The funeral home's beginnings were quite common for the time. John M. Brazzell and his wife Janet and son, Terry came to Avilla, in 1955. After they both graduated from Indiana College of Mortuary Science, John and Janet were board certified Licensed Embalmers and Funeral Directors. They went to work for L.E. Berhalter Funeral Homes in Kendallville, Avilla, and Rome City. John was the manager of the Avilla Funeral Home. The Brazzell family stayed in Avilla until 1963 when they moved to Albion where John went to work for the Bonham and Miser Funeral Home. He became a partner in 1964, and was able to purchase a part of Mr. Bonham's ownership. He then purchased the remainder of the funeral home in 1970.
Terry started helping his parents at the funeral home in 1965, and served his apprenticeship in 1969. At that time, the funeral home was responsbile for the ambulance service and he went on many ambulance calls with his dad. He moved to Indianapolis to pursue his degree and graduated from the Indiana College of Mortuary Science in 1971.
Terry married Jeanie Burtch in September 1972 and they moved to Plymouth, where Terry worked at the Johnson Funeral Home from 1972 to the Spring of 1977. Terry and his family moved back home manage the Avilla funeral home, which he later purchased.
In 1992, Terry and Jeanie purchased the Albion funeral home from John and Janet due to Janet's fight with breast cancer. Janet died on March 16, 1996. John M. also fully retired and moved to Auburn that same year.
Terry died in May of 2010, and his wife Jeanie continued the operations of the funeral home. In August of 2015, Jeanie sold the funeral homes to Josh Harper. Josh changed the name after the completion of the sale to its current name of Harper Funeral Homes. Jeanie is currently semi-retired and spending time with her grandchildren. You will see her from time to time at the funeral home during visitation or service still helping out.
Josh is excited to be able to usher in a new era for the funeral homes. His focus is providing services that reflect a families wishes.