HUNTERSVILLE – Kepner Funeral Homes, a family-owned business in Wheeling, W.Va., signed a letter of intent to purchase Raymer Funeral Home in Huntersville.
Representatives for the Raymer family said they did not want to comment as lawyers for both sides continue to negotiate details of the sale.
If the sale to brothers John and Jim Kepner closes as planned, officials expect Raymer’s seven employees to continue with the business, established in 1989 by partners Milton Almond, John Raymer and Murray McConnell.
Ginnie Putnam, the current manager, said she hopes to remain with the company. Before John Raymer died in May 2009, “I promised John I’d do my best to keep the business going.”
Putnam began working with John Raymer in 1973, when both worked for Cavin Funeral Home in Huntersville. Raymer, Almond and McConnell decided to start their own business – Almond, Raymer & McConnell Funeral Home – when a national firm bought Cavin, which now operates as Cavin-Cook Funeral Home in Mooresville.
They brought Putnam with them from Cavin. “I sort of moved with the furniture,” Putnam said. Raymer bought out his partners when they retired.
John Kepner, who plans to move here from Wheeling if the sale goes through, is a fourth-generation funeral director. He didn’t want to discuss the negotiations but added, “We’re excited.”
Another family established the W.Va. funeral home in 1845 and operated the business for two generations, John Kepner said. The Kepner family acquired the business, and Kepner’s son, Jonathan, represents the fifth generation of the family to go into the funeral home business. If the sale goes through as planned, Johnathan Kepner would come to Huntersville after he finishes mortuary school to work with his dad, John Kepner said.
As the sale negotiations progressed, the Raymer family let Manager Sam James go because of differences about the sale, according to James. He started his own firm, Samuel S. James, Funeral Service Licensee.
James, 25, who had worked for Raymer since he was 16 years old, said he offers a better value with the same personal service. He is temporarily renting space at a local funeral home for his embalming work, and he meets with the family at their home and arranges for visitation and funerals at a local church if the family doesn’t have one.