Longtime Randolph County businesses Welge-Pechacek Funeral Homes and Pechacek-McClure Funeral Home have consolidated into one business under the name Pechacek Funeral Homes, which will be operated by the Pechacek family.
The consolidation, which took effect Sept. 1, gives the Pechacek family sole ownership of the funeral homes in Evansville, Red Bud and Chester.
Michael and Susan McClure, who had operated the businesses with Ronald and Pamela Pechacek since 1972, decided to leave the funeral business to start a new chapter in their lives, according to a news release. Owner and administrator Pamela Pechacek will continue in that role.
After Ron Pechacek's death in 2017, the family said they felt strongly about continuing his tradition of putting the family served first. The new business name honors Ron's four decades in the business, according to the release.
Funeral director Elizabeth Pechacek Ohlau, Ron and Pamela's daughter, will also oversee operations as an owner of the business. Ohlau received an associate degree in mortuary science and funeral services from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2000 and has been working with the family business for the past 17 years as manager of the Red Bud branch.
In addition, Richard Kehrer has joined the business as a director, the family announced. Kehrer, a Smithton native, graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor's degree in mortuary science and funeral service in 1999. He completed an apprenticeship at Welge-Pechacek Funeral Home in 2000. After the apprenticeship, he joined Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in both Illinois and Missouri.
Kehrer joins Ohlau, Joby Petrowske and Britney Schroeder as funeral directors. They all will work at the three locations, according to Ohlau.
Petrowske is a lifelong resident of Chester. She graduated from Chester High School in 1987 and received an associate degree in mortuary science and funeral service from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1991. After graduation, she worked for Schroeder-McClure Funeral Home in Chester. In 1994, she began working for the Welge-Pechacek Funeral Home. In 2000 she stepped away to focus on raising a family, during which she worked as a deputy court clerk maintaining criminal files at the Randolph County courthouse in Chester. She rejoined the Pechacek Funeral Home staff this past July.
Schroeder was born in Wichita, Kansas and raised in Chester. She graduated from Chester High School in 2011 and received a bachelor's degree in mortuary science and funeral service from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2017. After graduation, Britney completed both her internship and apprenticeship at Welge-Pechacek Funeral Home.
Ohlau said despite the changes, the mission of the Pechacek Funeral Homes remains the same and previous business arrangements will continue to be honored. Putting families first and meeting their needs in difficult times remains the business' cornerstone, she added.