Muzyka Funeral celebrates 100 years in Chicago
by BRIAN NADIG
For the past 100 years, three generations of the Muzyka family have planned funerals for families in Chicago.
“We’re very happy to have helped people in this difficult time,” B. Michael Muzyka, operator of Muzyka and Son Funeral Home, 5776 W. Lawrence Ave., said. “If they can’t afford, we do whatever we can to help them, giving them a dignified service. That’s something my dad always stressed.”
Michael Muzyka’s grandfather, Basil Muzyka, founded the business at 2157 W. Chicago Ave. in 1915, and his sister, Marie Muzyka, joined the business a short time later, becoming one of the first women in Chicago to serve as a funeral director and embalmer. The company used a horse and buggy for transportation until it purchased its first vehicle, a 1917 Cunningham.
A Ukrainian immigrant, Basil Muzyka decided to attend a mortuary college in 1912 after he noted that funeral directors where he lived were taking advantage of immigrants, according Michael Muzyka.
Michael Muzyka’s father, Basil Bohdan “Danny” Muzyka, joined the family business in the late 1940s, and in 1980 the company opened a second location on Lawrence Avenue when it purchased the former Kowachek Funeral Home, which was built about 85 years ago. The site features one of the most recognizable landmarks in the neighborhood, a fountain that includes a statue of a woman.
A century ago it was not unusual for wakes to be held in the home of the deceased, and in some instances embalming occurred in the home, Michael Muzyka said.
Michael Muzyka’s sister, Margaret Muzyka, operates the Chicago Avenue location. In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Muzyka and Son Funeral will hold an open house from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at its renovated Jefferson Park facility.