Women in Funeral Service

Long before it was popular to have women in funeral service, Joldersma & Klein was a pioneer in this area of our profession. 

The story of Anna Klein, licensed to practice mortuary science in 1917, is a case in point. Let her tell the story:

“When my second daughter was 18 months old, my husband met with an accident which resulted in his inability to carry on. Up to that time I, like many other funeral director’s wives, only assisted when necessary, but when I was faced with the obligation of caring for an invalid husband, two babies and an indebtedness which was incurred when we began business some four years before, I was forced to secure my embalmer’s license. I found that I had entered a field that was new to women, not as assistants, but as embalmers and funeral directors in their own right.”

“I struggled, trying to make a success, and at times became very discouraged, even considered giving up. When I mentioned this to another funeral director, who might be termed a competitor, he encouraged me to continue.”

“’Anna,’ he said, ‘You’ve got what it takes. As a woman you are able to comfort families by your work in a way that men will never be able to do. You have all the sympathy and understanding needed for this work. Don’t quit.”

Nor did she. Anna Klein has made house calls, sold caskets, dressed and casketed the deceased, purchased appropriate garments and made and altered them, conducted the funeral and the interment, has driven the hearse and ambulance, washed cars, kept books – yes, has even dug the grave!

There was a shining example here. Anna Klein’s daughter, Arlene (Joldersma) VanDyken, gained her license, went on to assist her mother as a funeral director and embalmer.

To Anna Klein, the woman who makes a good mother and homemaker exhibits the essential qualities of a funeral director – patience, love, sympathy, industry and “plain hard common sense.”

“Equipped with these virtues and fortified by a little business training, any woman can become a top-rank funeral director,” Anna opined.

Women are still active in our business. Kylee Adams, wife of Joldersma & Klein owner, Dan Adams, performs many of the duties required of a male funeral service professional. Even as a busy mother of three, she has made removals, prepares death certificates for filing, does hair and make-up, ushered at services and worked visitations.

Laurie VanderBerg is our Director of Responsible Planning. Besides her busy schedule helping people plan in advance, she serves many families when a death has occurred. 

Lori Vigen is our Administrative Assistant. She coordinates many details required to make our services to families complete.

Women are the embodiment of sympathy and understanding. We are proud to have them as part of our history and our current team.