Learn our story, from the beginning and into the future.
THE HISTORY OF WEIL KAHN FUNERAL HOME
In the late 1800’s Isaac Weil married Minnie Mook in Cincinnati, Ohio. He then joined her brother Leo Mook in the horse/livery business in downtown Cincinnati. This company known as Mook & Weil bought and sold heavy draught horses to the fire department, ice and coal companies, farmers as well as other companies. The business rented out livery equipment for various private occasions such as weddings and funerals. At that time, most of the Jewish funerals in Cincinnati were handled by the Ferdinand B. Maertz Funeral Company. The more traditional Jewish synagogues handled their own funerals. A few of these synagogues owned their own hearses and they stored them with non-jewish undertakers who would also rent them a team of horses and carriages for funerals.
In the early 1900’s a funeral firm going out of business was selling horses and carriages at auction. Isaac and his nephew Jess Wolf went to the auction to purchase horses and ended up buying their own business. This new firm was incorporated March 6, 1912 as the Weil-Schell Company. Isaac was well known and well respected in the Jewish community of the West end of Cincinnati. He served as the warden of his congregation’s cemetery (UJC-Clifton) and was able to convince other congregations that owned their own hearses to store them with him. He, in turn would help with their funerals by offering them an allowance on the horses and other livery items they needed.
Isaac’s middle son Gordon was a professional baseball player, and when his career ended in 1914 he returned to Cincinnati and began learning the funeral business at Weil-Schell. Gordon became the second generation of the Weil family to work in the funeral industry. Though a tough and competitive business, the funeral home has been successful since its start. In 1916, Isaac died leaving three sons, Sidney, age 24, Gordon, age 22 and Burt, age 19. Gordon had just graduated from Cincinnati Mortuary College and was the only one interested in the funeral business. Sidney was well established in the Cincinnati horse trading business and became the patriarch of the family.
In 1917, both Sidney and Gordon enlisted in the Army, leaving Burt to run the business. Burt worked out a deal with the congregations who stored their hearses at Weil-Schell. Burt would purchase an automobile hearse and promised the congregations that they would have use of it if they would dispose of their old horse drawn hearses. After they reached an agreement the horses and carriages were all sold. Weil-Schell purchased a Pierce Arrow automobile and mounted it with a hearse body. At this point all funerals became “auto funerals”.
When Sidney and Gordon returned home from the service in 1919, Sidney gave up his shares of the business. It was now owned by Gordon and Burt and the name was changed to Weil Brothers Funeral Home.
Gordon married Cecille Stark in 1922. Cecille’s father was a successful doctor and a prominent member of the Jewish community. Cissy was very helpful in building and sustaining the business in those days. Her father’s connections opened up a whole new part of the Jewish community for Weil Bros.
It became apparent in the 1920’s that in order to compete effectively, a funeral home in the suburbs of Avondale would be necessary. A large mansion at 3901 Reading Road in North Avondale was being sold, but a move would be costly. The current location downtown had gasoline pumps and a move would mean the loss of that extra income. Never the less, the property on Reading Road was purchased in 1925 for $28,000.00
Weil Brothers worked for various Jewish congregations, but these congregations were also their competitors. They made their own coffins and sold them to their members, as well as non-members. To compete, Weil Brothers sold better looking pine boxes to families. They also included their services for conducting the funeral and furnished chairs and Shiva candles, delivering them to their home. Gradually the public was educated to use the funeral home for services. Congregations were not permitted to furnish caskets, eliminating the competition. Eventually, Weil Brothers purchased the remaining coffins from the congregations, which ended the congregation’s involvement in the funeral business. At this time, in 1933, Gordon Weil Sr. joined the Jewish Funeral Directors of America in its second year of existence.
Sidney Weil handled all the finances and investments of the entire Weil family. He built up a nice portfolio for himself and his brothers. Together they owned numerous parking lots and garages, the Weil Brothers Funeral Home and the Cincinnati Reds. Sidney was president of the Reds for 6 years. When the stock market crashed in 1929, the family was under tremendous pressure from the banks and they foreclosed on almost all of their assets. The Weil Brothers lost everything except the funeral home.
By 1940, their financial situation had improved dramatically. They handled 283 funerals that year. Although Burt worked at the funeral home full time, he was also an inventor. He developed a chocolate soft drink named “Chocola” that was eventually sold to Pepsi. He also invented the “one man cot”, which is still used today internationally. This product was developed and refined at Weil Funeral Home. A “one man cot” is a collapsible gurney which allows an individual to transfer a person or deceased person in or out of an ambulance or hearse. It became and is still a major product of the Ferno-Washington Company, whose address is 70 Weil Way, Wilmington, Ohio.
Gordon Weil Jr. was born in 1924. He was the only child of Gordon, Sr. & Cecille. In 1946, he returned from WWII and attended the University of Cincinnati. After marrying Rita Auer in 1947, he spent one year at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, earning both his Funeral Directors and Embalmers licenses. In 1951 Gordon, Jr. began working full time at the funeral home. He also became a member of the Jewish Funeral Directors of America, serving as its treasurer for seven years, becoming an Honorary President in 1980. Gordon Jr. (Buddy) worked at Weil Funeral Home until his retirement in 1984. Gordon Jr. (Buddy) Weil died in 2014.
Along the way, various other family members worked at the funeral home. James Auer (Rita’s father) worked as a director and even Rita earned her Funeral Director’s License, though she never practiced. Orren Hoffman (Sidney’s son-in-law) also worked for many years as a director. When Orren passed away suddenly in 1976 at the age of 54, Buddy worked without another funeral director on staff for over 3 months, until Sylvan Kahn was hired. Sylvan and Buddy knew each other through mutual friends. Sylvan was in the restaurant business for many years, owning the historic Chili Bowl in Elmwood Place. The restaurant was closed in 1975 and at the age of 56, Sylvan was hired to become a funeral director at the Weil Funeral Home. Sylvan learned the business very quickly and was able to alternate weeks on duty with Buddy. That year Weil Funeral Home conducted 320 funerals.
Gordon Jr. and Rita had three sons Gordon III, James and Robert. Gordon III became a PhD and a tenured professor of Economics at a small New England college. He then moved on to become the Provost of Moravian College. He retired in 2015 and passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 2016. James graduated from Ohio University in 1972 with a degree in Education. He was interested in going into the funeral business and planned on joining the Weil Funeral Home. He married in 1973, but was killed in a car accident that same year. Robert graduated from University of Colorado in 1976 with a degree in Psychology. He married Cher Coughenour in 1977 and moved back to Cincinnati. Bob attended the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and graduated in 1979, 2nd in his class earning the Dr. George M. Sleichter Award. Bob became the fourth generation to work at and own the Weil Funeral Home. Bob also joined the Jewish Funeral Directors of America where he served as Treasurer, Membership chairman Vice-President, and then President from 1993-1995. Bob has three sons, Jon, Brandon and Kevin. All three are pursuing careers outside of the funeral industry.
When Sylvan Kahn turned 70 in 1990, he was contemplating retirement. He had worked at the funeral home for 15 years. Sylvan and his wife Judy had two sons. Their oldest son Michael went to Ohio State University and was a sports reporter, pioneering sports on the internet, as the Executive Editor of CBS Sportsline, living in Tacoma, WA. He passed away in 2008 of Cancer at the age of 54. His younger brother, William graduated from Ohio State University in 1979 with a degree in Marketing and Industrial Design and was working for his wife (Nancy Gildenblatt Kahn’s) father-in-law, Jule Gildenblatt, as Operations Manager for Ball Furniture. Bill decided to join Weil Funeral Home in 1989, becoming the second generation in his family to work at the funeral home. He served a two year apprenticeship and became licensed in 1991. Bill also earned his Ohio Insurance License, as well as becoming a Notary Public. Sylvan passed away after a short illness in 1998 at the age of 78. Bill has three daughters, Ilycia, Lauren and Allison. Ilycia and Allison are pursuing careers outside of the funeral industry. Lauren graduated from Ohio University in 2010. She apprenticed for two years at Weil Funeral Home and earned her Funeral Directors license in 2016. She moved to Dallas, Texas and worked for 6 months at Dallas Jewish Funerals, before taking a job at Temple Emanu-El, also in Dallas.
As his ancestors did 72 years earlier, Bob felt it was necessary to move the business to the Northern suburbs. This move would locate the funeral home closer to the Jewish community, Synagogues, Hospitals and Jewish Nursing Home. It took a year and a half to find the property and go through the necessary zoning changes. Bob was at a groundbreaking of Congregation Ohav Shalom, where he met the architect, Jay Brown of Levin & Brown in Owings Mills, MD. They hit it off, as if they had been friends their entire lives. Bob liked the work Jay had done at the synagogue. By the beginning of 2000, they were ready to start construction on the new state of the art building. The new facility would be over 18,600 square feet, over 3 times the size of the North Avondale location. Weil Funeral Home moved into their new building in April 2001. The new facility could seat up to 350 people at capacity with all rooms open, or seat 140 with only the main chapel is open. Everything was improved, a beautiful chapel, larger parking lot, handicap accessability, preparation room, Taharah room, casket showroom, library, clergy office and even a separate Kohain building. Today Weil Funeral Home is located at 8350 Cornell Road in Symmes Township, Ohio.
In 2003 Weil Funeral Home, activated their new website: Weilfuneralhome.com. This website is very user-friendly with an incredible amount of pertinent information. One of the best and most visited features is their continually updated Obituary section. This is another example of how the funeral home was looking towards the future and expanding their services to the community.
In 2016, as Bob began contemplating retirement, a Cincinnati native Ben Lefton was hired as an Apprentice Funeral Director. Ben graduated from Ohio State University in 1995 with a degree in Human Ecology. Ben went to work in his family business, Provident Camera in downtown Cincinnati. He worked there until 2007, when the business closed. Ben finished his apprenticeship and became a full-time funeral director at Weil in July, 2018.
Now, having 2 licensed funeral directors on staff, Bob began working part-time. With no heir interested in taking over the family business, Bob also started to consider selling the funeral home. Bill Kahn was the obvious choice to purchase the business. Bob was so thankful that Bill was interested. It took over 1 year to work out all the details but on Wednesday July 1, 2019 the closing took place. Bob feels this will be a seamless transition, with no change in the first class service our community has grown to expect. On September 3, 2019, Bill hired Becci Jahn, who graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, to start a Funeral Director’s Apprenticeship. In 2021, the Weil Kahn Funeral Home will have another Funeral Director on staff. So closes a 112 year history of the Weil Funeral Home and a new era begins for the Weil-Kahn Funeral Home.
In a nutshell? Experience, professionalism, compassion, and empathy.
We've learned a lot over many years. Like how to present options without overwhelming. And how to meet the needs of many caring parties. People come to us in difficult times, and we respond kindness, calmness and expertise. Our goal is to create a beautiful occasion and make you feel welcome, always. We spend our days planning with families. We stay up to date with industry developments. And we make hard times a little easier.
Learn the legacy.
For over four generations Weil Funeral Home has been dedicated to providing efficient and compassionate service at a time of great distress and anxiety. The result of more than 100 years of practice in Cincinnati has given us the personal experience to serve our community in a caring and professional manner. Attention to all details is our proud hallmark.
Who We Are
Meet our staff. Members of the local community make everything that happens possible.
Together, we make this place amazing.
William L. Kahn
Licensed Funeral Director/Owner
Licesnsed Funeral Director/ Licensed Embalmer
Apprentice Funeral Director
Office Manager / AccountingRead Bio
A native of Wilmington, Ohio, Sherry has lived in the greater Cincinnati area since 2014. She has over twenty-five years of experience in the accounting and administrative fields prior to joining the Weil Kahn family in 2018. Known for her warmth and compassion, Sherry epitomizes the professionalism and trust that evokes the spirit of the company.