In the News

Over the years, we've received numerous accolades that have been well documented in the following selected articles. As our customers' needs have changed, so have the services and the facilities at Becker Ritter. 

Click on the contents of each section below to reveal its contents. 

Antique hand hewn beam that he and his son saved from a barn located on his grandfather’s dairy farm in Dousman. He also donated a buggy that his parents had on their farm. Mr. Becker is on the board of directors of the Elmbrook Historical Society.


We are very proud to announce that Becker Ritter Funeral Home has been chosen to be one of only three funeral homes in the nation to be featured at the open general session of the 2013 National Funeral Directors' Convention. The convention will be held in Austin, TX on October 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Each year three funeral homes are chosen for their excellence in service and facility. The funeral homes are videotaped; as well as, the funeral home president is interviewed. Our segment was recorded on January 14th, and we feel so honored to have been chosen. In the past, Becker Ritter has been awarded the prestigious "Pursuit of Excellence" award from the NFDA..

On January 30, 2013, a twelve page insert was published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by the St. Camillus/San Camillo Campus announcing a seminar entitled "Navigating Through Life's Transitions". We are honored to share that Becker Ritter was chosen to be a part of their informational guide. The reprint from the Sunday paper is shown below. The seminar was held on January 29th & 30th, 2013.

Preplanning: A Celebration of Your Life

It is in our human nature to do and plan for the things we like and to put off planning tasks we don’t like, or maybe do not want to think about. Pre-arranging a funeral for most everyone falls into the “let’s put it off because…”. There are numerous reasons for this, but let’s focus on the goodness of planning and balance the discussion with the reality of the situation.

Let us treat the planning and the “celebration of your life” as a positive opportunity to share your story in a way that will help your family through a most difficult time. We sometimes hear that the deceased may have wanted no services, extremely abbreviated services or just have a party. My experience has been that these statements are rooted in a loving thought; that the plan will be most beneficial because its simplicity will make it so much easier on the family. In fact, sometimes people have gotten to a point where they believe their story isn’t important anymore. I am sharing these statements because families at the time of death want and need to do more than what was initially said. In other works the death is now real and they feel a need to express their love and loss.

It is often said that we are a society that is in denial about death. While I think we have improved, I also think “do little” statements before death are sometimes said so we don’t have to talk about it at all. The more we do, the more we heal. So in essence, the more we celebrate life, the more we grieve, the more we heal. Therefore, the more time we take in the planning process…. the better it is.  Again, that is where “keeping it simple” can hinder the healing process and not help us celebrate the life of a loved one. Grieving and celebrating are both equally important in the process of loss. I could write a book on all the creative ways individuals have personalized their funerals; including. the selection of meaningful music and songs for the service. Some have chosen to have a family member or a dear friend share musical gifts, read a favorite Bible verse and/or give a eulogy. A display of memorabilia, photos and/or a video tribute are also wonderful ways to celebrate life. A very unique and touching thought maybe to write and leave your own message. These conversations ahead of time, may make acceptance easier at the time of need for everyone involved.

Preplanning cannot take away your family’s pain of loss, but it can take away the overwhelming feeling of what do I do now?  As in everything, knowledge and preparation are two of the most important things in life….and in fact, death.  

-Submitted by Joe Becker, Becker Ritter Funeral Home

(A section from the full article)

Vertame Grosvenor said she always wondered why she and her relatives ate so much after funerals."Even people on diets just ate plate after plate," Ms. Grosvenor, a cultural correspondent for National Public Radio, said about postfuneral meals in South Carolina, where she grew up. "My theory was, we ate so much because that's how we knew we were alive."

Funeral meals have always meant to assuage grief and to honor the dead and their beliefs about the hereafter.  In America these meals also reflect ethnicity, health trends, state law and contemporary funeral practices.

LaVone Hazell, a family therapist who trains clergy in bereavement support and advocacy, quotes the New York state law prohibiting the "preparation, sale, service or distribution of food or beverages in any part of a funeral establishment to or by friends, relatives, mourners, family, visitors or next kin of any deceased person." Ms. Hazell said: "I've wanted to run a funeral home since I was 6 years old, but not in New York. The food issue upsets me."At the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service on West 54th Street, Ms. Hazell tries to instill a sense of cultural awareness in her lectures on grief psychology."Funeral meals, like the African American repast, are so important to so many ethnic and religious communities, I could never run a funeral home that didn't accommodate them," she said.

It is an imperative that Joseph Becker understands."Recently we had a lovely funeral dinner," Mr. Becker said. "Catered. About $20 per person. Beautiful china and linen. Fancy folded napkins. Sculpted butter. A fabulous display of hors d'oeuvres. Chicken on a skewer with a nice Greek dressing. Stuffed mushroom caps. Little Reuben sandwiches. It was better than most wedding dinners I've been to."

Mr. Becker owns Becker Ritter Funeral Homes of Brookfield, Wis. He is best known in the funeral industry as a pioneer in the use of video technology in memorial services. In 1997 he added a 1,500 square-foot dining hall to Becker Ritter, complete with an antique fireplace and fountain.

"Because of the growth in cremations, there's no need to go to the cemetery," he said. "I started looking down the road at the future. I wanted to offer something of value to the people we serve. Our community is mostly German, Irish and Polish. Serving food after a funeral is very good and a needed part of our clients' traditions."

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Going beyond the standard arrays of caskets, urns and flowers, a growing number of funeral directors nationwide are creating high-gloss, commemorative DVDs that star the deceased. With the widespread availability of digital editing software, feature-packed, themed DVDs are replacing the photo albums and picture boards that have been staples of funerals for decades. Designed on short notice, DVDs usually contain photos, home videos and milestone documents like diplomas. We're starting to see the public really embrace this," says Joe Becker, a funeral director in Brookfield, Wis. "People who don't know we offer DVDs actually come in with their own laptops wanting to do it themselves." Service Corporation International, a conglomeration of 1,600 funeral homes, says it has already designed 7,000 DVDs this year- up from 2,500 in 2003.

The industry's now moving to bring funeral directors up to speed. Next month the National Funeral Directors Association convention will premier its first DVD workshop. The American Board of Funeral Service Education expects all mortuary schools to add digital video courses by 2005. And funeralOne, a funeral tech company, will soon introduce DVD editing software that provides directors with theme templates (such as "animal lover" or "avid sports fan") and preselected background music. It gives new meaning to the term new funeral director.

NThe Greater Chamber of Commerce recently gathered at the Westmoor Country Club to honor the businessperson of the year—Kathy Becker of Becker-Ritter Funeral Homes. The Chamber also honored a number of persons for their commitment to the group.

A great time was had by all as the Elmbrook Rotary Club presented its first annual Festival for the Performing Arts on August 28th. All proceeds from this very successful event will offset the $100,000 pledge Elmbrook has made to the Wilson Center. The Elmbrook Rotary plans to host this event for the next four years to raise their pledged amount.

The Festival received prominent media attention Friday, August 27 with two live interviews on Channel 4 at the Festival grounds, Brookfield's Civic Plaza. On Saturday, approximately 20 professional, student, and community groups performed classical, jazz and musical theater selections from noon to 9:00 p.m., providing great outdoor entertainment.

"We had one hundred percent participation from the Elmbrook Rotary Club in producing this event. Musicians from several of Milwaukee's excellent arts groups performed. SO many people attended and had a really superb time," said Larry D'Attilio, Elmbrook Rotary Club member and event co-chair. The Club is already planning next year's festival. "With experience comes improvement. We have some great ideas on how to expand the Festival for the years to come."

Just after Labor Day weekend, on September 13th, the Brookfield Sunrise Rotary Club held their first golf tournament in a series of five to benefit the Wilson Center. The Sunrise Rotary club has pledged $20,000 to the Wilson Center to be paid over the next five years. Gary Gilmore, one of the event organizers, was very enthusiastic about participation in the tournament. "For the first year we did remarkable well. We had 18 foursomes at Kettle Hills and raised about 25% percent toward our commitment to the Wilson Center. We're ahead of schedule!" The Sunrise Rotary club is glad to be a part of the Wilson Center and believes it is a wonderful and much-needed community-wide project.

Brookfield site adding 24,000 square feet, including larger chapel

Brookfield- Joseph Becker remembers when, as a teenager in the 1950s, he helped to move his grandfather's funeral home business.

Now Becker is making a move of his own in the same line of work—a move to expand at his current site at 14075 W. North Ave.

Becker, the third generation in his family to operate a funeral home in the area, is in the midst of a project that will make Becker Ritter Funeral Home one of largest funeral homes in the state.

Ground was broken last August on a 24,000-square-foot addition to the existing building. It will house a new, 300-seat chapel, with a 3-foot peaked ceiling, indoor balcony and choir loft. The existing chapel can seat up to 150 people.

Becker, who opened the Brookfield site in 1974, said the expansion would make it possible to provide more and better services to families.

The addition also will contain a kitchen for caterers, a rotunda room with a 14-foot dome ceiling, an outdoor courtyard highlighted by a water fountain and an outdoor eating area.

"There is an ambience I think we will be able to achieve in this building," said Becker. "It will be more than brick and mortar. There will be an inspirational and uplifting sense here."

The Becker Ritter Funeral Home earned the Brookfield Development Economic Development Committee's Featured Business Program award in August for showing commitment to employees, investing in training and retraining, profitable growth, innovation, and commitment to the city.

City economic development coordinator Kathleen Cady said the addition shows a commitment to the city and its residents.

"This (expansion) shows that one of our businesses in the community is continuing to grow, and it shows the people in Brookfield that they are committed to providing a needed service," Cady said.

"Becker Ritter really tried to personalize the services," she said. "They try to do things that are different."

The addition is scheduled for completion in August.

Currently, Becker Ritter can conduct two funeral services simultaneously. The addition will provide enough space to conduct as many as five services at the same time.

Becker said the added rooms would give people more options when planning a funeral.  

"Whatever people want, we will have the room and the facilities to provide them with options," said Becker.

Parking also will be expanded from about 60 to 120 stalls.  

City planning director Daniel Ertl said the addition retains the English Tudor-style construction visible in the existing facility.

"They felt that expansion was needed to provide the level of service in terms of funeral service to the next generation of families in Brookfield," Ertl said.

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As the funeral industry consolidates, choosing how and where to mourn loved ones is getting very complicated. Here's the lowdown on the trends, services, prices and pitfalls of dying in Milwaukee.

At the Becker Ritter Funeral Home, it's possible to go in style.  

The plush, richly decorated rooms and hallways of the home's spacious building on North Avenue in Brookfield exude the comfort and wealth of a country club. The scent of flowers fills the air amid surroundings that virtually command a hush. "Added value is what we're really looking at," says owner Joseph Becker.

He takes pride in the fact that his employees embalm and make up bodies so well that families who had assumed their departed relatives would get closed-casket funerals have opted for a customary open-casket viewing. "I got hugs after one recent funeral," Becker recalls. "They didn't think we could make her look the way they wanted her to look."

The funeral home offers other touches as well. Mourners at one service heard a recording of tenor Luciano Pavarotti singing "Funiculi-Funicula" because the deceased woman was described by her relatives as "a very happy person at the end." At another service, instead of conventional prayer cards, Becker distributed memorial bookmark cards for the decedent, an amateur garden photographer. The cards showed the man's picture on one side and a photo he had taken on the other.

The Becker Ritter Funeral Home of Brookfield is proud to announce ground breaking for a 24,000 square foot addition to its present facility on the corner of Lilly (140th) and North Avenue. This will be the largest funeral home in the state of Wisconsin.

This premier location and expanded home will feature a new chapel beautifully designed to be spacious, yet intimate for smaller services. The ceiling peak will be 35 feet high allowing for a balcony and seating to reach well over 200 people. Yet a group of less than 40 people will feel equally at home. The atmosphere of this chapel will create for family and friends a positive, inspirational experience and a sense of peace.

The new addition will have an innovative advancement for the funeral profession. Becker Ritter will also offer a reception area, seating over 100 family and friends for either a complete dinner or lighter selections. Becker Ritter has been awarded the National Funeral Directors Association. "Pursuit of Excellence Award." Our new addition represents a continuing pursuit of excellence and expresses why Becker Ritter is known for giving the best service.

The infamous words "I'm too busy" have historically kept many people from community service and volunteerism.

However, Joe Becker, owner of Becker-Ritter Funeral and Cremation Services, 14075 W. North Ave, would be quick to say that we have more free time available than we might think. "We always say we don't have enough time," he said. "It's amazing what you can do with the time you have. I don't sit around a lot. I enjoy being on the go."

Joe's dedication to being "on the go" has recently been recognized by Sam's Club and Wal-Mart, who award him the company's Sam Walton Business Leader Award at a Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce meeting Oct. 28.

The award is given to one business in Brookfield annually. It expresses the pride of the Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stores and recognizes local business leaders for exceptional commitment to the community, respect for the individual, service to customers and commitment to excellence.

"He (Becker) has always had a focus on family," said Cari Bloom, executive director of the Chamber. "He's very active in the community."

In addition to his business, Becker is a current member of the Brookfield Rotary Club and the American Cancer Society, chairman of the Elmbrook Memorial Health Care Foundation, and board director for the Milwaukee Art Museum West, Equitable Bank and Clearwater Lakes Condo Development.

He has also served on the board of Channel 10/36 public television and is very active in church activities.

Becker has operated his funeral home in Brookfield since 1973. He said his personal history of community service follows a long family tradition of such involvement.

"These things start at home," he said. "My mother was a volunteer. I was thinking about her and she was always was at the forefront of activities. My grandfather, who founded our funeral home in 1901, was active. It didn't start with me."

Becker said he enjoys giving back and caring for the community- a philosophy he partly developed though what is required of him by his funeral home.

"When you're with people at emotional times, it's in your character to be giving," he said. "You realize when you give, it does good things for you."

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TV Auction Co-Chairman
The 1998 Channel 10 Great TV Auction, which airs May 1 to 9, involves 2,000 volunteers! Joe and Kathy have been busy coordinating the event behind the scenes and will also appear on camera. "Joe's done some auctioneering before," Kathy said, "and I'm a fast learner."

A Romantic Start to Busy Times

The two met on a plan four years ago. "And I've been up in the clouds ever since," Joe said. The couple, co-owners of Becker-Ritter Funeral Home, considers their work a ministry and are committed to personalizing funerals. Both are active in the community. Joe's a former president of the Brookfield Rotary Club, sits on the boards of Equitable Bank, Art Museum West and the Haggerty Art Museum at Marquette University. He's also chairman of the Elmbrook Memorial Health Care Foundation. Kathy's chairwoman of the Rotary Club's community service committee and volunteers time at St. Aemilian-Lakeside.

Other Interests

Kathy and Joe, both creative types, like to take long walks, admiring architecture, design and decorating. An antique collector, Kathy's also an exercise buff. "I'm up at 5:30 every morning," she said. "I hardly eat, but I do enjoy reading gourmet magazines." Laughing, she says, "I subscribe. And Joe does all the cooking." Joe says, "We like doing things together, quiet dinners, a movie."

The Becker Ritter Funeral Home has received the Brookfield Economic Development Committee's third quarter Featured Business Program award.  

The committee gives the award four times a year to a business that demonstrates commitment to employees, profitable growth, innovation, commitment to Brookfield and an investment in training.

Becker Funeral Home, established in Milwaukee in 1901, opened another funeral home at North Avenue and Lilly Road in 1974. Ground was broken recently for a 24,000-square-foot expansion of the Brookfield building.

The addition will have more arrangement rooms, a chapel seating more than 200 people and a reception room seating 100 for funeral lunches and dinners.

The committee commended Becker Ritter for its commitment to creative touches and personalized service, noting that it has won the Pursuit of Excellence Award from the National Funeral Directors Association. It also praised Becker Ritter as a firm committed to its employees.

Becker Ritter currently has 22 employees, but with the expansion, that number should grow, said Kathy Becker who, with husband Joe, owns the funeral home. The committee also noted that the firm regularly hires apprentices and each one shadows a trained funeral director.

The committee praised the Becker's for their volunteer efforts. Joe is a current member and past president of the Brookfield Rotary Club, a former board director of the American Cancer Society and current chairman of the Elmbrook Memorial Health Care Foundation.

He serves on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Art Museum West, Equitable Bank and the Clearwater Lakes Condominiums.

Kathy is a member of the Elmbrook Rotary Club, serving as chairwoman of the Community Service Committee and on the Spikes for Tykes program.

A former participant of Leadership Brookfield, she is a chairwoman of the Architectural Control Committee at Clearwater lakes Condos.

The Becker's are co-chairmen of Elm Grove's Fourth of July festivities and active in their church, St. Mary's of Elm Grove.

The funeral home also is a member of the Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce.

"We're honored," Kathy said. "We are very committed to the city of Brookfield and have put a lot of effort and energy into giving the best service to our families."

Joe said the addition with the banquet area is innovative. Perhaps only one other funeral home in the state has these facilities.

"We see the award as representing the recognition of our giving back to the community that supports us," he said.

The economic Development Committee has been giving the Featured Business Program award since December 1993.

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