History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
"As we honor and remember the uniqueness of life, we guide our community through a meaningful experience by adapting to each family's needs."
(Photo: A parade float when Wappner did both furniture making and undertaking)
The origin of Wappner Funeral Directors began in 1872, when Peter J. Faust and Philip Wappner, Sr. formed a partnership in the "Furniture and Undertaking" business located in the Hartman Building. In the early days, the mainstay of the business was the manufacturing of fine furniture. Some area families possess this furniture as family heirlooms. In the furniture business, at that time, it was the custom that the firm also made the caskets and provided extra chairs for families that experienced a death in the family. Most funerals were held in the homes of family. In 1883, the business moved to South Park Street where a new store was built for the furniture and undertaking business. In 1890, the partnership with Peter Faust was dissolved and Philip Wappner, Sr. and his brother, Henry Wappner, continued the business as Wappner Brothers. Being progressive, the firm became one of the charter members of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association in 1879.
Philip's son, Charles Wappner, started working with his father around the turn of the century and enrolled in a class at the Cincinnati School of Embalming taught by Professor Joseph Clark. At the time, this was the first and only school of its kind. Charles rejoined the firm, which became the first funeral home in Mansfield to offer embalming, a practice which became popular following the Civil War.
In 1919, Charles Wappner took over the business from his father and uncle and moved it to the southeast corner of Second Street and Diamond Street. Both Charles and his father died in 1925 and Charles' widow, Irilla Wappner, continued in the business becoming the first female funeral director in the county. Having nine children to raise, as well as a business to run, she was joined by her brother-in-law, Philip Wappner, Jr., and the firm became known as Charles L. Wappner and Brother.
In 1926, to offer an alternative to having funerals in a private residence that often would be too small, the Peter Remy home at 98 South Diamond St. was acquired. It has been enlarged several times throughout the years and the business is still located there today.
In 1950, the two sons of Charles and Irilla, William H. and Richard Wappner, as well as the son of Philip Jr., James Wappner, became partners. Philip died in 1968 and Irilla in 1969 leaving their sons to continue the business. In 1973, Richard's son, Thomas F. Wappner joined the partnership, and his youngest son, William C. Wappner followed in 1975, representing the fourth generation.
(Photo: Two ambulances with a difference of fifty years in style)
In 1974, with a need for expansion, a second location at 100 South Lexington-Springmill Road was opened becoming the first funeral home in Ontario.
The 1980's brought more changes, as the third generation was lost to the firm with James Wappner dying in 1982, Richard in 1986, and William H. in 1987. With the loss of this generation, Thomas and William continued the business under the name of Wappner Funeral Directors. To better serve their families, a crematory facility was opened in 1988 becoming the first and only crematory in Richland County. In 1989, an insurance company was formed to allow the firm to offer insurance plans as well as trusts to families wishing to fund their pre-planned funerals. For over a century and a quarter, embracing four generations, Wappner Funeral Directors possesses a respected heritage. During the early years, the pace of time allowed for the development of values. This, blended with the creativity of today's generation, gives us over 125 years of valued experience, with the maturity and understanding to meet people's needs and feelings.
The Wappner Family along with their staff have worked diligently to keep the funeral profession a service for the living with simplicity and patience. This will continue to be our commitment.
Our Valued Staff
Bill Wappner, Owner
William, “Bill”, attended The Ohio State University and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer since 1975.
He is a respected member of the business community as a Past President of the National Funeral Directors Association; Past President of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association; Past Policy Board Member and past chairman of the Government Regulatory Committee of the National Funeral Directors Association; a board member of the Ohio Crematory Operators Association; board member of Mansfield Memorial Homes; member of the National Selected Morticians; Cremation Association of North America; and the International Federation of Thanatologists Association.
William is also active in the community as a member of the Board of Directors of the North and Central Ohio Volunteers of America, Inc.; Past Master of the Mansfield Lodge #35 F. & A.M.; B.P.O.E. #56; and a member of the Mad River Sportsman Club. He enjoys golf and sporting clays.
Tom Wappner, Owner
Tom attended The Ohio State University and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer since 1973.
He is a member of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, a member of their Mortuary Response Team and also on the Region V DMORT team. He was deployed in 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita to the Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi area.
Tom enjoys hunting, fishing, boating, old cars and golf. Tom is active in the community as a member of B.P.O. Elks #56 serving as a Past Exalted Ruler and past Trustee. He is also a member and Past Master of the Mansfield Lodge #35 F. & A.M.; Baku Grotto, serving as a Past Monarch and Trustee; 32nd Degree, Scottish Rite Valley of Columbus; a member of the Mansfield Chapter No. 28 R.A.M.; Mansfield Council No. 94 R.S.M.; and Mansfield Commandery No. 21 K.T.; Aladdin Shrine; Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels; Sons of Amvets; Mansfield Liederkranz; Moose; VFW; Professional Car Society; Antique Automobile Club of America;and the U.S. Power Squadron.
Jerry Inebnit, General Manager & Funeral Director
Jerry has been in funeral service for 28 years, spending the last three of those here at Wappner Funeral Directors. "Personally it is rewarding being part of a business that provides valuable service to people during one the most difficult times in their lives, when they have lost a loved one in death."
He graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Magna cum Laude, with an A.A.S degree in 1986, and received his Ohio Funeral Directors and Embalmers license one year later, in 1987. Jerry holds two licenses, having received a New York State Funeral Directors and Embalmers License in 1984.
He continues to pursue professional development, receiving 18 hours of continuing education every 2 years in the field of funeral service. Jerry also supports the staff members at Wappner Funeral Directors to continue their own professional growth. "My individual job is especially rewarding because I get to see the development of our staff members as they improve their ability to serve others. I get to learn and share experiences from our staff members. From this, I get the satisfaction of seeing our staff succeed both as individuals and a team working together."
Jerry is an avid golfer and member of Westbrook Country Club in Mansfield.
Dan Distl, Licensed Funeral Director
Daniel J. Distl attended Ashland University and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer since 1966. Dan has been employed with Wappner Funeral Directors since 1983.
He is a past Secretary and Treasurer of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association District 2. Dan's memberships include: Venus Masonic Lodge #152 F & AM; Scottish Rite, Valley of Columbus; Baku Grotto; Elks Lodge # 56; and a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. His wife, Jan, is a retired teacher from Lexington Schools. They have two daughters, Susan and Julie; and three grandchildren, Madeline, John and Jude. Dan's interests include anything old, special interest and antique cars, and refinishing and repairing furniture.
Dann Marble, Licensed Funeral Director
Dann L. Marble attended Ashland College, Bowling Green State University, and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer since 1973, and has been with Wappner Funeral Directors since 1988. "As a funeral director I have adapted to meet the new needs and provide new services to our families, offering counseling on all aspects of grief and loss, but first and foremost offer compassion and understanding. I feel privileged to have served the families of our area, with such a rewarding profession."
Dann served the Ohio Funeral Directors Association as a member of the Professional Education Committee for five years where he was chair for four years, and on the Membership Services Committee for three years.
Dann is married; his wife Connie is a retired teacher with Ashland City Schools. They have two daughters, Michelle and her children, Tess and Myles, all of Ashland; and Mindy of West Palm Beach, FL. He is a member of First Presbyterian Church; Rotary Club of Ashland; Young Men's Business Club; Married Couples Dance Club; Ashland University Alumni Association; Elks Club of Ashland; Mansfield Masonic Lodge #35; and Ashland Masonic Lodge #151 F.& A.M. both a York Rite and Scottish Rite Mason Valley of Canton, Mohican Council #134 Allied Masonic Degrees, Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 20th Masonic District.
Sean Hartwell, Licensed Funeral Director
Sean W. Hartwell attended Eastern Kentucky University and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and has been a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer since 1995. Sean has been employed with Wappner Funeral Directors since 1995. "The funeral profession is very fulfilling in being able to help people through a difficult time, as well as helping them celebrate and remember the life of their loved one."
He is very active in professional organizations, including the OFDA (Ohio Funeral Directors Association), NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association) , and CANA (Cremation Association of North America), with crematory operator certification.
He is a member of the B.P.O. Elks #56, enjoys golfing, and exercising at the YMCA.
Scott Baltzell, Licensed Funeral Director
Scott has been a funeral director here for 13 years. He is a 1994 graduate of Parkway High School, in Rockford, Ohio. He obtained an Associate Degree in Biological Sciences in 1996 from Wright State University, and one year later, graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. "I am very honored to serve the families that choose Wappner Funeral Directors. It makes me feel good that I am able to help families follow on to a path of healing, by creating meaningful ceremonies for their loved ones who have died."
He is married to Carianne Baltzell, and they have two children. They reside in Mansfield. Scott is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, Ohio Funeral Directors Association, Rotary International, Mansfield Elks and the Woodland Club.
His wife and he attend Pavillion Community Church in Lexington, Ohio, and also hold membership in Mansfield First Presbyterian Church.
Randy VanHove, Licensed Funeral Director
Randy attended the Linsly Military Institute, and is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor Degree in Business, with minors in accounting and computer science. He went on to graduate from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. "I take great pride in the work I do, and know that the people I work with feel the same way. To us, it's more than a job when you help a family survive one of the most difficult times of their life. You've got to see it that way and each of us does."
Randy has worked in the funeral industry all of his adult life. In 1988, he became a licensed Embalmer and Funeral Director, while working for his family firm, Van Hove Funeral Home, until merging with Wappner Funeral Directors in 2004.
Randy is married. He and his wife, Tami, have two sons, Joseph and David. They are very active in Ashland Grace Brethren Church and several civic organizations in Ashland, Ohio and professional groups throughout the funeral profession.
James Deal, Maintenance Supervisor
Since 1985, James has added his expertise to enrich the overall experience for our families. “I take a lot of pride in my work. I am thankful to be in a position to where I can try to help families any way I can whether it be working services, or helping keep our funeral homes and cars in the best condition possible. I have met a lot of people throughout the years and I count that as a blessing.”
James graduated from Lucas High School in 1982. He and his wife, Angela, have the joy of sharing their lives with their children: Rachel, Cassandra, Paige and Ethan; as well as their two grandchildren, Keirston and Jordan. Their household also includes Sammy and Murray, their two dogs, and “a couple of barn cats,”. James and his wife attend Cornerstone Free Will Baptist Church, and in his quiet hours he enjoys working on cars, gardening, home remodeling, playing golf, and target shooting.
Rodney Deal, Funeral Home Associate
Rodney has been with Wappner’s since 1992, and feels “honored to help families in their time of need”. He is a graduate of Lucas High School.
Rodney and his wife, Tonia, have two children, Paige and Brady. In his spare time, Rodney enjoys being an Assistant Varsity Softball Coach at Lucas High School. His favorite activities include spending time with his family and friends as well as being at the ball fields.
Beverly Bernotas, Receptionist / Continuing Care Consultant
Beverly is a very important part of our support team here at Wappner Funeral Directors, as she supports both our other staff members, and the families who come to us for assistance. “ I enjoy helping families cope during their time of grieving and helping them with the continuing care and support that we provide.” She’s been in funeral service since 2001, and has helped countless families through challenging times.
She is married to Dr. Raymond Bernotas. They have a daughter, Jessica; a son, Matthew; and two grandchildren. Beverly attended Foursquare Gospel Church for 20 years where she served 3 terms on church council and 1 term as church deaconess.
David Dauterman, Accountant
David has been an important part of Wappner Funeral Directors for the past 10 years. “I follow the Golden Rule, and take the approach of exceeding the expectations of all customers knowing that helping others in each situation, means that everyone is taken care of to the best of my ability.”
He and his wife, Missy, have four children: two sons Taylor and Bailey and two daughters Elizabeth and Laura. David is very active in the community-at-large as well, serving in various capacities in the Mansfield F&AM Lodge # 35, Mansfield RAM Chapter #28 and the Mansfield RSM Council #94. He is also an active member of: Mansfield Commandery #21, Baku Grotto and Scottish Rite, Valley of Toledo. David is a Past State Scribe for the Order of DeMolay, and received their Distinguished Service Award, Chevalier Degree.
Equally active in the Boy Scouts of America, David served as Pack Leader for Pack 121 from 2001-2007, Troop 121 Merit Badge Counselor since 2009 and Troop Committee member, 2007- present. David has also been a Bingo volunteer for St. Peter's School since 2001, and happily serves as a soccer, baseball and basketball coach. The family attends St. Peters Church and Grace Episcopal Church, where David is a past vestry leader and Sunday School reader, as well as chalice bearer and lector.
Jenelle Thoman, Administrative / Accounting Assistant
Having worked at Wappner Funeral Directors since 2004, Jenelle is very skilled at helping families with life insurance claims and related details. “I take great pride in being able to help our families complete and understand the Life Insurance claiming process. I realize this is a troubling time and with my assistance is one less worry, as I am involved from start to finish. I empathize and treat our families as if they were my own family.”
Jenelle graduated from Lexington High School in 1998, and attended the Pioneer Career and Technology Center, focusing on Cosmetology. She currently lives in Lexington with her two daughters, Jennifer and Taylor, and her three “furry children”: Carly, Charlie, Calvin and Anna.
Debbi Watkins, Administrative Assistant
Debbi has been at Wappner Funeral Directors since 2001. She is honored to be trusted with all the information needed to file necessary paperwork, which allows our families to focus on their emotional needs at this time of sorrow and loss. Speaking to her responsibilty of memorial DVD tributes, Debbi states, "I feel privileged to create unique DVD Tribute Videos from photos our families entrust to our care, enabling me to share a glimpse into the life of their loved one."
Debbi is a Shelby High School graduate, and enjoys furthering her education with a variety of professional development seminars. When she is not at the office, she enjoys hiking, crafts, drawing, music of all types, and especially, creating special memories with her family and friends. She has two children, a spoiled dog, and a bossy cat. When she is not attending to their needs, she is an avid reader of all genres, both fiction and non-fiction.
Jamie Britton, Administrative Assistant
Jamie has been a part of the staff here since 2008. “I love three things about this work. I love the fact that I can help others in a time of need, and that every day is different. But what I love most is the fact that working here gives me a whole new outlook on life. I value each day more.”
She graduated from Ashland High School and attended Ashland University for 2 years. Jamie is married with two daughters, Chloe and Elyse, and has enjoyed coaching gymnastics since 1997 at the Ashland YMCA.
Shelly Woode, Administrative Assistant / Funeral Director
Shelly has been a licensed funeral director since 1989, and came to Wappner Funeral Directors in 2004. “I love the feeling of being able to help families that are going through one of the most difficult times of their lives.”
She grew up in the funeral industry and started working for her family’s business before they merged with Wappners. Shelly is a graduate of Mount DeChantal Visitation Academy in Wheeling, WV and also a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture.
She is married to Jim Woode, and they have one son, Michael. The family attends St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Ashland and both Shelly and Jim are very involved in the Ashland area through their son’s many activities with school and sports.
David Hempfield, Funeral Associate
Since joining Wappners in 2008, David describes his experience as, “Rewarding. We are so completely focused on taking care of the families we serve. You won't find many businesses that place so much care and concern toward their customers as you will here. It’s great to be part of such a commitment.”
He is a graduate of Mansfield Senior High, and Bowling Green State University. He is a former Command Post Controller at the 179th Airlift Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, and previously worked for the professional team at Mooney & Moses Insulation Company.
David has two children. His son and grandson live in Richland County, while his daughter and son-In-law live in South Carolina. In his free time, one of David's favorite pastimes is boating on Lake Erie.