In 1917, Harry Hope and wife Lenna moved to Gallatin and acquired an interest in the L.T. Killam & Co. Undertaking business and changed the name to the Gallatin Undertaking Company (G.U.C.). The Hope Funeral Home was born.
At first it was a two-fold business with half being a furniture store and the other half being an undertaking business.
In 1918, the business announced they would liquidate their furniture business and devote their time to the undertaking business. At this time, they were still advertising broadcloth, best grade steel caskets, steel vaults, marble tombs, and high-grade burial garments.
The announcement also stated that there wouldn’t be any charge for embalming or for any kind of hearse — motor vehicle or horse drawn — or car for the family.
Lenna Hope, also an undertaker, became the first lady embalmer in Daviess County and one of the few in Northwest Missouri. Mrs. Hope devoted most of her work to taking care of the women and the children while Harry would cater more to the men. In one of their sale promotions they advertised five points:
2. Low prices on the best funeral supplies
3. The best equipment money could buy
4. Arrangements taken care of
5. Years of experience in the undertaking business.
In 1925, the furniture store was no small business and advertised everything from large pieces of furniture to baby buggies.
Stub Richesson joined the firm. At first his duties were mainly in the furniture store, but he soon graduated to the funeral business.
The furniture store had a seven day sale and all merchandise was sold below cost as they didn’t want to move it or store it. They gave people a chance to move it for themselves and at a large savings. Two advertised items were $350 Baldwin piano for $200 and a $550 Baldwin player piano for $350.
The Hopes always tried to stick to their motto “A square deal for everyone is the basis of everything we make.” They moved to a new location on the south side of the square, truly making it “a square deal.”
Harry Hope died in 1941, and Stub acquired one-half interest in the funeral home. Mrs. Hope received her 50-year pin from the Missouri Funeral directors Association in 1967. In 1969, Steve and Jan Helton returned to Gallatin after Steve completed his mortuary science education and got his embalmers license. Steve and Jan purchased the funeral home in 1982, making it the third generation of Hope’s services.
— researched by Wilbur Bush of Gallatin, MO