Family-Run Businesses Pleasant View Dairy and Fagen Miller Funeral Home Have Served Several Generations of Highland Residents
In the years since 1928, when E. Leep and his wife Hilda bought a dairy farm near Lowell known as the Pleasant View Farm, the family business has evolved with the times.
In 1931, E. Leep and Hilda went into the retail business in Highland. Milk was 14 cents a quart so they decided to sell it for 10 cents. On the first day they filled 60 quarts in the milk shed and sold 46.
From there the business grew from Highland to much of northern Indiana and Illinois.
“Business has shifted,” Pleasant View Dairy Secretary/Treasurer Fred Leep said. “It has gone from what it was back in the mid-60s predominately a home delivery milk business with 30 small route trucks out in the neighborhoods delivering door to door to more of a wholesale-based business delivering to supermarkets and larger customers.”
The changes came about as a result of people’s changing working and shopping habits, Fred Leep said. “There are less people home during day. Most of the milk is now purchased in the supermarket.”
Pleasant View Dairy, located at 2625 Highway Ave. since 1948, is now owned by third generation family members Fred Leep, his brother Bill Leep and his cousin Bart Leep.
The dairy receives raw mile from local farms and then processes it, packages it and distributes it to area stores, schools and institutions. Fred Leep said the company stopped home deliveries in 1991.
Fred Leep said the dairy’s business motto is “Pleasant View Dairy taste the difference that freshness makes.”
“Being a small local provider, we have the benefit of moving the raw milk in and out of our facility very quickly,” Fred Leep said. “Sometimes the milk that was on the farm this morning will be in your supermarket tomorrow which is a very fast turnaround when you think how much happens to that product in between the actual farm and where it ends up on the market shelf.”
Future plans, Fred Leep said, are to continue on with what the dairy has been doing for about the past 81 years, providing the best products available to the Calumet Region and beyond.
“We are always looking to find new customers and develop that,” Fred Leep said.
The Leep family believes in giving back to the community by working with local non-profits including the Highland Kiwanis Club, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels and partnering with other local business like Strack and Van Til Supermarkets in supporting the American Heart Association at their Heart of Gold gala.
Larry Miller is the fourth generation owner of Fagen-Miller Funeral Home located at 2828 Highway Ave. in Highland, with funeral homes also in St. John, Dyer and Griffith. His son Rick is the fifth generation family member to work at the funeral home.
Fagen-Miller Funeral Home, which has been family owned and operated since 1896, has a staff of experienced and professional funeral directors, Miller said, who are devoted to helping families honor the memory of their loved ones.
“If you are suddenly faced with a loss in the family, or grieving the loss of a friend, put your trust in the people with experience, dedication, and compassion,” Miller said. “Funerals should be meaningful, reflect the individual, and celebrate the life they led. Personalized funerals are more involved, giving people a chance to remember what made that individual so unique. A funeral is one of the most personal, emotional occasions a family will ever share, with many options to consider.
Services at Fagen-Miller include: assisting family members in contacting churches, insurance company and veteran’s agencies; arranging the obituary notice in the local newspaper; attending to specific wishes, customs or religious considerations, regardless of denomination; arranging traditional and non-traditional funerals, as well as cremation services and memorial services; and offering a wide selection of caskets along with other items that can help personalize services.
In 1896, Fagen-Miller Funeral Home began with Michael Fagen, as Fagen Funeral Parlor. When he passed away in 1929, the business was then handed over to his son Nichols Fagen, who was also a licensed funeral director, and his wife Eva. The two continued the funeral parlor while beginning an ambulance service as well.
Nicholas Fagen established a funeral home in Highland in 1941 and, as a memorial to his parents; he designed a natural rock garden casket set in a soothing, peaceful atmosphere where it was deemed Fagen Funeral Garden. It still resides in the Garden Chapel in Highland.
Fagen’s first daughter, Maureen, married Bob Miller, who joined the business and purchased the funeral homes in 1970. Four years later they purchased Royce Funeral Home in Griffith, their third funeral home.
The Fagen-Miller Ambulance Service became a separate corporation in 1981, operated by Bob and Maureen’s children, Jerry, Terry and Gary. Continuing in the family tradition, Maureen and their son Larry have managed funeral homes since Bob died in 1981, Larry Miller opened a funeral home in St John in 2002.