John Molnar Sr. came to the United States of America from Hungary in 1903 and settled in the Detroit area in 1912. Mr. Molnar worked for Cadillac Motor Company, and was one of 6 people instrumental in the creation of the V-8 engine for Cadillac. Molnar opened the Detroit Hungarian Funeral Home, now the John Molnar Funeral Home, in 1923. The funeral home began in his home until relocating across the street to its Delray location at 8632 Dearborn Avenue, in 1936. He had a very strong work ethic and believed that you never stop learning, a trait that has been carried on with all the Molnar Family. Mr. Molnar was an advocate for giving back to the community and donating to many organizations. The charity that he was most fond of was the Catholic Orphanage Children’s Home without Parents.
John Molnar Sr. had three children, his middle child, John F. Molnar, worked as a master patternmaker and also was the owner of Harvard Pattern Works. With his father’s encouragement, John F. Molnar went back to school and received his funeral director’s license on January 20, 1950. The second generation of the John Molnar Funeral Home began with the addition of John F. Molnar to help run the family business. Unfortunately this pairing of father and son was short lived with both of them passing away in 1950, father due to leukemia, and son after a brief illness.
At the time, Margaret E. Molnar, wife of the late John F. Molnar, having to provide for her young son's future, gave up her business as a beauty operator to continue on the legacy of the John Molnar Funeral Home. Mrs. Molnar overcame many adversities operating the funeral home as a non-licensed funeral service practioner. With great pride in 1969, Mrs. Molnar’s dream was fulfilled as her son, John S. Molnar, began the third generation of the John Molnar Funeral Homes by joining her in the day-to-day operations of the funeral home.
With a vision for the future and a great shift in population out of the Delray area, mother and son made a heartfelt decision to expand their business into the Downriver area. They purchased the Central Baptist Church, in Southgate, and conducted a year-long renovation, turning it into a state-of-the-art funeral home. September 30, 1971, was a monumental day for the Molnar Family, as it marked the birth of John and Helen Molnar’s daughter, Angela, and began the grand
opening weekend of the Southgate Funeral Home. From this point, The Molnar family's reputation grew as they became involved in the Downriver area. From starting the funeral home in a predominately Hungarian community, they earned the respect of their new culturally diverse community.
Mrs. Molnar continued with the daily operations until 1979 when the Delray Chapel was closed. John S. Molnar took over the day-to-day operation of the funeral home and Margaret went into semi-retirement. On August 21, 1987, Margaret E. Molnar passed away knowing that her vision for her son's future was fulfilled by the evident success of the John Molnar Funeral Home.
In 1993, the fourth generation of the John Molnar Funeral Homes began with the addition of Angela M. Molnar-Ferguson. This same year also brought about the opening of the Brownstown Chapel, one of the most modern and spacious facilities in the Downriver area. The construction of this facility was prompted when John, Helen and Angela saw the continued growth within the Downriver area, and the need to be proactive and expand South into the rapidly developing Brownstown Township. Father and daughter felt the need to interact within their new community by becoming involved in various clubs and organizations in the Brownstown and Woodhaven area. Once again, the Molnar Family feels they have earned the respect of their new community through their continued civic and faith-based involvement.
John, Helen, Angela and her husband Larry, also a licensed funeral director, continued to evolve the funeral home with the changes that were occurring in the industry. They incorporated a gift center within the funeral home, updated their website and added the Treasured Memories Center. Renovations included the interior of the Brownstown and Southgate Chapels, as well as Southgate’s exterior. A second reception area was also added in the Brownstown Chapel to accommodate several families in a private setting.
In February 2016, Angela and her family acquired R.J. Nixon and H.F. Thon Funeral Homes from Linda Burd Berman, Christine Burd Spedding, and Veronica Burd-Hale. It was a strong bond of family values that brought the Burd and Molnar Families together. Linda and Christine continue to have a strong presence in the funeral home as well as the community.
Today, Angela and Larry run the day to day operation of the funeral homes and are also the proud parents of four daughters, Madelyn, Megan, Melanie, and Maranda.
John and Helen have entered into semi-retirement. John continues to be a steady fixture within the funeral homes and he enjoys working along side his daughter and son-in-law to continue to build the funeral homes legacy. Angela takes great pride in knowing that the Molnar Funeral Homes are the only funeral homes in the area that have been operated by the same family for four generations. Perhaps one day the Molnar Legacy will continue into the fifth generation.
In March 2017 the H.F. Thon Funeral Home became The Thon Center. Continuing the H.F. Thon and Burd Families' tradition of serving the community, the newly renovated Thon Center offers a comfortable setting with all of the amenities of an event center while maintaining the historical integrity of the architecture.
The Thon Center is very unique in that it holds one private event at a time whether it be a life celebration, memorial service, funeral service, luncheon or any other event.