365 Days of Grief & Healing

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George Zacherl and his wife, the former Magdalena Schmitz, left their native Bavaria in the summer of 1853 and arrived in the port of New York. He spent about four years there as an apprentice in the furniture making trade. In 1857 he made his way to Fond du Lac where he set up a carpentry shop on Doty Street near Follett.

Sometime before 1865 he moved the business to the northeast corner of Johnson and Main Streets. In 1886 he added a sign that read "Undertaker." It was only logical to do so, for furniture makers also made the coffins used in burials. George Zacherl not only made the coffins and delivered them, but he stayed around and directed the funerals.

Before this time, it was customary for the neighbors to wash and dress the body, the cemetery sexton dug the grave, cabinetmakers made the coffin and a livery service delivered it to the family. As time passed, one person undertook all these duties, the Undertaker.

Louis G Zacherl was born in Fond du Lac in 1862. At the age of 15 he joined his father in the furniture trade and concentrated his energies in the undertaking business. In 1882 he graduated from the Oriental School of Embalming in Boston. He then introduced Fond du Lac to many innovations in embalming and funeral equipment. He was the first to embalm in the city and provide motor equipment for funerals.

During the Civil War embalming grew to be the custom in order to ship soldiers who were killed in action back home to their families. Army physicians did this because of their knowledge of the human vascular system. Their experience was then passed on to the undertakers.

George H. Zacherl, Louis' son, continued the tradition of family undertaking. George married Ida Kobs in 1911 and her desire to help others in time of need quite naturally brought her to also become a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Following the death of her husband, Ida took over the management of the firm until her death in 1970.

Louis G Zacherl, the son of George and Ida, received his degree in mortuary science in 1942. However, World War II called him to be a Navy aviator. In 1945 he returned to Fond du Lac from active duty. From 1953 to 1964 he lived with his family in California and returned home once again to take over the family business with his wife Mary. In 1991, the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association awarded Louis a certificate of merit for his fifty years of service as a Funeral Director.

Upon his death in December of 2000, Louis' son, Peter A Zacherl took over the family business. Peter, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, began his work as a Funeral Director in 1985. He continues as the fifth generation from the Zacherl family to serve the Fond du Lac area community.