots are here.
They are not only good employees; they are good neighbors and friends, who are proud to live here and who take an active part in making it a good place to live.
We see a bright future for this community and the surrounding area. Our county is growing, and we are all very excited to be a part of it.
Craig & Cindy Dengel
Owner & Funeral Director
Craig Louis Dengel, the president of Dengel & Son Mortuary, is the third generation to own and manage Dengel & Son Mortuary. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Walter, and his grandfather, Louis. As a youngster of twelve, he began his career in the funeral business at the bottom of the ladder, washing cars and mowing the lawn for his grandfather at the funeral home. He continued helping at the funeral home all through high school and during the summers while in college.
Craig graduated from Ottawa High School in 1978, from Kansas City Community College with an Associate Arts Degree in Mortuary Science in 1980, and from Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1983. After college, he returned to Ottawa and joined his father in business.
In 1988, he married Cynthia Lee. Although Cindy was born in Japan and in 1978 graduated high school in San Diego and later graduated from Baker University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management, she has family roots here in Ottawa and Franklin County. Her father, Joe and Craig’s father, Walt graduated from Ottawa High School together in the same class of 1954.
Craig and Cindy have 3 children: Jennifer lives in Lenexa and is a registered nurse; Christina lives in Lawrence and is a kindergarten teacher and Chase lives in Kansas City and works in business management. So far Craig and Cindy have 4 grandchildren.
Craig is proud to be a third generation funeral director serving Ottawa, proud to be the owner of Ottawa’s only independent, family owned funeral home. Growing up in Ottawa, being a part of this community, having lifelong friendships and acquaintances, influence his every business decision. This is more than just business to Craig; this is a personal commitment to friends and neighbors.
Walter & Clarice Dengel
Funeral Director & Former Owners
Walt Dengel, son of the founder of Dengel & Son Mortuary, Louis Dengel, grew up in Ottawa and graduated from Ottawa High School in 1954. He grew up living in an apartment on the second story of the funeral home with his parents, Louie and Vada Dengel and his sister, Naomi. He has many fond memories growing up in Ottawa and often recalls events that happened years ago with his coffee buddies. Living on top of a funeral home had its own special memories.
After high school he went to Emporia State Teacher’s College where he met his future wife, Clarice Steffes. After college and a stint in the Army, Clarice and Walt were married in her hometown of Olpe, Kansas in 1958. In short order they had three children, Craig, Carol and Mark.
In 1961, Walt brought Clarice and family to his hometown, Ottawa, and went to work for his Dad, Louie, at the funeral home. Walt and Louie worked together until Louie died in 1973 and Walt took over the reins of the funeral home. The kids were getting older and Clarice began helping at the funeral home.
Walt welcomed oldest son, Craig into the business in 1983. It was a good partnership. In 1998, Walter and Clarice retired from the funeral business and sold the funeral home to son Craig. They bought a second home in Florida and spent eight months every year there for fourteen years.
Walt and Clarice moved back to Ottawa permanently in 2013. They said it was time to come home. Walt is so happy to be able to help at the funeral home. He is renewing old friendships and visiting with people he hasn’t seen in years. He is in his element. Clarice is equally happy to be back home, enjoying old friends and being close to family.
Funeral Director, Embalmer & Cremation Specialist
Jon, an Ottawa native, has been associated with Dengel & Son Mortuary since 1985. He started working part-time while he was still in high school. He is a licensed embalmer, funeral director and crematory specialist, but he is much more than that implies, he is part of management. We value his opinions, and he has taken charge of several facets of the funeral home. Jon is a key employee, and is always looking for ways to serve our families better.
Jon is always interested in continuing his education and learning new techniques in the preparation room. He has specialized training for difficult situations. "That's good enough" is not in his vocabulary. Jon isn't finished with a task until it is as good as it can possibly be.
Jon lost his mother, sister and grandmother, all in the space of a year, so he has a special empathy for families experiencing a loss. He's been there.
Jon is married to the former Theresa Maes. She is a reading specialist at the Ottawa Middle School. They have three sons: Hayden, Bryce, and Drew. They are members of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Certified Pre-need Counselor
Carolyn, an Ottawa native, is a certified Pre-need Counselor. She has been a member of Dengel & Son Mortuary’s staff since 1990.
As our pre-need counselor, Carolyn helps people plan funeral services before the need arises. Some are pre-funded, some are not. She is a professional with high moral standards who is focused on a family’s needs. Most pre-need counselors work on a commission. As a salaried professional, Carolyn will never pressure anyone into pre-funding a funeral or influence their choices. Carolyn sets high standards for herself, professionally, personally and morally.
In addition, Carolyn provides after-care for our families by sharing information on all aspects of grief and sharing appropriate books from our grief library.
She does an excellent job presenting programs on funeral service to various groups. She communicates very well and is very knowledgeable on all facets of funeral service. There seems to be a great deal of interest in the subject and the meetings are very lively and informative.
Carolyn is very active in her church. Among other things, she directs a ministry team, Hands of Glory, which shares contemporary Christian music in sign language. The popular group travels, sharing their talent. She also delivers Meals on Wheels each week and is a long time volunteer for Midland Hospice.
Carolyn has three married daughters and eight grandchildren. Through the years while working in our funeral home Carolyn has dealt with the death of close friends and of several members of her immediate family including her husband Bud, who died in 2003. She is a compassionate person who can relate to the families we serve.
Joyce, a longtime Ottawa resident, has been working for Dengel & Son Mortuary since 2003. She began working part-time in the office during evening visitations. It wasn’t long before she became a full-time employee and became indispensable to us.
As office administrator she keeps things running smoothly and our Funeral Directors have come to depend upon her kind manner and her efficiency. One of her responsibilities is to write the obituaries for the newspapers and the funeral folder. The Funeral Directors write down the information and Joyce makes sense of it. She has a talent for helping families put onto paper what they want to convey in the obituary and she does it with ease. Joyce is an important member of our team and greatly contributes to our success.
Joyce and her husband Jon, have four children and five grandchildren. During their free time they enjoy hosting family gatherings and spending time together outdoors. Joyce also loves to read, sew, bake and garden. She is thoughtful, kind and considerate, all of which are wonderful qualities that help when working with grieving families.
Tony, a Franklin County native who grew up in rural Rantoul, is in charge of cemetery set-ups. When we have a burial Tony sets up the tent, chairs and the equipment used to lower the casket and vault into the grave. Depending upon the cemetery, he is sometimes the grave digger. He is good at what he does and we always know everything will be ready and in place when the funeral procession arrives at the cemetery.
He also keeps busy setting monuments. He does an excellent job setting stones. He takes extra precautions to make sure monuments remains straight and stable through the years.
Keeping the yard and grounds looking good at the funeral home and keeping the equipment in good repair takes a good deal of his time. We are lucky to have a man of many talents working for us. He always has a big smile and a friendly word for everyone.
Tony graduated from Central Heights High School in 1988 and still lives on a farm near Rantoul. When he has time he hunts deer and turkey with a bow and arrow. But most of the time, when he is not working, he is spending time with wife Michelle and his two girls, Emma Rose and Piper Jo. This year he is coaching Emma’s softball team, Ottawa Thunder. Piper is not old enough to play yet but we are sure Tony has plans for her too.
Bob, a longtime resident of Ottawa, has been working for us for many years following his retirement in 1996. You will see him at most of our evening visitations greeting visitors and making everyone feel comfortable. He is very good at that because he seems to know just about everyone, especially the citizens from the southern part of the county. And there is a reason for that, he was a teacher there.
His first teaching job in Franklin County was at Lane, he traveled a gravel road to get there. When the schools consolidated, he moved to Richmond and taught high school and his final move was to teach in the brand new high school at Central Heights in 1969. Bob taught English, Theater and Speech. He was a natural for that because he has a wonderful speaking voice, that in the past, he has put to good use in Community Theater productions.
He and his wife Mary have four children and eight grandchildren that keep them busy. He is also very involved in his church and continues to be a substitute teacher at Central Heights. We are glad he leaves some time for us; we have come to rely upon his “people skills”.
Lynn, a native of Franklin County, began working for us in 2011. He and Bob Redeker help at family visitations and occasionally help at funerals. It is rather ironic that he and Bob work together. Lynn, who grew up in Richmond, was in the first graduation class from the newly built Central Heights High School and Bob Redeker was one of his teachers. That was in 1969. Lynn doesn’t call him Mister Redeker anymore.
Lynn went to Neosho County Community College in Chanute and had several different jobs before he joined the work force at Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant in Burlington in the Health Physics Department (in layman’s terms that is Radiation Protection). We were lucky to find Lynn to help with family visitations. He is easy going and friendly, just the kind of guy to make visitors and family feel at ease in the funeral home. Next time you attend a visitation at our funeral home, you will recognize Lynn by his smiling face.
In his spare time, Lynn likes to work in the yard and take trips with his wife Jean. It is not unusual for them to take day trips sandwiched in between trips to visit family and long vacations.