In 1889 C. Neuendorf and his son, C.E., began a new furniture and undertaking business in the site of the former old Methodist Church on Biddle Avenue and Oak Street.
In 1900 Ralph Nixon, then six years old and a neighbor to the Neuendorf business, begins to help with everyday duties. These chores involved taking care of the team of black horses that was used to pull the hearse in elegant funeral processions of this period. Mr. Nixon began working with Mr. Neuendorf as an apprentice until he earned his embalmer’s license in 1922. At this time he became a partner in the furniture and funeral business owned by Mr. Neuendorf until he bought Mr. Neuendorf’s business on October 8, 1923 and establishes his business as “Nixon, Undertaker and Furniture.”
With the evolution of the funeral industry, Mr. Nixon sells the furniture store at Biddle and Elm in 1927 and concentrates solely on the funeral and ambulance business. At this time he purchases a home at the corner of Biddle and Vinewood for a new funeral home. This gray, two-story structure was built as a private residence about ten years before and it becomes one of only a few buildings in our area that are used for funerals. At this time, most funeral services were conducted from the family home or churches. The funeral business became a family business as Mr. Nixon’s younger brother, Charles, opens his own funeral business in Lincoln Park a few years later.
Mr. Nixon took the existing funeral home and turned it into his private residence and opened a new French Provincial Funeral Home on April 17, 1949. To make room for the new funeral home, Mr. Nixon moved the existing structure 60 feet to the north to accommodate the new building. In 1950, Donald R. Burd finishes serving his WWII duty in the US Navy and returns home to Detroit to marry Marian Duggan. After their first daughter is born, the Burd family moves to Wyandotte and Mr. Burd becomes an employee of the H.F. Thon Funeral Home.
Unexpectedly on June 5, 1962, Ralph Nixon passed away at the age of 67. Having been a lifelong resident of Wyandotte, Mr. Nixon left a lasting impression on the community as a trendsetter and respected businessman. The partners of the H.F. Thon Funeral Home, Trevor Herrick, William Keller, and Donald R. Burd, acquired the Nixon Funeral Home from his estate on January 29, 1963. Mr. Burd, the youngest partner, was selected to become the manager of the Nixon operation.
Mr. Burd’s daughters, Linda Burd-Berman, Christine Burd, and Veronica Burd have all participated in the daily operations of the funeral homes. Beginning in 1985 and continuing for the next six years, the R.J. Nixon funeral Home was completely remodeled by the Burd family. The remodel took place in three phases beginning with the offices and hallway, which included a new lobby fireplace and mantle. The second phase was with the the formal chapel that included a new family seating area. Lastly, the viewing rooms were completed with new furniture and a dividing wall. The Burd family was able to retain Mr. Nixon’s original floor plan of the funeral home while completely refurbishing and decorating it with an entirely updated appearance. Sadly, on June 29, 1994, Donald H. Knapp, a beloved and long time retired employee of both Ralph Nixon and Burd families passed away at the age of 75. Mr. Knapp was cherished by the staff and clients of the funeral home and is still missed today.
In 1996, Mr. Burd acquired the Wabeek Tea Room and the former Nixon Residence. These adjacent properties were located just north of the funeral home and were purchased from Mrs. Agnes Dunn and her daughter Vivian Doherty, who were wanting to retire from their restaurant business. The Burd family razed the restaurant to make room for a 7,500 square foot addition to the existing funeral home. This expansion provided two new viewing chapels, six offices, a lounge and additional parking. On November 23, 1997, the family and staff of the R.J. Nixon Funeral Home celebrated this expansion and in spirit continued Ralph Nixon’s intention of providing the finest of funeral facilities and service.
Many changes occurred with the coming of 2000, the merchandise area was remodeled to reflect a more modern approach to introducing funeral merchandise to families, as well as the Keepsake Shop was also introduced. This was the first of its kind in the Downriver area. Sadly, on February 8, 2006, Donald Burd passed away and then a year later his wife, Marian Burd also passed on April 3, 2007. Mr. Burd’s daughters Linda Burd Berman and Christine Burd continued the family tradition and took over the management of the R.J. Nixon and H.F. Thon Funeral Homes.
In February 2016, R.J. Nixon and H.F. Thon Funeral Homes were purchased by Molnar 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.