Who We Are
Our professional staff has years of experience caring for families from all walks of life. We are leaders in our profession, with dedication to service and professional integrity.
When we sit down with a family, our shared goal is to create a fitting, memorable and affordable service for their loved one. We offer them a wide variety of services and products, as well as a wealth of creative ideas and suggestions. Together, we'll design a memorial or funeral service that suits their needs now, and in the future. Families who come to us know that years from now, they will have deep peace-of-mind because in coming to us, they've done their best to honor their loved one.
“Growing with our community” has been the history of Wilson & Kratzer since its inception.
The business was originally known as Smallwood Parlors when Aubrey Wilson purchased the business and occupied a 25-foot store room on Macdonald Avenue near 8th Street. In 1921 Aubrey Wilson acquired the property at 7th and Bissell and with the investment funds from his partner C.C. Kratzer, well-known automobile dealer in Richmond, the name became Wilson & Kratzer Funeral Home. In 1926 Aubrey Wilson was elected coroner of Contra Costa County.
In an article written by Aubrey Wilson in 1926 he said “The funeral home idea on which our own place of business is built, is the newest idea in the methods of funeral conduct. It is based on the belief that the old fashioned gloomy exterior and interior of a funeral parlor was not in keeping with the best ethics of funeral direction… the modern work of a director is to comfort as well as bury. … if he is to be a success in this difficult task, the whole of his establishment must minister to the desired end. With these ends in view the Wilson & Kratzer funeral homes embodies in its exterior and interior an atmosphere of home rather than of office or shop. When you enter our facilities you are immediately struck by the quiet dignity of our establishments.”
In 1930 Aubrey Wilson acquired sole ownership. In 1943, he relinquished the reins of management and placed them in the experienced and efficient hands of his son Francis L. Wilson along with the co-partnership with his sister Mrs. Audra Brown. Francis Wilson was also the Deputy Coroner of Contra Costa County from 1942 to 1965.
The next mortuary that was built was at 616 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. Francis L. Wilson, son of the owner, assumed charge of the El Cerrito mortuary.
April 28, 1950 the Mission Bells Chapel was opened on San Pablo Avenue in San Pablo as a combination wedding and funeral service facility with over 10,000 sq. ft. The exterior of the chapel is California redwood. The interior of the new chapel is made of rough-sawed beams that combines early California designs of the missions with 1950s architectural styles. The Mission Bells Chapel was designed by local architect Donald L. Hardison and the contractor was George Tandy and Son who also built Richmond Union High School and more.
In 1957 the new Civic Center Chapel was completed. Both the Mission Bells Chapel and the Civic Center Chapel were designed to be both funeral and wedding chapels. It was designed by the Richmond Architect Donald L. Hardison and his associates Harry B. Clausen and S. Richard Komatsu and built by Crocker Tandy, General Contractors (James S. Crocker, Dair A. Tandy and Wm. J. Wheatley), decorated by Rouse & Boivie. The original structure had more than 23,000 sq. ft. and 20 rooms. Civic Center Chapel has two chapels, the larger, the north chapel, has a solarium of plants and lighted with especially made stained glass windows. Each chapel has an L-shaped floor plan, the shorter arm of the “L” providing private seating for family members. The visiting rooms were (and are still) named, the Mahogany Room, the Walnut Room, and the Laurel Room, each with its own characteristics. In 1961, Rolling Hills Memorial Park, a public, non-sectarian cemetery, crematory and mausoleum was established by the Wilson's.
Our Valued Staff
Mr. Joesph Kyle Newkirk, Operations Manager/Funeral Director / Embalmer
Joe was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. After serving his country in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, he was honorably discharged in 1972 and moved to California. He started working with Wells Fargo Bank while attending Laney College to obtain his AA in Management & Supervision, graduating in 1979. He continued his career with Wells Fargo Bank for 23 years in Management. In 1993, he decided to switch his career path and began attending the San Francisco School of Mortuary Science and graduated in 1994 with his AA degree. He has been with Wilson & Kratzer Mortuaries since 1993 and now holds the position of Operations Manager/ Funeral Director / Embalmer, overseeing the daily activities for the three locations: Civic Center Chapel, Chapel of the Mission Bells & Hosselkus Chapel.
Joe has been married for 24 years. He and his wife, Anita, raised their four children in the Richmond / El Sobrante area and plan on retiring someday back in Florida. For the meantime, Joe takes great pride in serving the community he has become well known “as the man to see” at Wilson & Kratzer Mortuary.
Mrs. Barbara Rosales, Funeral Director
Barbara joined Wilson & Kratzer Mortuaries March 1, 1999 after working for twenty-two years in the financial field. She became a licensed funeral director in July 1999. In 2001, Barbara saw the need and became a Notary Public.
In 2008, she received her pre-need insurance license and looks forward to helping families understand the need to have their funeral arrangements in order. She is the former secretary for the San Pablo Chamber of Commerce, and an advocate for the improvement of relations between the public and the death care industry.
Ms. Akim Simpson, Ambassador
After graduation in 2006 from Mortuary College, Akim served her internship at Wilson & Kratzer’s Connelly and Taylor Chapel and served her apprenticeship at Wilson & Kratzer’s Civic Center Chapel.
Akim said “I love to serve and help the community. Customer satisfaction is what motivates me to strive to be the best. I am proud to be part of a great tem of co-workers and under the leadership of great management, where we all work hard to please the families we serve.
Mrs. Judy Lee, Accounting Administrator
Judy is the Accounting Administrator for all of the West County Wilson & Kratzer Mortuaries. In addition to her accounting work, she also creates our promotional advertisements, trains staff, handles the web-site, and does a wide variety of work as needed including working in the prep-room and on funerals.
In addition to her dedication to her family, she is also dedicated to community service. She is the elected Treasure for the City of Pinole, Director of Judson Homes, Senior and Disabled Housing Project, a member of the San Pablo Chamber of Commerce and the Pinole Historical Society. She has been an active member of MacArthur Baptist Church in San Pablo since 1960 and has served on the boards of many organizations including: Pinole Crime Prevention, Soroptomist International, Discovery Center, Pinole Friendship Commission, and many more.
Mr. Joel Vincent Garland, Ambassador /Funeral Assistant
In 1979, Joel began working as a Life Insurance Agent, and was a Sales Manager for United Insurance Company of America.
Joel started working for Wilson & Kratzer Mortuaries in January of 2007 as an Ambassador/Funeral Assistant and plans to continue working for Wilson & Kratzer long after retiring from the Insurance field.
Joel was born in Tallulah, Louisiana, and moved to Oakland, California in 1955. He is a graduate of Castlemont High (class of 1967) and Merritt Jr. College (class of 1970). He also spent one year at the University of California, Berkeley.
Mrs. Marcia Muwwakkil-Gatlin, Ambassador /Funeral Assistant
Marcia, a wife, mother of three and grandmother of six, entered the work force in 1981. Her work experience included management in retail, food service and hotel. She is also an Independent Beauty Consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics.
After the loss of her grandson, daughter and mother and being a cancer survivor, she felt she had the capacity to work in the mortuary service field at Wilson & Kratzer.In her spare time, she enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling and social event coordinating.
Marcia, a resident of San Pablo, California, grew up in the nation's capitol of Washington, D.C., moving to California in 1969
Mrs. Gwen Rezentes, Ambassador /Funeral Assistant
Gwen is a resident of Pinole. She was born and raised in the Richmond / San Pablo area. She has been “on-call” with Wilson & Kratzer since 1998. She is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Pinole where she serves as a “Eucharistic Minister” and is a member of the “Cursillo Community”. Before coming to Wilson & Kratzer, she managed a local Pediatric Practice for eighteen years and was then a Customer Service Supervisor for a local Medical Corporation. She is currently serving as the Captain of her Pinole Neighborhood Watch program.
Lisa Martinez Torres, Administrative Assistant
Lisa began working with Wilson & Kratzer Mortuaries in 1998 part-time assisting the preneed department with miscellaneous items and assisting at the Chapel of the Mission Bells location. It wasn’t too long after that she was offered a fulltime position and has been with the company now for ten years. Lisa is the lead administrative assistant at the Chapel of the Mission Bells and takes great pride in all that she does. If she’s not too busy handling doctors, she’s assisting in the Chapel. Many families remark on her kind and thoughtful assistance.
Lisa was born and raised in the Bay Area and she graduated high school in 1980 and raised her four children, now grown and ranging in ages from twenty-eight to twenty. She is also the proud grandmother of three boys ages seven to four. In 1998, after the death of a very close family friend, she and her husband, Joe, became the guardians of a seven year old boy whom they have continued to raise as their own. He is now almost seventeen. Married to her husband for twenty-three years, they enjoy taking weekend drives and spending time with each other when they are
not busy spoiling their grandchildren.
James McDaniel, Managing Partner
Jay was born in Anchorage, Alaska. He served his country in the United States Navy from 1983 to 1987 before choosing his career in the funeral industry. Jay has been a funeral director and embalmer for over 23 years and enjoys serving his community in these capacities. Immediately following his graduation from the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, he and his wife Jacquie moved their family to northern California in order for him to pursue his career. In 2005, Jay and his family moved to the East Coast where he worked as an Area Director of Operations in Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Martinsburg, West Virginia until his recent return to California and the Richmond area. Although his time in Richmond has been short, he truly feels at home in this community. Jay currectly serves as the Managing Partner for Wilson and Kratzer Mortuaries, where he oversees the daily operations for the three locations: Civic Center Chapel, Richmond, Chapel of the Mission Bells, San Pablo and Hosselkus Chapel, Crockett.
Jay has been married for 26 years. He and his wife, Jacquie have two adult children, Jakob and Jascha. Jakob is currently serving in the United States Army as an Arabic Linguist, stationed in Texas. Jascha recently followed her father to Northern California where she is working as an Ambassador at Connolly & Taylor, Martinez, Higgins, Antioch and Quimet in Concord. Jay is extremely pleased with his new position as the Managing Partner of Wilson and Kratzer Mortuaries and looks forward to helping it continue to be the primary funeral home provider in the West Contra Costa area.
Taryn L. Cyr, Funeral Director/Emblamer
Taryn is a licensed funeral director and embalmer and has been with Wilson & Kratzer since March, 2012. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry in 2007 and her Associate's Degree in Mortuary Science in 2009. She is also a notary public and fluent in Spanish. In her spare time you can find her at the YMCA in Richmond, an Oakland A's game, or in her garden hanging out with her fiance and puppy Troll. Taryn was born and raised in Richmond and graduated from Pinole Valley High and that is why she truly enjoys serving and assisting people in their time of need in the Richmond Community.