Ayres-Calbeck Mortuary has merged with Larrison Mortuary effective Sept. 11.

The merger of Ayres-Calbeck Mortuary and Larrison Mortuary announced Sept. 11 is bringing changes to the building that has been a mortuary for 125 years.

The merger of the two mortuaries had been in the works for some time. Eric Larrison had approached Ayres-Calbeck previously about merging the businesses. At the end of 2016, Denis Rasmussen, Ayres-Calbeck Mortician, went to Larrison's Mortuary and discussed the merger with the family, Larrison said.

Larrison Mortuary purchased the building, funeral related contents, the vehicles, the storage building and the lot. Larrison said the plan was to sell the building and he hopes that some other business will purchase the building and repurpose it. There has already been some interest in the building.

"We'd love to have someone use it for something," Larrison said.

Larrison can use some of the funeral related contents but they will put the rest up for sale as well as the three Ayres-Calbeck vehicles including the hearse, a Lincoln Town Car and a Ford mini van.

The sign on the front of the building has been a feature in downtown Pratt for decades. For now, the sign will remain and continue to be a reminder of the quality service Ayres-Calbeck provided to generations of families.

While the building will no longer be used for funerals, Larrison purchased the Ayres-Calbeck name as well as the building. Anyone calling the Ayres-Calbeck phone number will be connected to Larrison. Larrisons will continue to proved quality service area residents have come to expect from Ayres-Calbeck over the years. Ayres-Calbeck held the services for Larrison's grandfather Morris Larrison.

"We wanted to keep the name because it has a good history," Larrison said.

Ayres-Calbeck has one more funeral to complete but some family members are having difficulty getting out of Florida following the hurricane, Rasmussen said.

Mortician Jack and Kathy Ebersole, who live in the apartment on the second floor of the mortuary, will be moving out sometime in the next 60 days.

For those families with pre prepared or pre paid funerals, Larrisons will honor those arrangements or the family can select another funeral home if they choose. With just one funeral home in Pratt, Larrison said he expects they will see an increase in the number of funerals at their facility.

Besides the Pratt facility, Larrisons also operates the former Forsythe Mortuary in Medicine Lodge. They also own the Foulk Mortuary in Turon but all Foulk services are done at the Pratt Facility.

Larrison said the changing trend in funerals to cremation is impacting the industry including them. Cremations are less expensive than a traditional casket funeral and it is impacting the bottom line. Individual funeral homes in small communities can't survive, they have to expand, Larrison said.

Larrison Mortuary has been located on County Club Road since 2001. Prior to that, they occupied the mortuary building on the southeast corner of Fourth and Ninnescah. Jerry and Karellen Larrison purchased the mortuary from Clyde Williams in 1978. The Flower Shoppe now occupies that building. The current Larrison Mortuary facility has all elements on one level as opposed to the Fourth Street facility that had stairs and an elevator. The current facility has made operations much simpler and safer and they have much more room. The move also helped them keep up with changes in the funeral industry, Larrison said.

Prior to 1978, Jerry worked at Resthaven and Lake View Funeral Homes in Wichita. The Williams Mortuary became available and Jerry and Karellen decided to buy the building and move to Pratt because of family here. Jerry grew up in Sawyer and Karellen grew up on a farm outside of Pratt, Larrison said.

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