A celebration of life: Dubuque funeral home offering innovative alternative to traditional funeral services

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 11:11 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - A funeral home in Dubuque is offering a new path for families to say goodbye to loved ones.

The staff at Egelhof, Siegert & Casper Funeral Home said that, for years, they have heard from many families wanting funerals to be more of a celebration of life, and not so somber.

”George was the kind of guy who would not have wanted us to sit and mourn him officially and formally,” Fernanda Kramer, George’s widow, said.

With that in mind, Kramer visited Egelhof, Siegert & Casper Funeral Home and Crematory in Dubuque to arrange her husband’s funeral services. The funeral home had taken care of Kramer’s mother’s funeral more than 10 years ago. When she met with the owner, Tom Seigert, he offered her an interesting approach to a wake service.

”He said they are trying this new setup in which the tables and everything are less formal and it is like a pub atmosphere,” Kramer said. “And it tempted me a lot.”

What Siegert had offered her was the Farewell Toast, a wake-style service where staff serves wine and beer and order in catering. They also set up tables across the room.

“An atmosphere to have people more relaxed, kind of hanging out for a little longer so they can share stories and they can tell memories,” Siegert said. “More of the family hearing stories as opposed to the family telling the stories.”

Siegert said they are the first funeral home in the Dubuque area to try this. However, it is part of an upcoming trend all across the country. The funeral home had tried to put it together for a long time and the pandemic paused the planning last year.

“We have asked around, we bounced it off people’s heads and said, ‘What do you think? We are talking about this idea, you know, maybe doing something a little bit different,’” Siegert said. “And all of the feedback was, ‘Wow, that is a great idea.’”

To accomplish it, they acquired two licenses.

”One is the liquor license and that is very important because that allows us legally to serve the alcohol, my staff and I, so that way we can control the environment, so it is not to be a big party, but it is more to be more of a celebration type thing,” Siegert said.

The other license was for catering.

Siegert recognizes this is not for everyone, but Kramer said it was what her family needed.

”It was the best way to celebrate George’s life,” Kramer said. “I am sure he is pleased with what we did.”

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