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By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Every Easter for the past few decades, drivers passing by Price Funeral Chapel in Citrus Heights were accustomed to seeing a large cross display with blooming white lilies set up facing traffic on Sunrise Boulevard.
Although the display hasn’t appeared in recent years, Price Funeral Chapel has remained at the site at 6335 Sunrise Blvd. for nearly 60 years — making it among the oldest, still-open businesses in Citrus Heights.
Citrus Heights looked much different in 1961, remembers Ben Price. His parents Del and Fay Price originally moved to the not-yet-incorporated community of Citrus Heights from Southern California to open what would become Price Funeral Chapel.
“I was just 11 years old when we moved here,” he told The Sentinel in a recent interview.
Ben recalled that the bustling corner of Greenback Lane and Sunrise Boulevard wasn’t the fast-paced intersection it has now become. Citrus Heights was a very different, more rural community.
“Where the restaurants including Texas Roadhouse are now, there was just a residence back then,” Price said. “The Shell gas station was just an old-fashioned service station and not the modern store it is now.”
The area had only one funeral home in the immediate vicinity. George Lambert had founded Lambert Funeral Home in 1936 on Vernon Street in Roseville, which is now used by the Roseville City Council.
Price Funeral Chapel, Inc. was incorporated in 1961 as Price and Shoemaker Northridge Funeral Service, reflecting the neighborhood’s name, which was then known as Northridge.
“My father Del was quite active and enthusiastically involved in the community, including the park district, supporting Little League, the Citrus Heights Rotary Club and his church just to name a few,” said Price. “He genuinely enjoyed helping the community and in building friendships here.”
In its early years, Price Funeral Chapel operated an emergency ambulance service.
“It was typical of the time,” Price said. “We discontinued that when public emergency services became better organized in the county.”
Ben Price took a moment to offer a tour of the chapel and show the bereavement office where family are met. The Price Funeral Chapel offers a full spectrum of funeral services. As public preferences in the 1960s changed, cremation services were added to the services offered by the chapel.
There have been a few physical additions and alterations to the original building which was built in 1961. New office space has been added and an open carport area where its two white funeral coaches are kept has been enclosed from the weather for the convenience of its customers.
The nontraditional funeral coach color was a tradition started by Ben’s father, who “wanted to take a different, and less somber approach than traditional black.” The family has carried on the tradition with each funeral vehicle purchase since.
Renovations to the original Chapel building were completed in 1976 with the enclosure of the Chapel’s portico. Ben and Jody Price lived on the premises up until 1990, raising their children at the location as well.
Some residents of Citrus Heights may remember a Christmas nativity scene which featured live animals and also the tall Easter cross, which appeared annually until recent years.
“We still have a lot of literature from when we first started,” said Mitch Owen, who has been acting as the chapel’s historian. “Some of the language in the business has changed through the years, but the emphasis on how we serve families has remained constant.”
In its early days, the business doors were open until 9 p.m. every night, according to Owen. If someone came in the front door, the Prices’ had a phone line routed directly to their home; so they would hear the bell ring and rush up to the front door of the business to greet their guests.
The Chapel’s arch-beamed natural wood chapel seats 160 people, and separate bereavement office spaces are comfortable and dignified spaces. Complete funeral services can be offered on-site in the chapel or at the family’s church of choice.
The Price Funeral Chapel, which is unaffiliated with any specific cemetery, offers to help make funeral arrangements with any cemetery of their customer’s choice. The Chapel also offers cremation services of all varieties and can arrange services and interments throughout the country.
“We’re 50 miles from the Veteran’s National Cemetery in Dixon, so we’re here to help the families of our veterans of all branches of the military to provide the proper honors and ceremony they wish to have,” said Price. “Those who prefer an alternative to the traditional service will also find all of the possibilities available for their consideration.”
Parents Del and Fay Price took a leave of absence in 1979 to serve a full-time Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints mission in Northern Ireland. Since that time, son Ben and his wife Jody have been responsible for the daily operations. Son Ben and wife Jody Price were raised in the community and attended San Juan and Foothill High Schools respectively.
Ben Price attended American River College and graduated from Brigham Young University and San Francisco College of Mortuary Science with honors. His wife attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University.
Ben and Jody’s daughter, Michele, graduated from Bella Vista High School and attended American River College and has served as the business’ secretary-receptionist. Their son, Jeremy, after completing a Church mission in the Canary Islands, graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, with distinction.
Jeremy and his wife, Angie, now handle day-to-day operations at Price Funeral Chapel, and Jeremy continues to practice law in Roseville.
Price Funeral Chapel, Inc. can be found at 6335 Sunrise Blvd., in Citrus Heights. Additional information can be found online at www.PriceFuneralChapel.com.
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