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Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, one of Kent's oldest businesses, received special recognition from the city Wednesday for beginning its 100th year of operation this month.
"The business continues to thrive, serving generations of families in the city of Kent and Portage County area," Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said, reading a proclamation declaring Wednesday as "Bissler's Day" in the city. "The city of Kent wishes to thank the Bissler family for their dedication to our city in the last century."
The business, which has remained in family control for four generations, was founded in 1913 by Samuel Bissler and his 18-year-old son, Ira, at 114 E. Main St. In 1925, the funeral home moved across the Main Street Bridge to the corner of West Main Street and Gougler Avenue until 1942, when it again relocated to its current location at 628 W. Main St.
President Rick Bissler said that the family business has continually updated itself to stay current and meet growing demand for cremations, but has stayed true to its roots in its overall philosophy and practices.
"When words are inadequate we have ritual. Every family has their ritual, and that's what we focus on," Bissler said.
Bissler said he doesn't like to try and sell fancy add-ons for funeral services or expensive urns.
"If that extra $80 of income is what keeps my doors open, it's time to quit," he said. "In fact, with urns, we send most people to Hobby Lobby."
When an employee of Wright Heating and Cooling passed away, Bissler said he went to the company and pitched the idea of its employees manufacturing a sheet metal urn, to which every employee lent a hand.
"They went above and beyond. Everybody got to bend, cut, drill, rivet, and they made the most beautiful stainless steel toolbox," he said.
Bissler said previous generations set up the business so that it could transition between family members without question of ownership.
In 1972, as a senior in high school, his great uncle and then company president, Bob Bissler, called on him and asked if taking over the business was what he wished to do.
"It's just part of the heritage. That's who I am," Bissler said. "It really is an honor."
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