When Hanford, California became a city in 1891, the "People’s Undertaking Association" handled most of the mortuary business in Hanford and the surrounding area.
Around this time, Mr. Cecil G. Demme was working with his father in a furniture store and undertaking parlor in his hometown of Emerson, Nebraska. He received a letter from a friend in Hanford, California. The friend told him in the letter that "Hanford was in need of a funeral parlor.”
Mr. Demme came to Hanford with his wife in early 1924. He became acquainted with "People's Undertaking Association" that was made up of local undertakers in the late 1800's and early 1900's in Hanford. Mr. Demme, along with parishioner's from the Hanford Presbyterian Church, formed a People's Undertaking Parlor" Corporation on November 14, 1924 at 501 N. Douty Street, Hanford, California, for the purpose of selling stock in the corporation to build a undertaking parlor.
In January 1925, Mr. Demme with the help of his father, obtained a bank loan and bought six lots, which were 60 feet in depth and 150 feet total frontage in the Dobbins addition Block "B" in the City of Hanford. During the ownership of People’s Undertaking Parlor by the corporation, Mr. Demme was the Secretary and Mr. J.E. Hall, President.
The corporation had plans drawn up and had bids from several local contractors for a funeral parlor, apartment and garage on Mr. Demme's land on North Douty and 8th Streets in Hanford. The bid was awarded to W.H. Sippel, Contractor and Builder in Lemoore, California on January 24, 1925 and the building was completed on June 8, 1925.
Mr. Demme was very instrumental in bringing together the San Joaquin valley funeral directors so they could better serve the valleys' citizens. On April 23, 1928, he and other directors met at his invitation at the Fresno Hotel in Fresno, California. They formed the "San Joaquin Valley Funeral Directors Association." The following officers were elected: Ben C. Wallace, Stodkton (President); Carl F. Loyd, Porterville (Vice President); C.G. Demmy, Hanford (Secretary) and Josh M. Hadley, Visalia (Treasurer). The association is still in operation, however, the name is now "Central Valley Funeral Directors Association.”
From this time on People's Undertaking Parlor operated as a funeral parlor, undertaking parlor and in 1929, had an ambulance operation with Mr. Demme as manager. When World War II began, Lemoore Army Air Base was commissioned and in early 1942, Mr. Demme negotiated a contract with U.S. Army Air Corp, Lemoore Army Air Base for complete undertaking services by People's Undertaking Parlor.
On February 9, 1948, People's Undertaking Parlor Corporation was dissolved and all fixed assets were turned over to Mr. Demme. On January 2, 1948, Mr. Cecil G. Demme and his wife, Georgia P. Demme, became owners of People's Undertaking Parlor. Mr. Demme passed away on June 17, 1949 and his wife was awarded ownership of People's Undertaking Parlor on March 24, 1950. Mrs. Demme continued operating People's Undertaking Parlor until April 1, 1950, when it was purchased by Mr. Andrew J. Kells and his wife, LeVonne Kells.
After the purchase, the Kells built a four unit garage on the north end of the building for the coach, two limos and a van in 1955. They also started an extensive remoldeling of the building on September 14, 1959. A local architect, Alexander & Dorman, contracted for the remodeling plans and the B&M Contractors from Fresno, California were awarded the bid. On December 7, 1959, the Kells changed the name from People's Undertaking Parlor to People's Funeral Chapel.
The Kells remodeling consisted of the addition of a family room, a new front entry door and foyer with two large decorative doors, restrooms, air conditioning, forced air heating unit, an office and casket storage in the original garage area. The decorative cement block walls on the south and west side of the building were also added to give the building a modernistic appearance.
The Kells operated People's Funeral Chapel with a long time employee, Mr. Miles Fuller, licensed embalmer and funeral director. He started with the Kells as an apprentice on April 25, 1955. The Kells retired on August 17, 1976 and sold People's Funeral Chapel to Mr. Jack Creighton, owner and operator of Creighton Memorial Chapel in Kingsburg, California. Mr. Creighton ran the chapel from August 18, 1976 to 1980, when he sold it to the Miller Brothers, David L. and Paul and their partner, Mr. Donald Evans, owner and operator of Evans Funeral Chapel in Exeter, California.
The Miller Brothers were the second generation to own and operate Miller Memorial Chapel, 1120 W. Goshen Avenue in Visalia, California. They worked with and inherited the chapel from their parents.
As time went on, David and Paul Miller bought out Mr. Evans from both People's Funeral Chapel and Evans Funeral Chapel. They changed the name to Evans-Miller Funeral Chapel. The Miller Brothers also over time acquired Miller Memorial Chapel, Woodlake and Goble Funeral Chapel in Tulare and changed the name to Goble-Miller Funeral Chapel. In the fall of 1981, they acquired Bledsoe Funeral Chapel of Corcoran, Califoria. They changed the name of this funeral chapel to People's Funeral Chapel-Corcoran.
Both People's Funeral Chapel in Hanford and Corcoran were managed by the Miller Brothers and several other qualified employees. On July 1, 1984, they hired Mr. Walter R. Morehoue to manage both locations. On February 28, 1996, an affiliate of Service Corporation International acquired the People's Funeral Chapels, along with the other chapels owned by the Miller Brothers. Mr. Morehouse continued as manager until his retirement on October 1, 2004.
Today, we are proud to be members of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers.