Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ojai Losing Its Funeral Home

Mike Brown, left, Jerry Clausen, Barbara Clausen and Chester Perry. After 71 years of service to the community as Ojai’s only funeral home, Clausen’s is closing its doors.

By Lenny Roberts
How times have changed. Being born in Ojai’s hospital is now only on an emergency basis, and few, if any of us will be buried in Nordhoff Cemetery. Although you can still die here, funeral arrangements will have to be made elsewhere because, despite the aging of Ojai, Clausen’s Funeral Home is closing its doors Thursday after 71 years of operation.
In 1935, Jerry Clausen’s parents bought the nearly one-acre parcel of land on the prime corner of Montgomery and Matilija streets where they soon opened Ojai’s funeral parlor in the front room of the two-story Victorian-style white house. In those days, a funeral a month was about all there was there. As a young boy, Jerry Clausen helped his father in the business, which also provided the town’s only ambulance service.
“The hearse was the ambulance,” Clausen said. “There were not a lot of laws in those days.”
Before 1960, all emergency and other patients went to Ventura. But as Ojai grew, so did the need for a hospital, which co-owner Barbara Clausen calls, “One of the best things to ever happen to Ojai,” and a full-time mortuary capable of servicing the Ojai community.
Even before the hospital was built, Clausen Funeral Home was constructed on the southeast corner of the property, and has since served thousands of families. About 180 arrangements are provided each year — just two short of the average of the more than 21,000 funeral homes nationwide, according to the National Funeral Director’s Association web site.
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