A Proud History of Service
In 1897, our funeral home began serving the community as Biggs & Stoeckel Funeral Home on the corner of South Barstow and Main Streets. As the years passed, the name changed to Ray Biggs and Company, and after a fire destroyed the original building, the funeral home was relocated to East Broadway. Upon Mr. Bigg's death in 1925, Erling Larsen was hired as a funeral director. Five years later, Erling and his wife Olive purchased the business from Mrs. Biggs and relocated the funeral home to 419 East Broadway.
In 1962 local funeral director James Hamacher opened a funeral home at 237 N. Moreland Boulevard where he continued in business until 1968 when his funeral home was acquired by Grant Zinnecker and John Cesarz. The two purchased the Erling Larsen Funeral Home in 1975, operating out of both the Moreland Boulevard and East Broadway locations.
In 1982 Mary Lou Charapata joined Cesarz and Zinnecker. Following Grant Zinnecker's retirement, Mary Lou became a partner in the business in 1993. At that time, the firm's name changed to Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home.
In retirement, Grant and his wife Donna enjoy the lifestyle of full-time RVers. They also volunteer and responded to a request from NFDA to assist local funeral directors on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
In 2000, the Broadway location was sold in order to consolidate staff and services and be more conveniently located. Various renovations — including improved parking and a remodeled interior — to the Moreland Blvd. location ensured that the community can be served for years to come.
In 2002 John Cesaz retired and Mary Lou Charapata purchased the remainder of the business to become the sole owner of Cesarz, Charapata and Zinnecker Funeral Home. John Cesarz continues to reside in the Waukesha area and is active in a variety of organizations. Mary Lou continued the tradition of being a locally owned full service funeral home, Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home has been a trusted friend that Waukesha area families have turned to for caring, dedicated service at affordable prices.
In February of 2015 Mary Lou was pleased to introduce to the Waukesha community Ryan Nowatka, his wife Angelia and sons, Alex 8, Ethan and Evan both 7. She also proudly announced that she had entered into an Agreement to transfer ownership of Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker to Nowatka. With this succession plan in place, Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker is positioned to ensure that the long tradition of family service will continue far into the future. Ryan Nowatka will continue the tradition of being a locally owned family funeral home. Ryan immediately announced that Mary Lou is staying on as Managing Director and will continue, just as she has for the last 33 years, to serve the families and the Waukesha area community. In fact, this will allow Mary Lou more time to work directly with the families and to pursue her community-based interests. Mary Lou’s sister, Joanne Abbs, will continue, as she has for the last 13 years, as the Director of Advance Planning. In addition, all of the funeral directors, office staff and associates remain an integral part of the Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker team.