Our History

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 of Creighton 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 the combined firm is currently located in the at 6th and Olive Street.

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