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About Us

Our History

Riley Funeral Home

Edward Walter Riley III ‘Walter’ owned and operated the Riley Chapel in Iowa City from 1936-1941. In 1941, Walter Riley purchased the Myers Funeral Home and it then became the Riley Funeral Home at 401 East Seventh Street.

Walter continued operating the business until 1956, when his son, Edward Walter Riley IV ‘Ed’ graduated from Worsham’s College of Mortuary Science and joined the business. Ed then served two years in the United States Army from 1957-1959 and then rejoined the Riley Funeral Home in 1959.

Ed purchased the funeral home from his father in 1963. Ed's daughter Jennifer joined the business in 1983, then graduated from Worsham’s College of Mortuary Science in 1988.

Ed and Jennifer, along with her husband, Joseph Vogel, operated the funeral home together until 1996, when Jennifer and Joseph purchased the business.

Ralph J. Wittich Funeral Home

Werner Wittich and his brother George operated the Wittich Brothers Furniture and Undertaking Business in the 1800’s. In 1932, Werner Wittich left Wittich Brothers and along with his son, Ralph, opened the Ralph J. Wittich Funeral Home in 1932, at 216 West Third Street.

In 1933, Edward Freers joined the firm. In 1935, Edward Freers graduated from Worsham’s Mortuary School and returned as a licensed funeral director. Following Werner’s death in 1944, Ralph sold Ed Freers a partnership in the business. The partnership continued until 1964, when Ed Freers purchased the entire business from Ralph.

In 1970, Ed’s son, David Freers, started working at the funeral home following his graduation from the Milwaukee Institute of Mortuary Science. In 1978, Ed sold the funeral home to his son, David.

Ralph J. Wittich-Riley-Freers Funeral Home

In 1996, the Ralph J. Wittich and Riley families merged, becoming one business and built a new funeral home at 1931 Houser Street.

In 2005, Joseph and Jennifer’s son, Charles Vogel, joined the business. Charles’ wife, Sarah Vogel joined the business in 2019 and then graduated with a degree in mortuary science from DMACC. 

In 2017, following David Freers' retirement, Joseph and Jennifer purchased David's half of the business. That same year, Joseph and Jennifer's daughter, Samantha Vogel, graduated from Iowa Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and joined the business. 

The Ralph J. Wittich-Riley-Freers Funeral Home is family owned and has been operated by the same family for four generations.

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