VACAVILLE — McCune Garden Chapel has been serving Vacaville for 75 years – and then some.
Del McCune founded the present incarnation of the business in 1938. But, in another sense, McCune Garden Chapel is even older, since he founded it by buying Stewart Funeral Home.
McCune, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, graduated from the San Francisco College of Embalming in 1934. He married Elizabeth Ann Gabel in April 1937. The couple came to Vacaville in 1938, with McCune wanting to have his own business.
McCune worked hard. Besides running the funeral home – the only one in Vacaville at the time – he and his father ran Solano Ice and Soda Works across the street.
Barbara McCune remembers her father’s work ethic.
“It was his life,” Barbara McCune said. “It was his thing – to serve the people and give them the best he could. He was a good embalmer, the makeup and everything.”
She grew up next-door to the funeral home, in a house that became and remains home to Rose Florist & Gift Shop.
Ambulance services during this era were often part of funeral homes. Del McCune ran an ambulance service in Vacaville. Barbara McCune recalled breaking her leg in fifth grade and her father driving to get her in the ambulance.
The funeral home provided ambulance service until the late 1950s.
In addition, Del McCune and his father were charter members of the Vacaville Rotary Club. Del McCune served as coroner and deputy coroner for Solano County.
Del McCune died in 1993 and Barbara McCune inherited the family business. She decided to carry on.
“My top thing is to give the service and compassion and give the people whatever they want,” she said.
Prior to her father’s death, she hadn’t been involved in the day-to-day business. She was a teacher for 28 years in Marin County. Still, she wanted to keep McCune Garden Chapel in the family.
“Just to keep it going,” Barbara McCune said. “It was one of the older businesses (in Vacaville). To try to keep the name going, the place going.”
She praised the office manager, Janet Kelley.
“We’re on the same wavelength,” Barbara McCune said. “She’s a very good friend, on top of being the manager. And we have a staff I feel is really outstanding.”
The original funeral home was located in a building that looked like a house. The present-day version got established largely in 1954, when the business made a major expansion.
Among the additions was today’s chapel. The centerpiece is a painting on the front wall about 18 feet high depicting tranquil scenery with pine trees, a river and waterfalls.
Barbara McCune can remember when the painting got painted during her childhood.
“There’s one tree I did a couple of brush strokes on,” she said.
The chapel includes modern touches. For example, a big screen is available where people can show DVD videos during services.
Barbara McCune also runs Milton Carpenter Funeral Home in Dixon. Del McCune bought that business in 1972.
Vacaville has changed much since McCune Garden Chapel got founded. For one thing, the city had only about 1,500 residents in 1938.
But while Vacaville has changed, McCune Garden Chapel has continued serving the community from the same location at 212 Main St.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.