Ertel Funeral Home has been serving the Montezuma and Dolores County area for nearly eighty years. J. Walter Ertel purchased the Ames and Omo Funeral Homes in Mancos, Cortez, and Dolores in 1921. In 1933 he consolidated the three funeral homes in an old two-story frame building located on the site of the current building. Mr. Ertel began building the present building in 1935 and on January 26, 1936 the Ertels and the Cortez community celebrated the opening of the new facility. The week-long affair was a major event that received extensive coverage in both local newspapers. One called it, "the finest mortuary on the whole western slope of Colorado". "Outwardly the building is a beauty. Inside it is even prettier. As you step through the doorway into the reception room you stand aghast at the beauty of the interior. As you enter the chapel you are more impressed. With perfect acoustics it is a thing to marvel over. Most impressive is the colored glass in the front of the chapel and a light from behind brings out clearly the words of "Crossing the Bar". Underneath this rests the casket during the hour of service." In 1995 the Ertel Funeral Home was listed in the National and Colorado Register of Historical Places.
Since 1921 the Ertel Funeral Home has served Southwest Colorado, Southeast Utah, and Northeast Arizona, as well as two Native American tribes, the Navajo and Ute Mountain Ute tribes. Three generations of Ertel morticians have helped tend the family business: J. Walter Ertel operated the funeral home until 1956; his son, Walter E. Ertel, from 1956 to 1992; and his grandson, Keenan G. Ertel, from 1993 to the present. J. Walter Ertel felt a deep commitment to his community and the area he served. This ideal has been carried through each generation that followed.
In the several decades after the construction of the Ertel Funeral Home, it was one of the few places in town with enough space and appropriate decor to lend itself to formal gatherings. Many young churches found themselves without facilities and used the chapel for their services until a permanent home could be found. The chapel was also used for wedding and anniversary parties, as well as community meetings. Today there is little call for the outside use of the chapel but the Ertels continue to support the area and their community through contributions and service.
Since 1993 when Keenan Ertel purchased the funeral home from his father, numerous additions have been made to better serve the families of the area. With the increasing demand for cremation as the final disposition, Ertel Funeral Home purchased its own cremation unit in 1997, thereby assuring families that the care of their loved one would remain solely with Ertel Funeral Home. Ertels are the only funeral home serving Montezuma and Dolores Counties that can make that guarantee.
In keeping with the idea that each service should be reflective of the life being remembered, Ertel Funeral Home has made a conscious decision to offer custom caskets that more closely reflect the life or interests of the deceased, and to go beyond the basic preprinted memorial folder by investing in state of the art machinery and designing custom pictorial folders.
Keenan and Beverlee's daughter, Kinsey and her husband, Jake moved back to Cortez bringing a fourth generation of Ertels to serve our communities.