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Strang Funeral: Changes Over 100 years

From a horse-drawn hearse to services paid for with some peaches and a few chickens, the Strang family business has seen drastic changes over the past 100 years.

Part of a series of articles about the Strang Funeral Chapel, one of the oldest businesses in Grayslake. The Strang family has roots in Grayslake that go back 113 years.

In its earliest days, the Strang Funeral business in Grayslake occasionally relied on a horse-drawn hearse, said David Strang, who is still involved with the family business today.

The local business began when George Strang started Strang Furniture and Undertaking in 1898. Strang Funeral Chapel officially opened in 1939 on Center Street.

David Strang remembered that when times were especially hard, customers would barter instead of paying cash for the services received.

“We received a case of peaches, a couple of chickens,” Strang said. “The one thing that caught me by surprise was when we went to pick up a dining set and the table had only three legs.”

Technology has impacted how the family has been able to communicate. In its past, Strang said there were no pagers, cell phones or answering machines to keep them within easy contact of families. There were no fax machines to submit obituary notices.

“Someone always had to be on standby and had to sit by a phone all the time,” he said. “We also had to phone in obituary notices and phonetically spell every name because they didn’t know.”  

Strang said that another change is that cremation is becoming a more popular option for families, considered by about 25 percent of families. To meet the increasing need, purchased a crematorium in 1996.

“It may be because of the economy as well as lifestyle changes,” he said.  

What has not changed, Strang said, is that people continue to trust him and feel comfortable with him to handle their most difficult period of time and render their services.

“We deal with them in every way you can think of, emotionally, physically, religiously and financially,” he said. “We put great pride in knowing that people put their trust and faith in us so that we can suffice their needs.”

Strang said his family has not been immune to caring for many people they have known, working and living within Grayslake for generations. And they have seen their community come together.

Read another article in the series about the Strang family has run their family business for 113 years.

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