By Bob Uphues
After a continuous run of almost 70 years, the owner of Johnson Funeral Home in Brookfield doesn't answer by the Johnson surname.
On Nov. 15, Kuratko-Nosek Funeral Home purchased the business and property at the corner of Prairie and Southview avenues from longtime owner John Johnson, who has retired.
Frank Nosek, whose family will continue to operate Kuratko-Nosek Funeral Home in North Riverside as well as Johnson Funeral Home, said he and Johnson had been finalizing details of the transfer for the past year and a half.
"I live just down the street," said Nosek, who moved to Brookfield 15 years ago and is a parishioner at St. Barbara Church, just down the block from Johnson Funeral Home. "John and I had been friends through business, and I expressed interest a couple of years ago. I told him that when he was ready to retire, I'd be interested in it."
Nosek said that for the time being he's not changing the name of the funeral home, unlike his decision to change the name of Kuratko Funeral Home, when he bought that location in 2006.
At that time, Nosek said, he wanted people to know that the funeral home was once again family-owned. It had been sold previously to a large funeral home corporation. Johnson Funeral Home has always been family-run, and that's not changing, Nosek said.
Johnson Funeral Home has stood at 3847 Prairie Ave. since the mid-1950s, but the business goes back to 1949, when Raymond W. Johnson bought Runkel Funeral Home, which was located at 3742 Grand Blvd. (now home, somehow fitting, to florist Christopher Mark).
According to information supplied by Nosek, the Johnson family built the present funeral home and opened it for business in 1956. A year later Raymond Johnson's wife, Anna May, graduated from Worsham Mortuary College and became a certified funeral director, too.
The couple had four children, three girls and a son, John, who joined the business in the 1970s and later took over operations.
Johnson's final funeral direction was for Blanche Kucera, said Nosek. She and her husband, Louis, both officials at Brookfield Federal Savings and Loan, "gave John's parents the original loan to start the business," Nosek said.
Attempts to reach John Johnson by phone were unsuccessful.
Nosek started in the funeral business in 1987, when he joined his grandfather and father at their Berwyn-based funeral home. In 2006, he bought Kuratko Funeral Home in Berwyn and eventually closed the Berwyn location.
In 2014, Nosek's daughter, Nina earned her funeral director's license, ushering in a sixth-generation of Noseks to the profession. Nosek's wife, Deborah, is the office manager.
Nosek said he's planning on an extensive interior remodeling of Johnson Funeral Home next spring, expanding the lounge area for family members attending wakes and memorial services and adding video screens to allow picture slide shows and video tributes.