Hungarian immigrant Henry B. Berger established H.B. Berger Livery and Undertaking Company in 1896 with the $13 that remained after a disastrous tornado destroyed his produce business and robbed him of his savings.
Berger’s business of providing carriages and funeral services to the growing Jewish community proved so successful that he expanded and relocated it twice in its first decade of existence. Berger finally settled in St. Louis’s Central West End, changing the business’s name to Berger Memorial Chapel.
Prior to his retirement in 1923, Berger helped organize the first funeral directors’ association of St. Louis, which became the St. Louis Funeral Directors Association. He remained an active member until his retirement.
Herbert I. Berger succeeded his father upon his retirement in 1923. During his tenure, Herbert worked to update and modernize the location and oversaw the construction of a state-of-the art chapel. Herbert’s goal was to create a comfortable, yet stately, location for families to gather for funeral services. Herbert was a founder and the first president of The Jewish Funeral Directors of America, an organization committed to assisting people of the Jewish faith arrange meaningful and affordable funerals in the Jewish tradition.
In 1948, Marvin A. Stein, the son of Herbert’s sister and grandson of Henry, acquired the business and operated Berger Memorial Chapel until his death in 1970. Marvin was a strong advocate of community service and held leadership positions at many Jewish organizations throughout the area. He also served as president of The Jewish Funeral Directors of America.
Continuing the tradition of family management, Richard Stein, Marvin’s son and the great-grandson of our founder, serves as president of Berger Memorial Chapel. Richard embodies the core values established by his predecessors: providing compassionate, professional care to the families we serve and a tireless dedication to the community where we live and work. Richard has been involved in a variety of leadership positions in the St. Louis area and was the third generation in his family to serve as president of The Jewish Funeral Directors of America.
As Berger Memorial Chapel enters its fifth generation of family leadership, Richard looks forward to working with his daughter, Emily Stein MacDonald, to extend the legacy and tradition of the family operated business.