Aug. 5—As Frances and Joey Quesenberry think back on their childhoods, they struggle to conjure a single memory that didn't involve the family business.
"I'd be willing to say my sister and I took our very first steps here," Joey said. "It's built in as part of our DNA."
The Beckley-based Rose & Quesenberry Funeral Home was built into the DNA of their father David Quesenberry, as well. In 1977, he joined the business run by his father Amos since 1950.
"Dad was here for 40 years," Frances said of David Quesenberry, who worked with both his father and his brother Michael for many years.
And with Michael's death in late 2021 and with their father "semi-retired" in Florida, the sisters said it only made sense that they would step in, creating the third generation at the helm.
Since October, the sisters have worked side-by-side as funeral directors, learning the ins and outs of the family trade with the long-distance assistance of their father and the local leadership of long-time funeral director Bill Bowles.
The move wasn't one Frances, 41, said she had given much thought to as she graduated from Marshall University and worked in hospital administration. When the idea was officially posed to her, however, she said her path became clear.
"When I spoke with my father about it, I didn't question it," she said. "We have a rich history and to be able to carry on the tradition of our family serving serving the community, I didn't hesitate."
Though it took a little longer than she once thought, Joey said she always knew she'd make the family business her career.
The 39-year-old went straight to mortuary school after high school, but rather than starting her career immediately, she settled down in Louisville where she married and started a family.
With her daughter off at college, however, Joey said she knew the time was right.
"There was no discussion," she said. "I have the background and education and so I came back to complete full circle.
"To create this third generation with my sister was everything I hoped for in life."
----For more than 70 years, generations of Raleigh County families have turned to the funeral home founded by the late Amos Quesenberry.
Her grandfather, Frances said, was a World War II veteran who used his G.I. Bill to attend mortuary school in New York City.
"He worked around the state but decided he wanted to return and serve his community," she said.
So, in 1950, Quesenberry returned to Beckley and purchased the family-owned Rose Funeral Home on Neville Street.
"Pop (Amos) loved the name Rose so he kept it and just attached Quesenberry to it," Frances explained.
Six years later, Amos Quesenberry relocated his business to its current location at 1901 South Kanawha St.
The business, Frances and Joey said, has changed both little and a lot through the years.
When David Quesenberry came on board, he also served as a licensed EMT, operating the funeral home's ambulance service.
Though that end of the business was phased out in the late 1970s and early '80s, Rose & Quesenberry continued to grow with a second location opening in Shady Spring in 1997.
"Dad and Grandpa were so excited to build a funeral home in Shady to serve that community," Frances said, adding she believed the men foresaw the population growth of the area and knew the need would increase. "I think Grandpa knew it was something that was going to happen and (meeting the need) was their goal."
In addition to traditional funeral services, Rose & Quesenberry offers cremation services, pre-planning assistance and a free after-care program.
Joey, who will also serve as an embalmer following the completion of a year's apprenticeship, explains the importance of the pre-planning service.
"An individual might want certain things (for their funeral) and so they are able to personalize their own wishes for how they want people to celebrate their lives when they pass," she said. "You don't have to leave it to a family member."
The service allows a person to select and pay for their caskets, vaults or cremation service.
They can even nominate the name of the person they'd like to officiate their service and list the music they'd like played.
"Pre-planning is very comfortable because you can personalize down to the flowers you want," Joey said.
And just as important as the funeral services themselves, Frances said, are the services available to families after the final goodbyes are said.
Joey notes the free after-care program.
"(Following a death) It's 'What do I do now?'" she said. "For instance, your husband is on your bank account and the title of your home.
"You can come and set up an appointment and we can help guide you."
Frances adds, "We like to say we don't just leave you at the door with the flowers. We continue to help."
The sisters say it's those details that are the most important.
"We care," Frances said. "We're family-owned so if someone has a problem or a question, they call and get one of us. They get an actual Quesenberry."
The family-owned aspect of the business is something they both say they hope continues well into the future.
"We most definitely want to keep it in the family," Frances said. "My grandfather laid a foundation and then my dad, and we want to make sure it continues for years and years to come."
Joey agreed adding, "We just want to continue to be a trusted name in the community. We want people to know they can trust us and we're going to continue to be here for them."
Rose & Quesenberry Funeral Home is a full-service funeral home at 1901 S. Kanawha St., Beckley. To reach them, call 304-253-4461.
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