WEST MILTON — Hale-Sarver Family Funeral Home in West Milton has recently completed of Phase I of its remodeling and expansion project. The funeral home is located at 284 N. Miami St.
Jim Sarver, fourth-generation owner and funeral director at Hale-Sarver, would like to thank the 600-plus community members who returned surveys in 2015.
“Your replies helped determine the scope of this project. We have planned and completed these projects in response to the varied needs of our community,” he said.
The 1,500-square-foot addition and upgrade of the existing funeral home was completed in December 2016, and has been well received by the public. The addition provides more seating for guests, a larger lobby area, fully handicapped-accessible restrooms, a special “kid-friendly” area, and a large gathering space for visiting guests and family members.
New comfortable semi-permanent seating in the existing chapel is another upgrade to the home. The elimination of any steps or ramps has allowed easier access for visitors, with the entire home on one level and completely handicapped-accessible.
With Phase I now complete, Phase II of the Hale-Sarver project will begin shortly. After the recent removal of an older structure at 276 N. Miami St. next to the funeral home, Hale-Sarver is planning to construct a park area.
Sarver shared some details of his vision of the project.
“We are planning a green space with a park to honor all veterans and first responders of the communities of the Union Township area. There will be trees, flowers, benches, and tables, with the thought that this will be a quiet spot for families to reflect and remember,” Sarver said.
Also planned as part of Phase II are updates and improvements to The Hale Guest House. The Hale House, built in 2000, provides lodging for out-of-town family members while at Hale-Sarver for funeral services. These three guest rooms will still be available on the second floor of the Hale House.
The downstairs of the Hale Guest House will soon be converted to a reception and celebration of life center. This will be an area for families to gather, in a convenient location next to the funeral home, for a meal and fellowship after funeral services for a loved one. The Hale House reception center will be handicapped-accessible and will also serve as a location for various community group meetings.
“This new reception center was also planned in response to the community surveys and the wishes of our families,” Sarver said. “We have catered receptions in various locations in our existing funeral home for many years now. The Hale Guest House reception center will provide a dedicated space with more seating area for family members and guests.”
Another project being planned, as Phase III, is a permanent location for a Union Township museum and research center. Rachel Ann (Sarver) Minnich has amassed a large collection of local historical items and information over the past 60 years. Genealogists and other admirers of Union Township and West Milton history will be especially interested in this future museum. This portion of the Hale-Sarver project is still in the works, and details will be released in the future.
The present location of Hale-Sarver Family Funeral Home, 284 N. Miami St., was originally a nine-room brick structure built by the family of William Rutledge. The house has been home to the Rutledge, Furnas, Eby, and Kraus families. The large Furnas family tree, found in the home’s attic by Carl and Rachel Ann Sarver, is a feature of the funeral home today. The 18-inch-thick walls of this original structure has survived the Great Flood of 1913, and has seen the interurban tracks and streetcars come and go.
After the 1953 purchase of this home by Carl and Rachel Ann to become the Hale-Sarver Family Funeral Home, the building has seen both minor and major changes. Completed in 1960, the current cathedral-type chapel addition was added on the south side of the original building. Various minor projects have been accomplished before the major addition was completed in 2016. Throughout the years, many hours have been spent to improve this historic 1853 structure. The focus of these improvements has always been to better serve families and the community.
Hale-Sarver is a family-owned funeral home with its fifth generation of funeral directors serving the area. The tradition began with Jim’s great-grandfather Roy Hale in 1896, grandparents Ray and Marion Harlacher, parents Carl and Rachel Ann, and continues today with Jim and his son Brian Sarver. And a possible sixth generation could carry on the tradition, with Jim and Tracy Sarver having 12 grandchildren.