A Little History
Our firm traces its origin to a young Hancock County farm boy, Willis G. “Billy” Coldren (1880-1947) who was born and raised on the limestone ridge near Vanlue. Billy had an extraordinarily kind and helpful personality that seemed to attract people to him. He was sought out by John McGuire, an undertaker in Carey, Ohio who felt that he had the qualities that would be helpful with his practice. Mr. McGuire set in motion a career that would ultimately lead Billy to be acclaimed as one of the leading funeral service practitioners in Northwest Ohio. Mr. Coldren began with Mr. McGuire in 1905 and was recruited by Walter S. Clark to manage his firm in Findlay and make the move to Findlay in 1913 manage the Clark firm until Mr. Clark’s death in 1925. With some 20 years of experience in funeral service, he was encouraged and supported by many to start his own practice. He rented a store front on West Main Cross St. and with a partner started the Coldren and Coleman Funeral Home in 1925. Most wakes and funerals were held in private homes and churches so a store front location was adequate for short while. His business thrived and prospered and he moved to the old Presbyterian manse at 203 E. Sandusky St. (now Marathon Oil parking lot). He was joined by his son, Rex C. Coldren, as their business continued to expand to where there business volume exceeded the combined volume or the other practitioners in Findlay. In 1937, they moved to 205 West Sandusky St. where from a single home, the business occupies a half city black at the present time. Three generations of the Coldren family have managed the firm with David R. Coldren, Rex’s son, also joining the practice.
Three brothers, Larry, Charles and Jack Crates, who were also farm boys from southern Hancock County began a business in funeral service in Arlington in 1968 and acquired the Goff Funeral Home in Carey, Ohio in 1970. The aging Coldren’s merged their business with the Crates’ in 1975 and that merger proved to be a good fit since the similarities between the families were very great and the strength and weaknesses of the various family members seemed to compliment each other beautifully. It was determined that the central location of the facility was an asset so the building has been remolded numerous times, but a major rebuild took place in 1979-80 bringing the facility to a level that exceeds anything in the area.
The business founded after WWII by Frank Paden in North Baltimore joined in the merger in 1986. This marriage of businesses also has proven to be a sound one as the backgrounds and origins of the people of our communities are similar. The economy of scale allows us to provide a much higher level of service than would be possible if we were not yoked together.
A new perspective and depth has been added with the return of the next generation of our family. Amanda, Scott and Andrew Crates are fully licensed funeral service professionals with rather eclectic academic backgrounds that seem to generate new ideas and better ways to deliver service to a new generation. Our facilities and services are constantly evolving and reconfigured to serve an ever changing population.
Charles is 1963 graduate of Arlington High School, attending Bluffton College and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He has three children, Andrew, now back with the family business, Ashley (deceased) and Matthew. Charles heads up the operations at the family farm just outside of Arlington. He is a member of First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Findlay, Pheasants Forever and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.
Larry, the eldest of the "Crates Boys" is a 1961 graduate of Arlington High School. He went on to earn his Bachelor's Degree from The Ohio State University where he played in the marching band. He is also a graduate of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He served in the US AirForce from 1968-74. In 1970, he married Rindy M. McNett at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jenera. They have two children, Amanda E. (Crates) Steinmetz and Katie O. Tesner. Amanda is a funeral director with the family firm and Katie is an attorney in Columbus, Ohio. They also have a granddaughter, Noah and twin grandsons, Kellen and Reis. Larry is past-president of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, the United Way of Hancock County. He member of the American Legion and the MasonicLodge and the American Guild of Organists. He is a lifetime member of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church. He is currently on the board of Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company in Bluffton.
Jack graduated from Arlington High School and received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Bowling Green State University and his associate degree from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He is married to the former Elaine Wright and they have three children: Scott (Laura) Crates, Dr. Kimberli (Matt) Best and Dr. Emily (Nate) Heintzelman. They have eight grandchildren: Molly, Luke, Maggie and Nick Crates; Ben, Jake, and Max Best, and Tommy Heintzelman. Jack is a member of the Gateway Church, past president and ex-official director of the Hancock County Humane Society, the Findlay Rotary Club, and various Masonic organizations.
Andrew attended St. Wendelin Catholic High School, graduating in 1999. He obtained his computer sciences degree from Bowling Green State University and an Associates degree from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He returned to the family business in 2006, the same year he married his mortuary school classmate, Lisa Carpenter. Lisa is now a teacher at Arlington Local Schools. They have two children, Morgan and Mason. They attend First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Findlay. He is active in Hancock County Pheasants Forever, farming the family farm and enjoys hunting.
Scott is a 1995, graduate of Findlay High School where he played football, basketball and baseball. He obtained his business degree from Ohio Northern University in 1999, where he also played baseball. Scott is also a graduate of Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. In October of 2000, he married the former Laura Bird. They have four children, Molly, Luke, Maggie and Nick. They are members of First Presbyterian Church. Scott is also a member of the Masonic Lodge.
Amanda is a 1994 graduate of Hardin-Northern High School, a 1998 graduate of Urbana University, and a 1999 graduate of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. She received her Master's of Business Administration from the University of Findlay in 2003. Amanda married Shiloe Steinmetz on July 4, 2009 and he is a pharmacist at MedCo Health in Columbus. They have twin sons, Kellen Scott and Gabriel Reis. They also have three dogs, Augustus (a rottweiler), Julius and Angel (both English Bulldogs). They reside in southern Hancock County. She is active in the Findlay Rotary Club where she is head of the Youth Committee, on the board of Cancer Patient Services and active with the United Way. Amanda and her husband both compete in figure/bodybuilding competitions and she spends much of her free time at the YMCA and CrossFit. She is also a member of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jenera.