Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home receives national award

TRAVERSE CITY – The Perry Hannah House, once a single-family dwelling owned by the pioneer founder of Traverse City, has served as a funeral home since 1937.

Continuing its tradition of excellence in funeral service at this Traverse City landmark, Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home Inc. of Traverse City received the 2004 Pursuit of Excellence Emeritus award from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) at its convention in Nashville Oct. 18.

This is the sixth and most prodigious award Dan and Peg Jonkhoff has received since 1999. The award honors funeral homes for their outstanding community service, technical ability, public relations and professional integrity.

NFDA, one of the leading funeral service associations in the United States, serves more than 21,000 individual members and 12,000 funeral homes.

From its headquarters in Brookfield, Wis., and its advocacy office in Washington, D.C., NFDA provides, education, products, programs and services to help members enhance the quality of service to the families seeking their expertise and resources.

“Pursuit of Excellence funeral homes provide innovative and compassionate care to the families they serve,” said Christine Pepper, NFDA chief executive officer. “Through their commitment to their communities and the highest professional standards, these funeral homes are raising the bar for all funeral service providers in the country.”

NFDA’s Pursuit of Excellence was created in 1981 as a distinguished program that establishes a high standard of excellence and ethics in the funeral business. Receiving the Pursuit of Excellence Emeritus award from NFDA, honors the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home with a high-profile national recognition.

The Pursuit of Excellence program has six levels of recognition: achievement, continuing achievement, eagle, golden eagle, emeritus and crystal eagle.

Achieving recognition in the program is a rigorous and detailed process. A funeral home must meet strict quality service criteria in nine categories, which include: education, compassionate service, technical skills, community and professional service, library or media resources, professional development, in-house staff training and community relations.

Today, the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home is Traverse City’s only locally and family-owned funeral home. The Jonkhoff family has been in the business for five generations.

Gerrit Jonkhoff, the first generation of the Jonkhoff funeral home dynasty, was born in the Netherlands and came to the United States in 1872 at the age of 32. Gerrit’s profession at the time was a furniture craftsman, so he settled in Grand Rapids, known for its fine furniture industry.

Gerrit became interested in “undertaking” through the making of coffins for funeral directors. He opened his own undertaking parlor when he was 65. His son, Ralph, took over Gerrit’s “undertaking house” after he suffered a severe stroke. The dynasty continued with Ralph’s son, Harold.

Harold’s two sons also entered the business, one remained in the Grand Rapids business and the other, Jack, purchased the Reynolds Hanson Funeral Home on Sixth Street in Traverse City in 1977, renaming it the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home six years later.

After 40 years of service in the funeral home, Jack sold the business to Dan, the fifth generation of the Jonkhoff dynasty, and Peg Jonkhoff in 1992.

Dan Jonkhoff feels being an independent, family owner of a funeral home allows for more flexibility and personal care, because they work, live and participate as part of the community. They know the customs and needs of the people they serve. “We provide caring guidance that provides meaningful memories and do it your way,” he said.

As part of their mission statement, Dan, Peg and their staff of professionals pledge to preserve the historic Perry Hannah House to the best of their ability, yet operate a state-of-the-art funeral home.

Perry Hannah, one of Traverse City’s most prominent philanthropic benefactors, began construction on his magnificent Victorian dwelling in September of 1891.

Hannah’s home was designed in the Queen Anne style by W.G. Robinson of Grand Rapids. With four full floors, 34 rooms, not counting six bathrooms, a fireplace in almost every room, a different wood trim featured in many rooms, a skylight that runs through the building from the entrance hall and three porches.

The private residence eventually became a natural place for the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.

Entering through solid oak doors graced with hand cut beveled glass from Tiffany’s, one is transported back into another era.

The beauty of the golden oak, double spindled stairway with a small Romeo and Juliet balcony lends credence to the mood of being in someone’s private residence, not a business.

In this out-of-the-ordinary atmosphere, the Jonkhoffs, in accordance with their Pursuit of Excellence Emeritus award, provide special services and programs for not only their clientele families, but the entire community.

As a way of giving back to the people they’ve served for the past 21 years, the funeral home offers a program that provides bereaved adults and children practical coping strategies to get through the holiday season.

The Jonkhoffs and their staff are actively engaged in community affairs from school programs to hospice, medical groups, government and service organizations and community projects.

Peg Jonkhoff was honored as the 2003 Historian of the Year by the Grand Traverse Pioneer and Historical Society for her vision and fund-raising leadership, to benefit the Grand Traverse Heritage Center and preservation efforts at the Perry Hannah House.

The Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home staff includes five funeral directors, including Dan Jonkhoff, three certified pre-planning consultants, five office staff, managed by Peg Jonkhoff, and two funeral assistants. BN