Baue Funeral Homes, Crematory & St. Charles Memorial Gardens is proving that the funeral profession will do much more than merely survive the changing times. Those who remember our traditional values while simultaneously welcoming new experiences and ways of doing business will not only maintain market share—they will grow and thrive.
Innovation Inspired by Humble Beginnings
For over eighty years, Baue has been proudly serving Missouri families. In 1935, Arthur C. Baue and Clarence Hackmann opened a funeral home together under the name of “Hackmann-Baue.” In 1949, the two partners purchased an additional location, a beautiful Victorian Salvater home. After Mr. Hackmann’s death, Arthur Baue became sole owner and President of the Baue Funeral Home until his retirement in 1968. During this period, Arthur Baue purchased the Steinbrinker Funeral Home in St. Charles. Through this venture, Arthur laid the foundation of what is now the leading funeral home operation in St. Charles county.
In order to provide St. Charles with a funeral home unlike any other, every detail was meticulously attended. A large chapel was added in 1961 to accommodate the city’s growing population. Additionally, the interior décor was carefully selected by Arthur’s wife, Viola, to comfort grieving families in their time of need. Numerous decorating awards were presented to the Baues by local groups and industry associations to recognize the beauty and grace of their efforts.
Servitude that Spans Generation
Mr. Baue believed that funeral homes were an oft-overlooked pillar of the community. He lived by the motto “service to others,” which has become a cornerstone of their rich tradition. He gave his time and resources to many groups in St. Charles, from founding the St. Charles Salvation Army to serving as one of the charter members of the St. Charles Kiwanis. Although Arthur Baue passed away February 6, 1982, his entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to service continues to be an inspiration to their organization and the St. Charles community.
Arthur’s son, David C. Baue, joined in 1957, became president in 1968 and served until his untimely death in 1987. Like his father, David continued the tradition of quality service to families in St. Charles County. During his tenure, the Baue organization grew dramatically. David saw the need to expand and improve the facilities, growing the business by acquiring many existing funeral home operations.
Foresight Beyond Funeral Homes
David recognized the unfulfilled need for a dignified and beautiful cemetery in St. Charles County. In 1964, he joined with Fred Newman as co-owner of St. Charles Memorial Gardens. Under the Baue family’s ownership since 1986, St. Charles Memorial Gardens has become the leading cemetery in the county, proudly exhibiting beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens which include religious theme gardens, mausoleums, lakeside gardens, and the “Field of Honor”, the only garden in St. Charles County dedicated solely to veterans.
David also had the foresight to see shifts and trends in the funeral industry many years before they became popular. Recognizing the importance of having a plan in place, St. Charles County Funeral Plan was officially formed in 1961 to assist pre-need families. David also felt strongly about helping families through the grieving process in the months after a death. In 1983, he formed the Baue Grief Resource Program, which continues to be one of the most comprehensive programs in the Midwest. This program provides various support services, including individual family follow-ups, grief support groups, community and professional education programs, and a resource lending library.
Building Upon Strong Foundations
Families who choose Baue get so much more than a funeral home. This has become especially apparent under Lisa A. Baue, who served as a funeral director in the family business since 1979 before becoming president of Baue Funeral Homes and St. Charles Memorial Gardens in 1987. Lisa, like her grandfather and father, is dedicated to serving families with the same personal care and quality service as is their longstanding tradition.
“When she became President in 1987 after my grandfather passed away, she really began to build our company to what it is today,” explains John Baue Devaney, Lisa’s son and Vice President/Co-Owner of Baue Funeral Homes. “I joined the Baue team in September of 2008 after working in a few other industries but ultimately realizing this is what I really wanted to do. I came on board after completing an apprenticeship and helped develop our pet services and then became a funeral director.”
In 2009, Baue Funeral Homes created Baue Pet Services, an extension of Baue Funeral Homes that offers cremation services, pet urns, caskets, stones, and memorial items to families of pets. Baue Pet Services offers a Tribute Center for services. A pet loss support group is also available that allows families to express their emotions and help them with their loss.
Today, the Baue organization is comprised of multiple locations that offer a blend of modern and traditional services. In addition to the Baue Pet Memorial Center, Baue operates St. Charles Memorial Gardens, a Center for Hope and Healing as well as a renowned Care & Cremation Center.
“In our newly renovated O’Fallon location, families always tell us that they don’t feel like they are in a funeral home. It is very bright, modern, and fresh,” explains John. “We removed the old pews to make room for new chairs and we redesigned the space to have soothing blue and grey colors throughout with gold accents. Our arrangement room is absolutely gorgeous, it is a combination of an arrangement room and selection room and it is honestly breathtaking,” John says proudly.
The Cave Springs location goes beyond the traditional options offered at St. Charles locations. Its fresh and modern look has been revered by today’s families—it is currently the largest and most used facility located on the grounds of the Memorial Gardens.
“From the time you enter the front lobby, it’s clear that it is more than a funeral home. The facility combines the elegance and quality service of traditional funeral homes with modern and convenient amenities not found in most funeral homes in the region. We have a chapel, a flower shop, large rooms, a reception center, a lounge with Starbucks Coffee machines, and playrooms for children,” describes John.
Inside the Cave Springs location, Lisa built an on-site flower and gift shop in 1999 which continues to thrive today. The shop gives families the opportunity to buy flowers and gifts on-site—a unique touch that families and friends attending services or visiting the memorial grounds truly appreciate. Baue maintains an impressive floral selection via a contract with a local florist who crafts beautiful arrangements for all situations and seasons. The on-site shop also offers a subscription-type floral program where families can pay for flowers to be placed on the gravesite of their loved one throughout the year.
“We know convenience is important to grieving families. That’s why we created a place for them to pick up flowers and other grave decorating items right on the property. We have everything they need to honor and memorialize their loved ones—flowers, plants, garden stones, sympathy cards and a wide variety of other tribute items. We also now have an entire online store as well for the flower and gift shop, so families don’t have to physically come in to order things,” continues John.
Bringing Unique New Tributes to Life
After 80 years of service, the Baue organization remains a top choice amongst Missouri families largely due to the tributes created by their experienced and forward-thinking team.
“We do a lot of the same things that other funeral homes do around the country—dove releases, candlelight tributes, bio-degradable balloon and butterfly releases, and musical accompaniments. We also offer some extremely unique services, from a horse-drawn carriage to a Harley-Davidson hearse which is pretty unique. But what really sets us apart when it comes to our tributes is our staff and their creativity,” explains John. “We encourage our staff to really listen to our families and create tributes that are truly memorable and meaningful. Each funeral director gets an allowance to spend on families throughout the year. They can then buy or create something truly unique each time they serve a family.”
There is no limit to the Baue team’s creativity. They have meticulously planned and activated just about any type of life-honoring tribute you could imagine, from a tiki hut complete with sand, margaritas, island shirts, and Jimmy Buffet music to creating a playable bowling alley down the middle of their chapel. They’ve even constructed a full duck blind and made a mini golf course.
“We put the power in the hands of our directors. They know their budget and they don’t have to check in with us every time. We don’t just have tiki huts on hand here,” laughs John. “So, it’s up to them to come up with the idea and execute it. We give them the creative freedom to serve our families to the best of their ability. When families come in, we need them to see we have gone above and beyond their expectations. We want them to feel like they are the only ones we are serving,” John proudly says.
A New Legacy of Leadership
Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and mother, John is now stepping up to serve families with professionalism, compassion and forward-thinking ways to honor their loved ones. For these efforts, John has already been recognized as this year’s NextGen Professional of the Year.
For years, Selected Independent Funeral Home’s NextGen Group has sought to prove that there are many talented and engaged funeral professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The NextGen Professional of the Year Award was created to honor and recognize the efforts of these young professionals.
“I was honored to be nominated and now to be in the presence of others who have won this award before me, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude,” said John, explaining that the award has always been a dream of his: “When I first started attending Selected Independent Funeral Home events and the NexGen Seminars, and I saw someone win that award, I knew right then and there that I was going to work hard to win that award one day—but winning it now was a total surprise.”
John was humbled to discover how highly his employees thought of him, “I want to thank the Selected committee and all the people who sent in letters to nominate me. Tons of my staff—about 117 employees—sent in letters about me. Reading through those was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” he says happily.
John believes that much of the business’s success is due to their outstanding relationships with many longstanding partners, including Bass-Mollett. Long before John even began working for the funeral home, Baue and Bass-Mollett had a strong relationship.
“I would definitely recommend them to a fellow funeral director,” John explains, “It was an honor to be nominated by them for this feature and have the chance to share our story. They have great customer service—it’s clear how much they truly care about their clients. There is a personal touch on everything they do. They are always looking for ways to be innovative and stay ahead of the curve in this ever-changing funeral profession,” he explains.
Facing the Unknown with Confidence
The Baue team will continue to grow by providing fresh ideas and the same level of quality service to their community. Warm, personalized service given to families by caring professionals in a comfortable setting has always been the hallmark of their proud past and will continue to be the standard of their future.
“It may sound strange, but I am looking forward to the unknown,” says John, “Where there is an unknown, there are also so many opportunities—especially in the funeral profession. We all know that the cremation rate is rising and will continue to rise, we cannot fear this, we must embrace it. The way funerals are being conducted is changing with the generational shift and we cannot fear this, we have to tackle it head on. The way we as funeral professionals do business is changing before our eyes and is not going to stop or slow down. Instead of running away from the changes, ignoring them or trying to change them back, we must be thinking forward about how to stay relevant in a society that is fast-paced and craves convenience.”
To counter this, John advises helping families plan what they are asking for and what they need in today’s world. He elaborates: “It’s okay if families are not asking for traditional funerals. Be there to educate them on the importance of having a celebration of life and help them plan whatever that may look like.”
The Baue staff is key to providing that pivotal direction to grieving families. For that reason, John and Lisa are renovating part of their Cave Springs location to make a space for staff to unwind, relax and clear their minds. John and Lisa know just how hard their jobs are and how much their staff give. Creating a place where they can physically and mentally recharge ensures they continue to perform at their best.
“To be a successful funeral home, you have to take care of your staff, so they can take care of your families,” says John, “That’s why we are creating a relaxation area and quiet room specifically for our staff. It will have big reclining massage chairs, essential oils diffusing, noise-canceling headphones and water features that make relaxing sounds. And, no cell phones are allowed here. It’s truly a place for employees to escape from the world and tune everything out for a few minutes. We want to give our staff more than just a lunch room: we’re creating a whole sensory experience that is truly unique.”
The Baue organization has been committed to St. Charles families for over 84 years. They have seen times change and have always found a way to not only stay relevant—they have established innovative new standards for the funeral profession as a whole. As John and Lisa Baue embrace their strong heritage and face the future full of optimism, the success of the Baue legacy is one that will never wane. FBA