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.
Kidwell-Garber. More than just a legendary name.
Kidwell-Garber is not only brick and mortar, but a legacy of service that is steeped in commitment, trust, compassion and celebration of life. For more than 172 years, Kidwell-Garber has had the opportunity to serve the families of Versailles and surrounding communities, and the west side of the Lake of the Ozarks. As the second-oldest funeral home in the state of Missouri and the oldest business in Morgan County, that legacy continues today.
The founding family. Visionary civic commitment.
In 1844, William Kidwell, Sr. founded Kidwell Funeral Home and Kidwell Monument Company with an entrepreneurial spirit and goal to serve his community. He and his descendants accomplished that goal with a contagious commitment to civic duty and the needs of their client families. Upon Bill Kidwell’s death, his wishes were to divide his company among his dedicated group of employees. The following years led Raymond and Susanna Garber to purchase all outstanding stock from Bill’s successors, gaining full ownership in the 1970s. With the utmost respect for the Kidwell family before them, the Garber name was added to follow the company founders, creating Kidwell-Garber, Inc.
Vintage name. Vintage values. New beginnings.
Raymond and Susanna not only kept the Kidwell family’s legacy alive, they expanded it. Focusing solely on funeral service and granite products, they sold the Wilbert Vault franchise, which continues to operate in the area under separate ownership. In 1979, they purchased a tract of property in Laurie, Missouri to serve the growing west side of the Lake of the Ozarks. On that property, the Kidwell-Garber Laurie/Sunrise Beach Chapel was built. The East, adjacent portion of the property was developed as Garber Memorial Estates, a privately held cemetery for the residents of Lake West communities. Over the years, The Garber family has continued to demonstrate commitment to their communities by continually improving services and facilities for the families they serve.
Today. Tomorrow. Looking forward to the next 170 years.
The Garber family continues to hold ownership of Kidwell-Garber, Inc., perpetuating the legacy that has been built for over a century and a half. Following Raymond and Susanna’s leadership, their son, Gary Garber led the company for over 30 years as president of Kidwell-Garber, Inc. Being a family operation, their son-in-law, Larry Akin, also served the company for over 30 years as manager of the granite division, Kidwell Granite Works. In 2009, after a thirty-nine year teaching tenure, Ray and Susanna’s daughter and son-in-law, Larry and Sue Garber Akin, acquired all outstanding stock to become sole owners of Kidwell-Garber, Inc. Larry passed away in 2011, leaving his legacy within the granite division and his surviving family. Sue continues to guide Kidwell-Garber with her daughter, Suzanne Akin Hall and her son, Landon Akin.
Service. Expectation. Product Satisfaction.
Kidwell-Garber, Inc. is the parent of Kidwell-Garber Funeral Homes, Kidwell Granite Works, Garber Memorial Estates and Kidwell-Garber Funeral Plans. Unique to Kidwell-Garber is the ability to provide all products and services related to an aftercare need. A family is allowed the opportunity to seamlessly create a custom funeral service, design a personalized granite memorial, choose burial plots and/or pre-plan funeral arrangements – assisted by our staff with full knowledge of the family’s wishes. Options are as diverse as the families served, ranging from a traditional chapel service to a memorial gathering on a dock at sunset. For perpetual memory in stone, granite memorials can be fully customized and tailored to reflect the architecture of a life.
It’s unique. Kidwell-Garber client-families receive full attention from the provider/manufacturer.
At Kidwell-Garber: Expectations are consistently met. Service is second to none. Product satisfaction is paramount.
A Note from Sue Garber Akin…
Bill Kidwell may have never imagined what Kidwell-Garber would become. However, with my parents, Ray and Susanna as mentors to our successive generations, I proudly continue to offer expertise, service, knowledge and products with the compassion for which we have been known for more than 172 years. And, just as important as our owner-family is our employee-family. They are a fantastic group of individuals for which I am most thankful. Our company has been fortunate to provide outstanding funeral services and memorial products due to our staff members and their daily commitment to serving you.
Our commitment to providing an unparalleled service experience is not only evident through our staff, but also the reinvestment into our properties offered for your events. Our chapels have been designed as beautiful spaces to reflect our communities. The K-G vehicle fleet has received updates to provide stately transportation in the latest model Cadillac XTS funeral coach, XTS chauffeured stretch limousine with refreshment bar for the family and an Escalade for casket bearers. In addition, Garber Memorial Estates is set to undergo a beautiful entrance addition and landscape redesign for 2016. We believe our families deserve the absolute best at the most reasonable price point in the Lake area. My family and our staff are pleased to offer our outstanding services.
I am confident Kidwell-Garber and its staff will surpass your expectations.
Our Valued Staff
Raymond & Susanna Garber, (Legacy)
As successors of the Kidwell family, Ray and Susanna spent more than sixty years as employees at Kidwell-Garber, Inc., with nearly forty of those years as owners. Ray and Susanna both passed away in 2015, leaving an unparalleled legacy with their children, grandchildren and Kidwell-Garber itself.
The couple was known for their love of family, community, adventure and travel. The services provided to the community by their heirs and Kidwell-Garber, Inc. are their lasting legacy.
Sue Garber Akin, CEO/Owner
Sue, a graduate of Central Methodist University, retired from the Versailles school system with a 39-year tenure as an award-winning teacher. As a licensed funeral director, she has been a partner of Kidwell-Garber for nearly 20 years, acquiring complete ownership in 2009. She now oversees the leadership of the company.
Sue is an avid certified Master Gardener through the University of Missouri. She also enjoys riding her prize Tennessee Walking Horse, Knight, and spending time with her granddaughter, Landri Suzanne. A denied work/volunteer-aholic, she may be found assisting in many capacities at the Versailles United Methodist Church and working with multiple civic organizations.
Suzanne Akin Hall, Embalmer/Funeral Director
A graduate of Central Methodist University and the Kansas City Kansas Community College, Suzanne holds a B.S. in criminal justice and an A.A.S. of mortuary science. She serves as president of Kidwell-Garber and is the senior embalmer/funeral director on staff, managing all funeral operations. Suzanne is also the primary counselor meeting with client-families to design arrangements for services and pre-need planning.
In 2010, Suzanne and her husband, Corey, welcomed their first daughter, Landri Suzanne Hall. When not trying to keep up with Landri, Suzanne enjoys playing volleyball on various leagues in the Lake area.
Landon Akin, Director of Operations
Landon is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a B.A. in marketing and psychology. He spent several years in Kansas City, managing advertising for hospitals and universities at The Kansas City Star, where he produced the top performing campaign client group and created new sections of the newspaper. Later, he worked in events and marketing for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, where his innovation led to record-breaking recruitment in a single event and his design and written copy recruited members for the ninth-largest Chamber in the United States. Landon is now responsible for branding/marketing and the comprehensive business unit of Kidwell-Garber, Inc.
Landon now resides in the Lake area, fortunate to be able to live lakeside and take advantage of the beauty our area affords. If not at work, he can be found boating on the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks or traveling to a new destination. His favorite? Repelling waterfalls in Costa Rica.
Claudia Burris, Records Manager
Anyone contacting Kidwell-Garber will inevitably speak with Claudia at one point. She manages all records and correspondence for the four companies. Questions about invoices, life insurance assistance, government agency processes? Claudia is the friendly expert who guides our client-families through any paperwork.
Claudia and her husband, Ken, are very active in the Trinity Baptist Church. The only thing that might come between them and their activities there is spoiling their grandchildren.