Construction of an addition on the south side of Sharp Funeral Home, 226 W. Eighth St., will begin this month, and completion is expected in July. Kyle Atkinson is president and owner of the funeral home with Sheppard Smith. (Photos by Larry Devine)
Construction of an addition on the south side of Sharp Funeral Home, 226 W. Eighth St., will begin this month, and completion is expected in July. Kyle Atkinson is president and owner of the funeral home with Sheppard Smith. (Photos by Larry Devine)

May 21, 2019

Construction of an addition that will encompass a new narthex and various improvements at Sharp Funeral Home is expected to begin later this month and be completed in early July.

The project dovetails with Sharp’s acquisition of Ohde Twit Funeral Home in Carroll, which became official on April 22.

The 20-by-50-foot addition on the south side of Sharp Funeral Home, 226 W. Eighth St., will include a large narthex, handicap-accessibility features and two restrooms.

The narthex will allow the funeral home to accommodate approximately an additional 200 guests without having to wait outside. The current chapel seats approximately 200 to 225 people, and the funeral home also has a reception area where food and refreshments can be served.

Sharp Funeral Home is owned by Kyle Atkinson and Sheppard Smith, and Atkinson, who’s also president of the business, said one of the best features of the new addition is improved handicap accessibility.

“Those who use a wheelchair or those who have difficulty walking will be able to park within 5 or 6 feet of the front door,” he said. “The ease of access to our building will be second to none. That’s what we want to accomplish. We want to make it easy for people to get into our building.”

The Carroll Board of Adjustment recently approved plans for the project. Contractor is Schapman Construction of Carroll.

“It’s going to give our building (last remodeled in 2014) a more-modern look,” Atkinson said. “The changes will tie into our current lobby. That will all transition nicely. The south will be all windows. It will update our building, but most importantly it will accommodate larger visitations without people having to wait outdoors.”

During construction, families with funerals arranged by Sharp will have the option of holding visitation at Ohde Twit, 503 E. First St., or the church where services will be conducted.

With the acquisition of Ohde Twit, Atkinson said, Sharp will honor any pre-arranged contracts with that funeral home.

Atkinson said the Ohde Twit facility eventually will likely be closed.

“Obviously that’s a difficult decision to make,” he said. “First and foremost, we’re a service business. It’s not really important which building we operate out of, but it’s the service that we offer. It’s difficult to be in two buildings at once.

“We spent countless time wondering which building we could best operate out of, and this one makes the most sense. It’s set up better for ease of access into the building, and the chapel is much larger. There were some tough decisions to make, but we ultimately want to do what’s in the best interest of our client families, and this is what makes sense.”

Alison Ohde River had been owner and funeral director at Ohde Twit since 2007. River said in a recent ad in the Times Herald that Ohde Funeral Home will continue to operate at its locations in Manning, Manilla, Coon Rapids, Bayard and Kimballton/Elk Horn, and will “stand ready to serve families with the same care and professionalism as we have for the past 114 years.”

Atkinson purchased Sharp Funeral Home, with locations in Carroll and Breda, from Tom Schapman and Don Masching in November 2010.

“In the last seven or eight years, we’ve had numerous opportunities to expand and acquire funeral businesses,” Atkinson said.

A number of those businesses were outside the Carroll area.

“So it made sense that if we were going to expand, just stay here local,” Atkinson said. “We really want to concentrate first and foremost on Carroll and the smaller surrounding communities. So it just made sense for us to stay right here.”

Atkinson came to Sharp Funeral Home as a funeral director in February 2008. He received his bachelor’s degree in mortuary science from the Cincinnati (Ohio) College of Mortuary Science in 2006 and interned at Hogan-Breemer-Moore Colonial Chapels in Mason City.

A native of Sheffield, he graduated from Sheffield-Chapin/Meservey-Thornton High School (now West Fork) in 2000.

“I come from a farm family. I still enjoy farming, going back and sitting in the tractor or combine and helping out in the spring and fall when time allows,” Atkinson said. “I really found an interest in mortuary science in high school. I did some job-shadowing with a local funeral home. Funeral service wasn’t in the family history, but I chose funeral service.”

Atkinson’s brother and dad farm together, but he said he’s glad he chose his career path.

“I wouldn’t change what I do for anything. I thoroughly enjoy my job,” he said. “I enjoy helping people.”

He added, “There’s no greater reward or greater sense of satisfaction than helping people out in one of the most difficult times of their lives. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what drives me to continue to work hard and serve families with the utmost care, compassion and dignity that they’ve come to expect not only of Sharp’s, but now also of the Twit family as well.”

Atkinson and his wife, Piper (Kanne), a 2005 Kuemper Catholic High School graduate who’s an insurance agent with Insurance Station, have a daughter, Lakelyn, 2, and are expecting a new baby in November. They are members of St. John Paul II Catholic Parish-Holy Spirit Church in Carroll.

Atkinson has volunteered for St. Anthony Regional Hospital, serving on the St. Anthony Golf Classic Committee and Pastoral Care Campaign Committee. He’s currently on the fundraising committee for the hospital’s new cancer care center, which began construction with a groundbreaking was held last month.

Atkinson’s business partner, Sheppard Smith, came to Sharp in 2013. He is a native of Algona, where he graduated from Bishop Garrigan High School in 2009. He received an associate of science degree from Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville in 2011. Smith graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Illinois, in 2012. At Worsham, he was the recipient of the Funeral Director Services Association Award for achieving the highest average in funeral directing and business law. Sheppard also was featured in the September 2012 issue of American Funeral Director magazine’s “Ones to Watch,” an article featuring five of the top mortuary science students in the country. He received his funeral director’s license in 2013.

Smith is a member of St. Bernard Catholic Parish in Breda and the Knights of Columbus. His wife, Katie (Schelle), graduated from Kuemper in 2008 and is a physical-therapist assistant at St. Anthony.

Funeral assistants at Sharp are Don Masching, Ron Hannasch, Jim Higgins and Tom Louis.

The construction project at Sharp marks a new chapter in the funeral home’s history. F.L. “Barney” Sharp began the Sharp Funeral Home in 1940 when he moved from Sioux City and purchased a Victorian-styled home at the corner of Eighth and Carroll streets. That home was demolished in 1959, and the current Sharp Funeral Home was built. Tom Schapman joined the firm in 1965, and Masching in 1966. Sharp Funeral Home at Breda was built in 1966.

The Twit family also wrote its own chapter in Carroll’s funeral-home history. Joe Twit began his business in Carroll in 1954 by purchasing Olerich Funeral Home. He sold the funeral home to his son Tom in 1976. Joe continued to work with Tom in the business until shortly before he passed away in 2007. He held a funeral director’s license for 67 years. The business became Ohde Twit Funeral Home in the fall of 2007.