Jacob J. Bleitz - father, husband, friend, funeral director, embalmer, inventor, founder & owner of Bleitz Funeral Parlors in Seattle, Washington, passed away on Saturday, February 25th, 1939.
Born in Sandwich, Illinois to Jacob Bleitz Sr. and Katherine Bleitz nee Hiebeck.
Mr. Jacob Bleitz moved to Seattle from Wichita, Kansas where he worked as an undertaker, and established his business as a local mortician in 1905, with funeral home business in the Green Lake area. By 1908 he and John Rafferty, had established the Bleitz-Rafferty Undertaking Company at 617-621 Kilbourne Street in the Fremont neighborhood. The business advertised its affordable services: The Bleitz-Rafferty Co. Has Brought the Cost of Funerals Down to Where IT OUGHT TO BE,’ citing costs of an “$85 Trust Price Casket” for $35 and cremation service for $20, and a “complete funeral” for $47.50. This business continued until at least 1919, but ceased operations by 1921, the same year that Mr. Bleitz built the new Bleitz Funeral Home at 316 Florentia Street in the Queen Anne/Fremont neighborhood.
Jacob J. Bleitz established the Bleitz Funeral Home January 1, 1905. He received his training from the Chicago College of Embalming in Illinois, graduating in 1900, and practiced for several years in Kansas. He came from Wichita to Seattle during the Winter of 1904, and continued working as a mortician in the funeral industry, establishing a location near Green Lake (Seattle Daily Times, February 27, 1939).
In early 1906, Bleitz moved his business to the Fremont area, partnering with Edgar Ray Butterworth, an established Seattle undertaker. Their business operated under a few different titles, including Bleitz & Butterworth and Fremont Undertaking Company; Bleitz & Butterworth.
The latter business title raised conflicts with a nearby competitor, M.O. Carton, who had been operating his business as Fremont Undertaker.
Bleitz and Butterworth stay partners only until in September 1906. For a period of about two years, Bleitz operated the Bleitz Undertaking Company. However, in November 1908; J.J. Bleitz and J.W. Rafferty joined to incorporate Fremont Undertaking Company (This name again stirred up conflict with the operators of Carton’s business, and a lawsuit ensued over the claim to the business name.) The undertaking company operated as a tenant of the Doric Masonic Lodge on 617 Kilbourne Street, present-day North 36th Street (Fremont).
Bleitz and Rafferty ended their partnership in 1919, and Bleitz then established his own business (Bleitz Undertaking & Cremation Co.), moving two blocks down on the street to 315 Kilbourne (near 36th and Phinney) . It was from this site that he relocated to the building on 316 Florentia Street in 1921.
After the new funeral home location on Florentia Street was constructed, Jacob and Irene moved from their residence at 8610 8th Avenue NE to 318 Florentia Street, to the apartment above the funeral home. Soon after the couple moved to 1900 Magnolia Boulevard in 1929.
In the late 1920's, Mr Bleitz began developing designs for his "Bleitz Evaporator" Crematory. In 1932, He patented his crematory invention and began to travel to other states to sell, build, and install them for funeral homes.
Mr. Bleitz was an early innovator and advocate with regards to cremation as a form of disposition. He was a proud member of the Cremation Association of America. Today, known as Cremation Association of North America (CANA). Mr Bleitz was also a President of the King County Funeral Directors Association and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
The Jacob J. Bleitz family was active in the community as a member of the Free Mason Society at Green Lake Lodge and later the Doric Society in Fremont as well as the The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Irene C. Bleitz, his second wife and co-owner of the funeral home, was a member of the local Ladies’ Literary and Music Club and the Central Presbyterian Church, and hosted social functions.
Jacob and Irene had a daughter, Mary Jeanne, and two sons, James C. (identified also as Jasper and Jas) and Lawrence L. Bleitz. According to Polk Directory listings, James began working in the family business in 1922 as an assistant in Bleitz Undertaking Company. Lawrence became an assistant in 1927, along with James’ wife, Margaret. For a short period after 1932 Lawrence’s wife, Ebba M. Bleitz (also listed as Effa M.), joined the business as an embalmer-mortician.
Jacob and son, James, were involved in at least one other funeral business, the Kirkland Funeral Home, for a short time in the 1930s.
On February 25, 1939, Jacob J. Bleitz died suddenly at home of a heart attack. After his death, his widow, Irene, continued to own the business until her death in 1952, while his sons, James and Lawrence Bleitz, maintained and operated the business, as the funeral director and mortician respectively.
Mr. Bleitz had been a funeral director for over 50 years.
Graveside services were held at Crown Hill Cemetery in Seattle on Tuesday, February 28th, 1939.
He will be remembered for all time.
Arrangements Entrusted to Bleitz Funeral Parlors 316 Florentia Street - Seattle, Washington 98109
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