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.
Belden-Sexton-Sumpter Funeral Chapel
Our firm's history could be considered a composite of the history of funeral service in Leavenworth . Existing records indicate that John O'Donnell added undertaking to his well-established mattress manufacturing and upholstery business about 1862 and there are some indications that there were earlier efforts by the O'Donnell family in the manufacture of 'hand finished coffins'. The first location of the firm was in a new block of buildings just 100 yards north of the (former) Belden location.
The O'Donnell firm was sold to the Sumpter family in 1929 and was operated by Arnold and Marie Sumpter, joined by their son Richard in 1939. Richard succeeded his father upon Mr. Sumpter's death in 1942 and operated a partnership with his mother until his death in 1964. Richard's wife, Alice Britton Sumpter and his mother, Marie Becker Sumpter operated the firm until Alice's death in 1969 when her interest in the firm was sold to Dan Belden, Jr. Belden acquired the second half upon the death of Marie Sumpter in 1973.
James Sexton, 6th President of KFDA, in 1902, was the son-in-law of J.B. Davis and continued the Davis firm. Advertising himself as the "successor to J.B. Davis." Later, other members of the Davis family established a second Davis Undertaking Company about 1904, using the Davis name; Sexton had begun using his own name earlier. Sexton's was operational until 1916 under the direction of James W. Sexton and was carried on by his widow until 1926 when the firm closed. His son, Ted L. Sexton, a teenager when his father died, served apprenticeship under his uncle, J.C. Davis and continued in his employment until February 4, 1934 when he opened his own firm in the present location at Fifth and Oak Streets. During the remodeling of our building in 1975, we discovered notes on the wall behind a prep room cabinet, "Sexton Funeral Chapel opened business Feb. 4, 1934; $20,000.00 in debt; received our first call at 4 PM the same day."
Sexton Funeral Chapel was operated by the family following Ted's death in 1958. Ted L. Sexton was a popular political figure in Leavenworth, serving six terms as Mayor; he also was an active inventor and tinkerer, developing a patented body lifter and a cellophane casket cover and manufactured both in the loft above the chapel for a number of years.
After the death of Mrs. Ted Sexton, their son, expressing a desire to keep the firm active and the name in use, sold the business to Dan Belden, Jr. and the firm name was changed to include the new owner's and to keep the two older firms in use. Belden was a graduate ofCreighton University, Omaha and Indiana College of Mortuary Science and served as the 83rd President of the KFDA and also twice appointed to the State Board of Embalming.
On display at the Ft. Leavenworth Museum is a horse-drawn hearse donated by the James Sexton family in 1919.
Larkin - Brown Funeral Home
Charles Leo Larkin opened the Larkin Funeral Home on October 1, 1948 in a building formerly housing the Bush & Sons Mortuary which had been closed for several years. Mr. Charles Nuhn operated a funeral home in the building for a short time after the Bush Funeral Home closed. Mr. Larkin bought the building about 1945 and rented it to the English Government to house military officers from England. D. Judson Brown came to work at the funeral home in August of 1965 and purchased the funeral home in 1974. Mr. Larkin remained active in the funeral home until his death on January 13, 1982. Mrs. Charlotte Titel came to work for Mr. Larkin when he opened the funeral home and worked there for 34 years, as a receptionist and organist and hairdresser. The name of the funeral home was changed to Larkin-Brown Funeral Home in 1977. In 2007, both firms were consolidated into one single location. The names were merged into Belden-Larkin Funeral Home, and is located in this particular building at 6th and Olive Streets.
Our Valued Staff
Mike and Jami Piper, Owners
Mike & Jami have owned Piper Funeral Home in St. Marys since 1994. They became the owners of Belden-Larkin Funeral Home in December of 2014. The Pipers and the staff at Belden-Larkin continue to this day giving the service and care that the community has come to know for over 100 years. "Our family serving your family in your time of need."
Vince Kavanaugh, Funeral Director
A licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. He graduated from Mortuary College in Kansas City, Kansas. Prior to joining Belden Larkin Funeral Home, he served in the communities of Sioux City, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; and Wichita, Kansas.
He currently holds licensure in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas, and is a National Board Certified Funeral Director and Embalmer. He is a member of the American Society of Embalmers.
Ray L. Rodriguez, Assistant Funeral Director/Ambassador
Born and raised in Leavenworth and has been with the firm for over 11 years assisting with visitations, funerals and whatever else is asked of him. Ray has retired from the State of Kansas for 9 years as a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Child Support Enforcement Legal Division, retiring in 2013. He is a member of the St. Joseph / Immaculate Conception Parish, Knights of Columbus (3rd degree) and the Men's Auxiliary to the VFW. He currently sets on the Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau, and currently on the child support state board. He has been married to Connie (Shipman) Rodriguez, who is the manager of the local Discount Carpets store, for 32 years and they have 5 children and 9 grandchildren. Ray enjoys assisting the families we serve and knows what it takes to be a caring and understanding person at a time when families need compassionate service.
Ray is Registered Kansas Assistant Funeral Director.
Kathleen Gilbert, Assistant Funeral Director
Kathleen graduated from Lansing High School. Kathleen graduated from the KCKCC Mortuary Science Program in 2016, and will be fully licensed in July of 2017.
Morgan Prager, Funeral Assistant
Morgan is a native of Pittsburg, Kansas and has been employed at the funeral home for the past two years.
Frank Geib, Assistant Funeral Director/Ambassador
a native of Leavenworth. He served in the US Army during the Korean Conflict. Upon returning to Leavenworth he began a career with the Government retiring from the US Army Combined Arms and the Combat Development at Ft. Leavenworth, KS as a Mangagment Analyst in January 1988. Three months later he began a new and different career as a member of the Entertainment staff with the Royal Viking Cruise Line for six years. In May of 1994 he began working at the Barnett-Larkin-Brown Funeral Home, now Belden-Larkin Funeral Home, in both capacities as a part-time and full-time employee. Frank has been affiliated with the funeral home since 1994. Frank has worked in a variety of different positions, from Administrative Specialist, After-Care Coordinator, Family Services Coordinator, Assistant Funeral Director and as a Pre-Arrangement Counselor. Frank is married to Gini and they have 2 grown children.
Frank is a registered Kansas Assistant Funeral Director.
Gini Geib, Ambassador
Gini retired from the Department of the Army at Fort Leavenworth, KS as a Management Analyst with 24 years of federal civil service experience. Following retirement she and her husband, Frank, served as hosts for Golden Bear Travel representing their agency aboard cruise ships. She also has experience in the legal services arena as a secretary. She is a caring person and finds helping people in time of need very rewarding. She has been associated in the funeral industry for 10 years.
Gary Mattingly, Ambassador (RETIRED)
a longtime native of Leavenworth.He graduated from Lakewood High School in Hebron, OH. He served in the US Army from 1963-1967. Gary worked at the Newark Air Force Station from 1967-1974 in Newark, OH. He retired from the Fort Leavenworth Fire Department as the Assistant Fire Chief in 1994 after 20 years of service. After retirement and pestering his wife, Angela for 3 years, she put him back to work at the Oaks Golf Course where he worked as head grounds keeper for 10 years. He as an active and longtime member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Leavenworth and is a 3rd and 4th degree Knight of Columbus. He married Angela M. (Hund) on November 5, 1966. They have 3 children, Gary, Michael and Barbara and 5 grandchildren.