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Bast-Stauffer Funeral Home in Boonsboro has evolved over the years

May 06, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

BOONSBORO - With the passing of John Harlan Bast Jr. last fall, the historic Bast Funeral Home has experienced some changes - its name and the range of options available to its customers by the new owners.

But everyone associated with Bast-Stauffer Funeral Home agrees that the quality of service, the compassionate associates and the warm and comfortable surroundings will remain as before.

After all, the business has relied on those attributes since 1837 when the business began.

Tom Bikle, nephew of John Bast Jr. and his personal representative, said when his uncle passed away last fall, there were seven responses to invitations to acquire the business.

One of those was G. Douglas Stauffer, who had served an apprenticeship at Bast in the 1970s - first at the former downtown Boonsboro location and then at the current site on Old National Pike which opened in 1972.

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Stauffer now has six locations, five in Frederick County and Bast in Washington County.

A Walkersville native, Stauffer said he still knows a lot of people in and around Boonsboro from his apprenticeship days. "I never lost my contacts here," he said.

While he is committed to traditions and staying with what works, Stauffer is also not afraid of new ideas to enhance services to families.

"I was at a Chicago convention and am happy to say we are ahead in every area here except personalization," Stauffer said.

This area for growth includes DVDs of services, memorial candles, portraits, video displays of the viewing and services available online, Stauffer said.

That will be very attractive to family members who live far away or those in the military who are unable to come home for services, said Paul Dean, a longtime employee who is continuing under the new management.

Another new offering will be the availability of gold and silver thumb print pendants of the deceased.

A new larger, more private and homier room for arrangements has been carved out inside the building. There is also a handicapped restroom to serve all patrons.

"Baby boomers want it all," Stauffer said. "It's a matter of recognizing those desires and making them available."

Bottom line, Stauffer said, is that people want to be treated fairly and with compassion and he assures all that will continue under the new ownership.

He added that all pre-planned accounts will be honored by the new owners.

Kelly Zimmerman has been with Bast for seven years and she is excited about the changes. "I'm the fulltime embalmer here," she said.

All the Bast-Stauffer employees are morticians - a requirement since everyone must be able to do it all.

Stauffer's son, George, has literally grown up in the family business. But he hastened to add that he chose the profession.

"I was about 19 when I told my dad there had to be a better way to make a living than falling off a horse," said George Stauffer, a former horse trainer.

So he made the commitment, went to school in Nashville, Tenn., where he met his future wife. He has been a licensed funeral director since 2000.

Other members of the Stauffer family will also be working with the existing staff.

For more information on services at the Bast-Stauffer Funeral Home, call 301-432-8388.

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