Unlike most couples seeking just the right home, Jon and Robin Schmidt didn’t have to spend hours looking at houses and comparing features. Their home is tucked inside the walls of their business, Schmidt Family Funeral Home at 18th and Washington Streets.
Robin Schmidt grew up in Afton and Jon in West Bend, so they wanted to own a business in Iowa. When Duley Funeral Home became available for purchase in 1994 with living quarters included, it was perfect for the Schmidts. Their children were small, and Jon could be home even while he was at work.
“We remodeled the whole house,” Robin says. Living quarters for an ambulance crew became a master bedroom suite. The three-bedroom, two-bath home is invisible to the public within the walls of the funeral home.
In 1997 the Schmidts built a two-story addition on the back of the original structure. It houses a family room, a craft room and an enclosed patio with a koi pond and waterfall.
“We have a bit of a yard,” says Robin, but the three Schmidt children always preferred the parking lot. “They could ride their bikes, run races, shoot hoops. They loved it,” she says. A portable basketball hoop is always visible at the east end of the funeral home parking lot.
Though the funeral home is separate from the house, it was still part of family living for the Schmidts. Robin says the kids liked to go to the funeral home and play with the microphone. And when the weather was bad, Easter egg hunts were moved inside.
The Schmidt children are no longer small. Daughter Blair and her husband, Kyle Kauzlarich, live in Omaha, Neb. Avery is attending college in Omaha, and Graydon is a junior at Centerville High School.
Being so close to his business is convenient for Jon when the frequent late-night calls come in. And with Robin working long hours at Tangleberries, the coffee and gift shop she owns and operates on the Centerville square, Jon has become the family cook.
“Even now Jon tends to cook more because he’s home,” says Robin. “He can start a meal, and he likes to cook.” He even markets his own barbecue sauce and rub, Gee-Daddy’s Barbeque.
While others are commuting miles and miles, Jon Schmidt just opens a door and he’s home from work.
“It’s very nice and cozy there,” he says.