FAIRLAWN, Ohio — The pandemic is killing families’ final farewells. As deaths surge again, area funeral homes are moving services online or outside where families can safely say goodbye from a home computer or a graveside. Funeral chapels that normally hold 450 people are folding out chairs for 50 and roping off pews. Visiting hours are limited to small groups that take turns having their temperatures checked when they enter funeral homes.
Wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus in 2020, Nathanael M. Billow flipped through a stack of funeral cards from a pandemic more than a century ago.
The yellow cards, measuring 4 by 6 inches, were filled out in ink by his ancestors at the family business now known as Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory.
“We use the same filing system that we used then,” said Billow, executive vice president and treasurer of the company. “We have file cabinets that go up to the ceiling.”
Nathanael Billow, executive vice president and treasurer for Billow Funeral Homes, said the funeral homes his family owns are ordering extra products they use in preparing bodies, sanitizing their funeral homes with industrial-strength cleaners and reviewing with funeral directors the regulations surrounding the care of the deceased.“The guidance that we have, we want to be very safe and we want to be very proactive,” Billow said.The 145-year-old Billow Funeral Homes company, like others in the business, is in new territory as its strives to be sensitive to grieving families as well as respond to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
Winston Churchill said, “To each there comes a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance todo a very special thing. ”For the next generation of leaders at the BillowCo., that time is now.
For the past 145 years, we’ve set the standards for professionalism and compassion, offering dignified cremation and burial services toAkron, Cuyahoga Falls and Kent. Long viewed as the gold standard for funeral services inThe 330, the Billow Co.relies on a team of six directors with over 200years of cumulative experience to prepare the next generation fora life of service.
After a friendship lasting decades, the Bissler family and the Billow family have become more than that. They’re now business partners.
Billow Funeral Homes and Crematory Owner Chip Billow said his funeral home and Bissler & Sons Funeral Home have finalized a merger as of Aug. 1.
“The thing that’s exciting about this is that it has been a lifelong friendship between Rick (Bissler) and me,” Billow said. “It’s a perfect fit from his perspective, and it’s a perfect fit from our perspective.”
Explore recent news from the Billow family.
It is a bond of friendship through funeral service that started over 100 years ago. Now those bonds are stronger than ever. The Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory, Summit County’s first and finest funeral home, and Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, Portage County’s premiere funeral home, have come together as one to serve Northeast Ohio - TOGETHER. The move will ensure that the Bissler family’s 115 year legacy of providing local best-in-class service to the community of Kent will continue on under the leadership of the Billow family, who have served greater Akron for over 143 years. The cities of Akron, Kent, and Cuyahoga Falls deserve the absolute very best – this move will ensure that the citizens of Summit County and Portage County will continue to have access to the highest levels of compassionate care when faced with the loss of a loved one.
The bonds between the two families run deep, going all the way back to the beginning of the 1900s when Captain George Billow, founder of The Billow Co. in 1875, helped his neighbor to the east, Sam C. Bissler, start his funeral practice in 1903. Pictured below is a meeting of the Ohio Funeral Director’s Association in 1918 – George Billow and Sam Bissler can be seen in the first row (bottom left) standing shoulder to shoulder.
Together, the Billow’s and Bissler’s have a combined 250 year tradition, spanning six-generations, of providing compassionate, respectful, and dignified services in an economical manner to the families entrusted into their care.