In 1885, L.O. Stephens started the first funeral home in the Central Valley, and the 11th
funeral establishment in California. Mr. Stephens expanded his furniture and funeral business to include his brother-in-law Billy Bean in 1895, thus forming Stephens & Bean Funeral Chapel.
Mr. Bean was the Fresno county coroner and Mr. Stephens was the first mayor of Fresno. In 1911, Mr. Stephens built the first state-of-the-art funeral chapel and mortuary in Fresno at the corner of Tuolumne and Broadway. This chapel had many new features, including a pipe organ and the first motorized funeral coach on the West Coast.
In the early twenties, J.D. Stephens joined his father, and as their business grew, they purchased additional equipment including a new ambulance with features such as a lung motor to assist in cases of gas poisoning, electric shock, drowning and asphyxiation. In the 1930s, Stephens and Bean put a new air ambulance (the first of its kind) into service. In 1945, J.D. Stephens Jr. returned from WWII. Instead of pursuing his planned career as a mining engineer, he joined his father’s firm along with another funeral director and WWII veteran named Manford Morton.
J.D. Stephens Jr. and Manford “Mort” Morton worked closely and in 1950, they relocated their funeral home to 202 N. Teilman, constructing a modern facility in a prime location near the local cemeteries, thus eliminating funeral processions through town. By the mid-1950s, the younger Stephens was on the city council and was considering running for mayor. Mr. Morton continued running their business and making it the best known funeral service in the area. In 1968, Mr. Morton became partners with the Whitehurst family, with Mr. Manford continuing to manage and operate Stephens & Bean.
In 1985, Stephens & Bean celebrated its 100th
anniversary by purchasing and relocating a 15th
-century Elizabethan period interior of an Oak Room, with priceless Elizabethan figures over the fireplace, painstakingly hand-carved in Belgium. Originally, the room was taken to England and assembled in a mansion on Trafalgar Square, near Westminster Abbey. In 1930, it was disassembled and brought by boat to San Francisco. It remained there, where it was often referred to as one of San Francisco’s most beautiful rooms. Relocated to Stephens & Bean in 1985, it is now a reception facility for the many families we serve.
In 2002, a crematory was added, giving us a full-service facility all in one location. Today, we are proud to be part of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. We are committed to exceeding expectations and delivering a standard of service that is 100 percent guaranteed.