Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
(Video by Jackie Hart)
By Kristyna Kresic
Frank Bauer loved his wife and in 1975 he gave her a very unusual gift.
When Carole Bauer came home from a Christmas party, her husband had a surprise for her.
Walking in the door, Frank was excited to tell his wife the good news.
“Carole I just bought you a Christmas present,” he said.
Walking down the stairs, Carole was also excited to see what it was.
“What is that?” Carole questioned
“I bought you a funeral home,” he said.
“We bought and closed this funeral home the 23rd of December in 1957,” Carole said. “My husband used to do things like that.”
To be in this business, usually one has to be caring and considerate when dealing with grieving families.
The Bauer family makes sure their work is always exceptional.
“My husband’s family was very good at it, my husband was very good at it, very very good,” Bauer said. “Not consoling people, but helping people through this horrific thing they have to go through. The people I have working for me are the same way. They don’t take it lightly, but they’re not the average morose funeral director; they’re just, people.”
When Carole’s husband died in 1991, he left the funeral business for her to manage. Now, she runs the Bauer Funeral Homes in both Effingham and Teutopolis. Carole works behind the scenes; working on flowers and also said it is a very difficult job.
“In a small town, it is a business, but you deal with your friends and that’s very difficult and very, very, very emotional: very difficult. It’s not a 9 a.m.-5 p.m. job, it’s a 24-hour job, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said Bauer.
As for the future of the funeral home, Bauer thinks it is very bright.
“This funeral home will go on as long as I’m around. When I’m gone, I hope it will continue to serve the community as it has for, well, since the 1900s,” she said.