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An ending of an era; Funk's supply closing after decades of service

Staff writer

A Hillsboro heating and air conditioning shop that got its start in a garage on Birch St. in 1969 and eventually landed in the 200 block of N. Main St. will write its final chapter when it is sold at auction Saturday.

Throughout the decades, Funk’s Supply offered services outside of those they ended with. The business specialized in refrigeration but also sold Amana appliances. If your TV broke, that, too, could be taken to Funk’s Supply for repair.

The family behind Funk’s has changed just as the business has. Four generations played a role in the business.

Lester and Donna Funk made the tough decision to close the business after Lester suffered an injury last August, leaving it impossible for him to continue to run the business, as he had since 2008. He ruptured a quad and then broke a rib.

“He’s had a tough time,” Donna said.

Lester’s brother Larry played a role in the shop as well, until a car accident affected his memory, making it difficult to work. Larry died in 2014, and the business moved to Lester and Donna.

They relied heavily on support from their son Stuart, daughter Nicci Rivera, and their families.

“I was expected to get out the soonest since I’m the oldest, but I got stuck with it,” Lester said.

Although Lester’s injury was the final straw, decreasing business had made it increasingly harder to make ends meet.

“We had a lot of competition,” Donna said. “But we did the best we could. There were a lot of customers that didn’t want us to close.”

Funk’s Supply’s doors have been closed since Lester’s injuries, but has remained a family affair.

“We’ve got family to help us out,” Lester said. “The kids have been helping get ready for the sale.”

The ending may not be picturesque, but the business has made an impact on the community nonetheless.

“It wasn’t only a business; it was a place where customers and friends would come in just to see how everybody was doing. They’d stay a while and just chit-chat,” Rivera said.

Donna agrees. Even on her busiest days she would always make a point to catch up with customers.

“I loved it,” she said. “They would come and start talking. I’d sit and listen. If the phone would ring, I’d answer it and then go back to listening. They had a smile on their face when they left. That’s all that matters.”

All the Funks involved in making the business a success made it a priority to keep it a family business - - not just because family members ran it, but also because customers became family.

“We learned they really became like family and how we could pray for them,” said Donna. “We wanted them to go back home and say that this was a family business.”

The Funks never hesitated to go the extra mile to help customers when they could.

“It was always a place that if you needed the help and didn’t have the money to pay right away, they were always trustful and would do the work no matter what,” Rivera said. “They were always out there helping others and knowing that one day they would help them in return.”

Donna said they felt helping people out in their time of need was just the right thing to do.

“We just eventually shut some of the accounts that couldn’t pay down,” she said. “We thought ‘the good Lord is going to take care of us’ and he really has.”

Rivera credits her relationship with others and work ethic to growing up around Funk’s Supply.

“Watching my mom and dad is where I got my work ethic and hospitality, and just overall how to treat people,” she said.

Donna never let anyone leave the shop without a hug and still hugs everyone she meets

“The Lord just put it on my mind and on my heart how much love God can spread around everywhere, so I hug,” she said.

After decades of transitions, blood, sweat, and tears, Lester and Donna have many plans for retirement.

The couple is active at First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro. They have two Shetland ponies, three other horses, and a donkey that will keep them busy - - along with spending more time with family.

“Seventy-three is a little older than I thought I’d be when I walk out of here,” Lester said. “But I was just trying to make a living. I appreciate everyone’s business and all the business they did with me.”

Last modified June 21, 2018

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