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History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

1837 - Founded The Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, Inc. at 6500 York Road in Rodgers Forge traces it's history back to 1837 when John Hughes by name, started a cabinetmaking business at 170 South Bond Street, just east of the inner harbor in downtown Baltimore City. This 1837 starting date makes the firm one of the oldest in Maryland and also in the United States. In 1860, John Hughes added Undertaker to his Cabinetmaker business name, changed the firm name to John Hughes and Sons and moved the business to 65 South Broadway, a few blocks from Bond Street. In 1874, John's son, William H. Hughes, had come into the business and a son-in-law, Francis M. Denny, had also joined the firm, which now would go by the name of Hughes & Denny. In 1876, a second location was added at 550 W. Fayette Street, just west of center city and a second son-in-law, E. Madison Mitchell, came into the business. Another branch office was opened in 1881 at 1201 W. Fayette St. in west Baltimore. The name of the business changed in 1885 to Denny & Mitchell as the Hughes name was dropped and the two principals were now Francis M. Denny and E. Madison Mitchell. Francis Denny died in 1895 and the firm name became simply the E. Madison Mitchell Funeral Home. His nephew, John O. Mitchell, Sr. joined the firm in the early 1900's and took over as President in 1916 when E. Madison died. In 1924, the firm name was changed to John O. Mitchell & Sons as John Sr.'s two sons, John O. Jr. and Mahlon B. graduated from high school and joined their father in the business. A year later, the business would move to 1900 Eutaw Place at Robert Street where it would remain until 1965. The company was incorporated in 1932 and to this day holds only one of fifty-nine corporate funeral charters in existence in the State of Maryland. John O. Mitchell, Jr. took over as company President in 1950 when his father died, and the title was passed to John O. Mitchell, III in 1959 when his father (John, Jr.) died.

1914 - Historic Event One of the historic highlights of the early Mitchell funeral business, occurred in 1914, when the company officiated at what is said to have been the first engine driven automobile funeral ever held in the United States and probably the world. The funeral consisted of four Cadillac limousines and one Cadillac hearse, the bodies of all five vehicles were made to order for the Mitchell firm by local wagon builders. All funeral vehicles were horse drawn prior to this.

1965 - Rodgers Forge In July of 1965, 1900 Eutaw Place was sold and a totally new funeral home was erected at 6500 York Road (at Overbrook Road) in Rodgers Forge, just north of the city/county line in Baltimore County. At the same time, the firm merged with long time funeral home owner J. Liston Wiedefeld, who at that time was selling his funeral home located at Greenmount Ave. and 22nd Street in Baltimore City. With the formation of the new partnership and new location opening in July of 1965, the firm was renamed to John O. Mitchell & Sons-Wiedefeld Home, Inc.

1972 - Timonium A branch operation was established in 1972 with long time funeral director J. E. Lowell Lemmon, a nephew to J. Liston Wiedefeld, and a funeral home was erected at 10 West Padonia Road and York Road in Timonium. This operation would be known as The Dulaney Valley Home of Lemmon-Mitchell-Wiedefeld, Inc. Following the death of Mr. Lemmon in 1989, the Mitchell Family sold their interest in the firm to Mr. Lemmon's widow, Joyce and son Lowell, Jr. in 1994. Today, that funeral home is owned by the national funeral conglomerate, Service Corporation International of Houston, Texas.

Independent & Family Owned The Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, Inc. remains today in Rodgers Forge at 6500 York Road in Towson (at Overbrook Road) with John O. Mitchell, IV as President and John O. Mitchell, III as Chairman. The Mitchell funeral business has remained truly an independent and family owned operation. John III's daughter, Josette, has been office manager since 1991. Over the past ten to fifteen years, there has been an alarming trend toward national, publicly traded corporations, acquiring local family owned funeral homes. We have rebuked all overtures from that direction in order to remain an independent, family owned business.

2007 - Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens In the most recent and exciting news, The Mitchell Family has recently purchased the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens & Mausoleum in Timonium from the John Armiger Family. This too, was a family owned business, started in 1958 by John Armiger, Sr. and continued by his son, John Jr. until the transfer of ownership to the Mitchells in July of 2007.

The Mitchell Family has every intention of continuing both operations as independent and family owned businesses.

Our Valued Staff

John O. Mitchell III

John O. Mitchell III, Chairman

John became sole owner of the John O. Mitchell & Sons, Inc. funeral home in December, 1959 upon the death of his father, John (Jack) O. Mitchell, Jr. At the time, he became the fifth generation to carry on the family business.In the early 1960’s, the funeral home was located at 1900 Eutaw Place in Baltimore City. That neighborhood was experiencing quite a change at that time and the firm was moved in July,1965 to 6500 York Road in Rodgers Forge, just over the county line. At the same time, a partnership was consummated with J. Liston Wiedefeld, a funeral director formerly of 22nd. St. & Greenmount Ave. to form John O. Mitchell & Sons – Wiedefeld Home, Inc.John attended the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, graduating in 1957.Remaining active with the school, he served as alumni President in 1988-1989 and then served on the Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1996, serving as Secretary the last six years. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Baltimore in 1963 and a Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law in 1970.Born & raised in Riderwood, MD., John III resides with his wife of 51 years, Jolie (nee Krein) in the Hurstleigh-Woodbrook Section of Baltimore County. He is a life-time member of the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in the heart of Mt. Vernon Place in downtown Baltimore. He still attends the Baltimore City Rotary Club where he has been a member since 1968. In addition he continues to serve on the Board of the Maryland Bible Society and has been since 1976. He was a former director of the Better Business Bureau and former board member of the Methodist Home of Maryland. Currently John & Jolie are members of the L’Hirondelle Club in Ruxton. He is an avid waterfowl hunter of both ducks and geese on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Kent Island. A good portion of most summers are spent at their summer cottage in southern Maine.John presently serves as the Chairman of both the Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, Inc. and the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, Inc. Semi-retired from both operations, he spends many afternoons working with the maintenance staff at Dulaney Valley, particularly around the two acre pond which is the focal point of the cemetery

John O. Mitchell IV

John O. Mitchell IV, CFSP, CCSP, President

Jack has been working for his family's businesses since 1993 and has operated John O. Mitchell IV, Funeral Services of Dulaney Valley since it’s inception in 2007 when he and his father, John O. Mitchell III, became the owners of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens. He became licensed as a Maryland mortician in 1995. Jack graduated from McDonogh school in 1989, served as President of it's Alumni Association for the 2007-2008 term, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management, and from Catonsville Community College in 1995 with an Associate in Arts degree in Mortuary Science. Jack has been very active with the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association, serving as it's President for the term 2005-2006, and has also served on several committees of the National Funeral Directors Association and currently serves on it's Board of Directors as an At-Large Representative for the term 2016-2018. Jack was born and raised in the Towson area and currently resides in Lutherville.

Dennis S. Xenakis

Dennis S. Xenakis, Managing Director

Dennis has assisted Mr. Mitchell at Mitchell Funeral Services of Dulaney Valley since it’s inception in 2007. He has worked for Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, Inc. since 1973 and has been Managing Director since 1994.. He attended Boys' Latin School, Loyola College of MD and Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, and attained his State of Maryland Mortician's License in 1977. Dennis is an active member of the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association, serving on it's Political Action and Long Term Planning Committees. He is also a member of the Boys' Latin School Alumni Association and the McDonogh School Patrons Association, where he is involved with the Annual Giving and Capitol Campaigns. Dennis and his wife, Claire, live just on the county side of the city line in Pinehurst with their daughters Pamela and Caitlin.

George J. Ferrarse

George J. Ferrarse, Funeral Director

George was born and raised in Overlea and is a 1976 graduate of John Carroll High School. He started serving his apprenticeship with Mitchell-Wiedefeld in 1976. George graduated from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in March of 1980 and became a licensed mortician in Maryland the following month. He currently resides in Nottingham, MD.

Patricia M. Bridge

Patricia M. Bridge, Funeral Director

Patricia has resided in Baltimore, Maryland all of her life except for 15 years where she served as an Air Force Reservist serving in Maryland, Texas, Mississippi, and overseas in Panama. Patricia and her son returned home to Maryland where she worked for Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens for 17 years as part of the maintenance crew, and rose to the position of Superintendent. Realigning her goals, she went back to school to study Mortuary Science. Patricia began serving her apprenticeship with Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in 2016 and graduated in 2017 from the CCBC Mortuary Science program. Patricia is now a licensed funeral director with Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, Inc.

Kelsey A. Ricci

Kelsey A. Ricci, Funeral Director

A New Jersey native, Kelsey moved to Baltimore in 2012 to pursue higher education. After graduating from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, she felt like there was still something else she wanted to do in life. It wasn’t until the loss of her beloved grandmother did she realize she wanted to help other families navigate the emotional process of planning a funeral and honoring their loved one in a personalized and meaningful way. Kelsey attended the Community College of Baltimore County, earning her degree in mortuary science and passing her licensing exams in September 2022, joining Mitchell-Wiedefeld shortly after in November 2022. In her spare time Kelsey enjoys listening to podcasts, playing video games & discovering all the delicious food Baltimore and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Kevin Ecker

Kevin Ecker, Funeral Assistant

Originally from Harborcreek, PA (near Erie), Kevin graduated from Penn State University in 1977, then went on to mortuary school at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. Kevin moved to Baltimore on September 10, 1979 to begin his career as a licensed funeral director with the McCully Funeral Homes in South Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Pasadena areas. He remained with them until they closed their Baltimore locations. He is now very happy to be working with the Mitchell-Wiedefeld family. In his spare time, you can find him at one of the area theaters, either on or off stage.

A. Charles Banknell Jr.

A. Charles Banknell Jr.

A. Charles Banknell, Jr. has been with Mitchell-Wiedefeld for over 20 years. Chuck received his B.A. degree from American University in 1977. He and his wife, Lisa, have been Rodgers Forge residents for 32 years. Chuck is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Rodgers Forge Community Association, as well as a past member of the Hibernian Society of Baltimore, and the Advocate Club of Maryland. Their only daughter resides in New York.

Julie Thomas

Julie Thomas, Office Manager

Born and raised in Maryland, Julie graduated from Elkton High school in 1988 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Towson University in 1993. After graduation, Julie enjoyed a successful career in the finance industry before taking time off to raise a family. Julie returned to the workforce full-time in 2016 as Office Manager for Mitchell-Wiedefeld. She currently resides in Lutherville with her husband and children.

Edward  Plumer Jr.

Edward Plumer Jr., Custodian

Born in Baltimore and raised in the Rodgers Forge community, Edward was educated in local schools. Edward enjoyed managing newspaper delivery routes until 1990. In 1990, Edward became self-employed and built a lawn & landscaping business. Edward joined Mitchell-Wiedefeld as a Custodian in 2002. Edward enjoys gardening, taking continuing education classes online and watching nostalgic television.

Christina (Chris) Strassner

Christina (Chris) Strassner, Hostess

Born and raised in Baltimore, Chris graduated from Towson High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Chris worked alongside her parents for 25 years at their family owned florist in Towson. The store closed in 1990. Chris joined the Mitchell-Wiedefeld family part-time in 2014 and works full-time at The Store Ltd. Currently, she resides in Timonium to be close to her daughters and granddaughter. She often visits her son in Los Angeles with hopes of retirement out West one day.

Ann Aumann

Ann Aumann, Hostess

Born and raised in the Baltimore area, Ann graduated from Towson High School. She earned her undergraduate degree from James Madison University and her Master's from Loyola University of Maryland. Ann worked for Baltimore County Public Schools for over 35 years, first as a special educator then a school counselor. Upon retirement Ann joined the Mitchell-Wiedefeld family part-time as her husband had before her. Ann currently resides in Towson so as to be close to her two grown sons, their wives and her grandchildren.

June Kramp

June Kramp, Hostess

June was born and raised in Rodgers Forge and graduated from Towson Senior High School. She worked in the retail business for 15 years. In July 2019, June joined Mitchell-Wiedefeld. In her free time, June enjoys trips to Frederick, Maryland to visit family. She currently resides in Parkville, Maryland.

Jennifer  Topping

Jennifer Topping, Hostess

Jennifer was born in New Hampshire and raised in Cedarcroft. She graduated from Seton High School and went on to study Art & Art History at Towson University, studied Drawing and Painting at MICA, and attended Hopkins Odyssey program for Fiction and Creative Writing. For 20 years Jennifer worked with children in every grate at St. Pius X School in Baltimore. She enjoys cycling and has traveled to numerous locations in America and Italy to ride. She resides with her husband in Rogers Forge and spends much of her free time with family and friends reading and painting. Jennifer is currently writing a book.

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