Category Archives: Funeral business

Robert Bethea opens Robert J. Bethea Jr. Funerals & Cremations

WICHITA — After five years in partnership at Biglow-Bethea Funeral Directors, Robert Bethea now has his own business.

Robert J. Bethea Jr. Funerals & Cremations has opened at 615 W. Maple across from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

For a number of reasons, Bethea says he felt like he needed to make a change. It happened remarkably fast – it took three weeks – once he found a building.

“God blessed me with a new location,” Bethea says of finding the 7,260-square-foot space.

Bethea says he’ll offer cremations and funerals, including dove releases and horse-drawn carriages for funerals.

For now, his fleet is one hearse, which he’ll augment with limousine rentals. Eventually, Bethea says he plans to have an in-house limo service. He’ll also have an in-house crematorium.

“We couldn’t get everything in time,” he says.

Bethea also will offer notary services.

Before working at Biglow-Bethea, Bethea says he worked with a number of other funeral homes.

“I’ve been in the funeral business since I was 15,” he says.

His stepfather paid his way through dental school by working in a mortuary.

Bethea says his stepfather told him he could be either a dentist or a mortician. At 15, Beathea embalmed his first body, which he enjoyed. He says his decision was easy after that.

Within an hour of getting licensed last week, Bethea says he had his first call for a funeral.

“I was just like, praise God.”

Jackson Mortuary owes almost $77,000 in taxes; owner disputes amount

UPDATED — The state says Wichita’s Jackson Mortuary owes almost $77,000 in back taxes, which owner Mike Jackson disputes.

There’s one thing he doesn’t dispute, though. His tax trouble is “just a sign of the times.”

“Our bad debt is (more than) what we owe the state,” Jackson says.

He says customers are slow to pay or don’t pay at all.

“And insurance is slow to pay also,” Jackson says.

“We have performed services and haven’t collected our money. . . . We have a disease to please around our place.”

He says the problem is leading to a policy change at his business as well as at other funeral homes. Customers will now have to pay for services before receiving them.

“That’s what most of them are doing now,” Jackson says of competitors.

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Eldridge Woods Funeral Service to sell, change names to Central Avenue Funeral Services

WICHITA — Todd Coley has worked at Eldridge Woods Funeral Service for more than a decade and is now in the process of buying it.

He’s also changing the name to Central Avenue Funeral Services since it’s located at 2703 E. Central.

Coley says the funeral home has been in business since the 1940s when it opened under another name.

“It changed hands over time,” he says.

In recent years, Coley says, “It’s just declined.”

The business averages 45 to 50 funerals a year.

Coley wants to handle an average of 75 to 100 funerals annually.

The name change is going to take about 30 days, and Coley intends to embark on a marketing and advertising campaign to get the word out.

“Anytime that I get a call,” he says, “I’m ready to give some service.”