How is it that one of Muscatine’s oldest businesses, having had only four owners ever, still operates today after 155 years?
“In addition to our business, this is just another way to serve our community,” said Eric Snyder, co-owner of the George M. Wittich- Lewis Funeral Home.
Eric Snyder and Whitney Huddle Hollenbaugh bought the George M. Wittich-Lewis Funeral Home last March with the mission to continue the tradition of caring for families of loved ones recently passed.
“It’s about their life,” said Holllenbaugh, “family members share their lives and the life of their loved one with us and we try to help them during a difficult time. We find what’s unique about the person to make sure their service is built around them and the family’s needs.”
When asked why he does this work, Snyder says he’s always been service oriented. He served with the Lone Tree Fire and Rescue for 10 years, was involved with the Lone Tree Jaycees, was a founding member of the city’s Community Club, and other services clubs. When his children were young, he coached softball and flag football. More recently, Snyder helped establish the Iowa Wildlife United program of Washington, Louisa and Muscatine Counties which has given nearly $10,000 in scholarships to area youth. Snyder says he is most proud of the fact both of his grown children are also now in service; his son is a Jones County sheriff’s deputy and his daughter works Systems Unlimited an Iowa City organization serving people with disabilities and mental health needs.
Hollenbaugh, who grew up in Wapello, says she and her family have planted their roots here in Muscatine. Whitney and her husband Tony have two boys, 11 and 7-years old, that keep them busy with their many activities. Mr. Hollenbaugh serves as special education teacher in the Muscatine Schools.
“One unique thing about us is how we give back to the community with our facilities,” said Snyder.
In the late 1990s the company added a community room to their current facility built in 1978. The firm makes the community room available to families at no additional charge for gatherings and luncheons after funeral services. Snyder and Hollenbaugh explain how their dedicated team coordinate catering, help to serve and clean up following a family’s event.
“Not many funeral homes do this,” said Snyder. “It’s important to look at the small things in life.”
Hollenbaugh says it’s important for them to learn about the person and make that a part of their service.
“It’s about their life and I’m proud that we include parts of their life in their service,” she says.
Tractors, motorcycles, special food dishes, pets and semi-trucks have all been part of a service at the George M. Wittich-Lewis Funeral Home.
Although Mr. Witich himself may not have had a John Deere tractor at a funeral in 1864, the 155-year-old tradition of service continues today under the company’s new ownership.