About Us


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The first funeral service provider in Pike County, known then as an Undertaking Business, was founded and opened in Beaver in 1887 by Benjamin Franklin West. Mr. West operated the business, offering services such as custom built caskets and a horse drawn hearse, for nine years.

In 1896, Mr. West sold his business to Valentine Gableman. Mr. Gableman added a hardware store to accompany the undertaking establishment, but only operated both for a short time and decided to sell both businesses two years later to George Leist Jr. and Henry Wilking.

To add to their new venture, the newly established partners purchased a new funeral car and Mr. Leist enrolled in the Champion City College of Embalming which was located in Springfield, Ohio, in order to learn procedures required for embalming.

A few years later the businesses were sold to Jim and Frank Hoover in 1901. The Hoovers operated the undertaking business and hardware store for three years, and in 1904, sold the entities back to George Leist Jr.

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At that time, Mr. Leist took on a new partner, his brother-in-law, Omer Davis. On August 17, 1904, the Leist and Davis Hardware, Furniture and Undertaking Business was formerly founded. Mr. Davis also attended the Champion City College of Embalming in order to obtain needed skills and was in charge of the undertaking duties, while Mr. Leist managed the furniture and hardware store. After operating nearly 15 years, they introduced the first motorized hearse to the area in August of 1917. Soon after, an assistant, Lamar Hammerstein, was hired to help with daily operations.

In 1926, the Omer Davis Company was formed when Mr. Davis purchased Mr. Leist’s shares of their company. Mr. Davis operated all three entities for a short while, but decided to sell the hardware store to Willis and Stoll.

Mr. Davis purchased a new limousine funeral car measuring over 18 feet long in 1927. The company had also acquired an invalid coach and three other cars by this time. In 1929, the Omer Davis Company became the first full service funeral home in the area.

In 1936, the entity became known as the Davis-Hammerstein Company and on October 1, 1952, Omer Davis sold his share of the company to Lamar and Robert Hammerstein.

Later, the Hammerstein men decided to separate the furniture store and the funeral home, but kept the funeral home in its original location on Main St., across from the Beaver school.

The Hammerstein’s operated the funeral home until 1974, at which time the business was sold to James and Helen Purdy. The Purdy family, along with Mike Patrick who was an apprentice, operated the funeral home until 1978.

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It was in 1978 that Mr. Cox graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He and his wife, Cheryl purchased the funeral home from Mr. and Mrs. Purdy in 1978. The Cox Family made Beaver their home and continued to operate the family owned business for the next 34 years. History was made when Mrs. Cox became the first licensed woman funeral director in Pike County.

On January 17, 1994, with heavy snow and temperatures below 0 degrees, a fire destroyed the funeral home. Firefighters battled, but had no success, due to the inclement weather.

Left without a structure to operate from, Mr. and Mrs. Cox decided to dedicate their home, which was located adjacent to the previous funeral home, to serve as the new place of service and funeral home.

Mr. Cox died in 2009, at which time Mrs. Cox, accompanied by her son, Roger A. Cox, continued operating the funeral home. With 34 years of service, Mrs. Cox sold the funeral home to Matt Burkitt in December of 2011 to continue on with service to the community that started over 100 years ago.

Gary Cantrell began work in funeral service in 1974 when he was employed by Lamar Hammerstein. Mr. Cantrell’s dedication to serving the community continued with the Purdy and Cox families, and extends to date with his invaluable support through the Cox Burkitt Funeral Home.

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After reading the above, it is easy to see there is a vast and interesting history that follows the story of funeral service in the Beaver area.

We at the Cox Burkitt Funeral Home are honored and proud to be a part of this unique history.

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**We would like to extend a special thanks to the Beaver Valley Historical Society and Mrs. Cheryl Cox for their help in providing details in the information above.

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