The funeral homes of Cassopolis and Three Oaks are once again under the ownership of one family, just as they had started out. When they began the funeral homes were run by two members of the Connelly family. William owned and operated the funeral home in Cassopolis and his brother, Howard, owned and operated the funeral home in Three Oaks.
William H. Connelly was born in 1885 on the family farm on Union Road in Calvin Township, the second of four children born to Thomas Jefferson Connelly and Carrie Euans Connelly. With no more than an 8th grade education, William, known as "Billy," moved to Cassopolis and began working with a business man from Chicago, Illinois, named Oscar Northrop, in Northrop Livery and Undertaking.
In 1910 Billy purchased the business from Mr. Northrop. J.J. Fisher also had a furniture and undertaking business in Cassopolis as well. There were no actual funeral homes at that time. Funerals and visitations were held in churches or at the family home. Embalming was most often performed in the home as well, usually in the bed of the deceased. In many small towns, the funeral director also owned a furniture store, since wooden caskets almost qualify as furniture.
The William H. Connelly Furniture store was located on South Broadway Street, across the alley from Hayden Hardware. The hardware store is still operating today, although the building housing the furniture store and the several buildings behind it used for storage have all since been demolished for use as parking lots. The furniture store closed in the 1960's.
In 1930 Billy purchased a home form Dr. Tompkins at 202 North Broadway Street that became the first actual funeral home in Cassopolis that continues to this day as the only funeral home in the center of Cass County. In the early thirties a large porch was added to the south side that is still used as a conference room today. In 1948, with the development of the Ambulance service a large, five bay garage was added to the rear of the building. The upstairs of the addition housed the casket selection room, a feature that was becoming increasingly popular in "modern" funeral homes.
After serving in World War II, Thomas L. Connelly, joined the firm in 1947 and worked until his death at age 69 in 1990. William died in 1965 at age 80. Tommy added the chapel to the north side of the building in 1967. Thomas' son, Gregory T. Connelly, began working at he funeral home when he was just big enough to put away chairs after funerals. He fondly recalls being thrilled to be paid a quarter by his grandfather for completing that job.
After graduating from Wayne State School of Mortuary Science in Detroit, Greg joined the firm as a licensed funeral director in 1975 and continued the family tradition until his retirement in 2010, 100 years after William Connelly's founding of the firm. William's younger brother, Howard Connelly, moved to Three Oaks, Michigan and purchased the Holden residence at 106 Ash Street East, and began another Connelly Funeral Home. He eventually sold the firm to Vern Noble, who, upon his retirement, sold the company to Chris and Linda Pobocik.
Eugene and Lois Wagner, both natives of Detroit, Michigan, purchased the Cassopolis funeral home in 2010 and continue to live in the building. In 2015, they were able to also acquire the Three Oaks location, once again placing both funeral homes back under the same family ownership, just as they had been originally.