History of McGilley & Frye Funeral Home & Cremation Service
The story of the McGilley & Frye Funeral Home is one of continuous, steady growth since the home’s inception in the late 19th century. It all began on April 30, 1897 when our founder, W. L. Frye, conducted his first funeral service.
William Lawrence Frye, a lifelong resident of Johnson County, was born December 10, 1878 in Edgerton, Kan. He began his many years of funeral service in 1893, when at the age of 14, he joined the staff of the M.S. DeTarr Mercantile and Undertaking Company. He established his own firm in Edgerton in 1897 and was among the first group of men to write the examination for the embalmer’s license when the state of Kansas started requiring such licensing in 1900.
In 1912, W. L. Frye moved with his wife, Mrs. Ivy V. Frye, and two sons, W.L. Frye, Jr. and Martin W. Frye, to Olathe, Kan., establishing his furniture and undertaking business at the location now occupied by the Olathe Post Office. In 1929, W.L. Frye and Sons established the first licensed funeral home in Johnson County, the Olathe Funeral Home, which was located at the present location. An open house was held the day of the opening, at which time the new home was visited by more than 2,000 people. A new air-conditioned chapel with seating capacity of 200, private family room, music room, office, and modern preparation facilities were added to the original structure in 1949.
Frye was also a chemist, manufacturing and selling Majestic Embalming Fluid. He covered a territory of eight states and had a large clientele. W.L. Frye passed away in 1963 in Olathe at the age of 84. At the time of his death, he was the oldest licensed embalmer in the state of Kansas.
Martin W. Frye, better known to most Olathe residents as "Hank", was born July 31, 1910 in Edgerton. He joined his father in the active management of the firm in 1931. With the exception of three years spent serving his country in the U.S. Army during World War II, Hank Frye provided Olathe and the surrounding communities with the same high standards of business practice established by his father.
Hank, a graduate of Olathe High School and the Williams Institute of Embalming of Kansas City, held licenses in both Kansas and Missouri. Active in community affairs, he served as both president of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce and the Olathe Optimist Club. Under his direction, the W.L. Frye & Son Funeral Home continued to build a reputation that inspired the confidence of all families it served. In 1978 the funeral home underwent extensive remodeling with the addition of a warmly decorated visitation chapel and a new brick front exterior. Hank passed away in 1996 at the age of 86.
In 2002, the McGilley family added W.L. Frye and Son Funeral Home to McGilley Memorial Chapels. This addition merged more than 200 years of experience, tradition and trust within McGilley & Frye Funeral Home.
We’re committed to our community and dedicated to exceeding the expectations of the families we serve. That’s why, for more than a century, families have turned to the solid traditions of McGilley & Frye Funeral Home & Cremation Service. We’re your neighbor and your friend, here to serve you and your family for many years to come.