Family Service

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Photo by Bari Baskin // Time Stops Photography

Naperville resident Raymond Jones knew in grade school that he wanted to be a funeral director. “It’s in my blood and in my heart,” he says. “It’s a calling.”

That dedication has helped Jones weave Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home and Cremation Services into the fabric of Naperville, taking care of families during their most difficult times. Originally opened less than 45 years after Naperville itself was incorporated, Friedrich-Jones is celebrating 100 years in the community this year—and Ray has been a staple there for more than half of those years.

After getting his start in the industry at the funeral home in Joliet where he grew up, Ray came to Naperville in 1968 to work with then-owner Charles Friedrich. Following Friedrich’s death in 1976, Ray took over the company.

Over the years, Ray brought two of his three children into the business. In 1996, Dave Jones and Stephanie Jones-Kastelic became co-owners, with Dave heading up operations, which include planning services with families, scheduling the staff, and ordering merchandise and supplies. Stephanie, a certified public accountant, handles prearrangements, accounting, marketing, decorating, and human resources.

The family also has a full-time staff of six funeral directors, an administrative assistant, and seven part-time funeral assistants. The business expanded its current location at 44 South Mill Street in the early 1980s, and added a second location—Friedrich and Overman Funeral Home—in Plainfield in 1981.

And while some may think of the funeral industry as macabre, the Jones family disagrees.

“I always jokingly say that I’m more afraid of the living than the dead,” Dave says. “This business is about helping the living, and respectfully taking care of the dead.”

The industry has changed quite a bit since the days when Ray would take obituary notices to the corner pharmacy and post them on the mirror there. Today, online obituaries and funerals have become more personalized, incorporating photos, videos, and music into the services.

“To keep up with the changes in the industry, funeral directors have become more flexible, so they can better provide the services desired by each family,” says Ray. He tries to really listen to clients to facilitate and arrange a service that reflects each family and their loved one.

Dave agrees. “The best part of my job is when a family tells me I made [the process] painless. Despite the circumstances, the goal is seamless execution for the grieving family members.

Consistent availability is part of this dedication to the families they serve, and is a top priority for all three of the Joneses. They personally answer the business lines after hours and don’t use an answering service. That attention is what drew Naperville resident Jean Kahling there.

“Dave got back to me right away and made the process as easy and comfortable as one could,” says Kahling, whose mother, Mary Ellen Rynearson, passed away in early August. “He guided our family in such a compassionate way and was so attentive. It felt like we had the wake in someone’s home.”

Stephanie admits there have been times when she needed to walk away to keep her composure because it’s difficult to witness people in pain, but she focuses on serving the living to ease some of the stress of the job.

“I don’t think you ever fully turn off the funeral director persona. It’s part of who we are,” she says. “Conversely, when I’m with my family and friends, it’s an opportunity to laugh and enjoy life.”

For more information on pre-planning, funeral and cremation services, or grief support, visit