Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Inc., Essling Chapel was recently honored by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch for serving LaPorte for 60 years.
President and CEO Frank Keszei, who worked at Kaniewski Funeral Home in South Bend for 25 years and long dreamed of owning his own, bought the funeral home that Vincent and Ellen Essling founded in 1958 and that the Essling family ran until their son died unexpectedly in 2014.
"They were very well-established in the community," he said. "The only changes I made were some updates. I kept it traditional."
Keszei said he knew the business would be OK after the LaPorte community embraced him after his son was nearly killed in a car accident four months after he took over.
"The community really rallied around me," he said. "They made me feel very welcome."
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The funeral home at 1117 Indiana Ave. offers an array of funerary services, including traditional services, cremation, memorials, caskets, vaults, and urns.
"I've always thought it was an absolute honor and privilege to work with people during one of the most difficult times of their lives," he said. "My philosophy is provide the best service I possibly can. It was an honor to be recognized for 60 years, and hopefully we last another 60."
Keszei said a secret to longevity is excellent customer service that cements a business's reputation. He makes a point of meeting with each customer and handling each customer's arrangements himself.
"It's the only type of business in the entire country that's still family-owned and hands-on," he said. "The family-owned drug stores went away, as did many, many other businesses. This is one of the last ones that remains family-owned."