The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Deb Olson, The Quill
Banks and Beals Funeral Home
504 East Main Street in La Harpe
"Our family serving your family since 1927"
In 2017 this La Harpe business will celebrate its 90th year of serving the area.
John Banks was born in Blandinsville in 1900. In 1927, he came to La Harpe and opened his first funeral home on Main Street.
In 1928, he married Neva Moon of Tennessee, IL.
The Banks Funeral Home operated out of several different sites until locating permanently in its current home at 504 East Main in the mid 1940's.
In the early years, funeral services were somewhat different then they are today. Oftentimes the funeral director/mortician took care of the preparation of the deceased for burial right in the home.
Visitations were often held in the home with funeral services conducted at a church.
In addition to mortuary services, the business operated an ambulance service for 53 years. This service was discontinued in 1970, when the local hospital increasingly provided ambulance service.
Meanwhile, circa 1948, a young man from Sullivan Illinois, Dean Beals, who had served in the US Navy in World War 2, and had recently graduated from the St. Louis College of Mortuary Science, found work in this area. He was first associated with the Martin Funeral Home in Dallas City, but also assisted at Mellor's in Stronghurst and Banks Funeral Home in La Harpe.
While working with the Banks Funeral Home assisting John Banks, Dean met John and Neva Banks daughter Patsy who had been helping her parents in the funeral home.
In 1950 Dean Beals and Patsy Banks were married and Dean began working full time with his father-in-law. Shortly after this the business name was changed to Banks and Beals Funeral Home
John Banks died in 1962.
In the 1970's, Dean and Patsy's sons Kevin and Kris attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to study Mortuary Science graduating in 1977 and 1978 respectively. In 1978 the business expanded by purchasing the Fiedler Funeral Homes in Dallas City and Stronghurst.
After Dean Beals passed away in 1986, his sons Kevin and Kris carried on the family tradition.
In 2000, Banks and Beals moved their Dallas City facility from its old location into a new building where the Riverview Supper Club once stood.
Funeral services are different today than when John Banks began the business in 1927. Preparation of the deceased for burial now takes place at the funeral home.
Visitations, once held in the family home are now generally scheduled at the funeral home, and the funeral home has generally become the place where the funeral service is held.
Continuing the family tradition, Kevin and Sherry Beals' sons, Mitch and Mason joined the family business after graduation from the Mortuary Science program at Galesburg's Carl Sandberg College. They are the fourth generation of funeral directors in the family.
Banks and Beals today offers a full range of funeral services from traditional burial to cremation. Their caring staff helps families deal with the issues of death, grief and healing.
The staff at Banks and Beals Funeral Home are members of the National Funeral Directors Association, the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, and the Federated Funeral Directors of American.
For further information or to inquire about services visit the business' website at: banksandbeals.com