HAZARD – There are only handful of businesses in Perry County that have remained in operation for 100 years or more. In Hazard, none are older than the funeral home bearing the Engle family’s name, and now Hazard’s oldest business is under new ownership.
Wayne Bowling took ownership of the Engle-Bowling Funeral Home on East Main Street on March 1, and while he is the new owner, he is hardly new to the business.
Bowling began his career at the Engle Funeral Home some 20 years ago, making his entry into the business in a temporary summer position. That soon blossomed into a career.
“It was one of those things,” Bowling said. “It developed into a full-time job, and in 1995 I found myself going to mortuary school and pursuing my embalming and funeral director’s license.”
Bowling began that career under the late Mark Engle, who was a third generation owner, and whose grandfather, William Engle, and father, William Engle II, ran the business before him. Their portraits are still hanging in the front office.
The funeral home was eventually sold to the Walker family from Leslie County, from whom Bowling took over the business this year. He said he’s proud to have the business again owned locally in Perry County, and he’s honored to be associated with a name that for decades has been synonymous with the rich history of the business.
“The Engle name in Eastern Kentucky represents excellence in funeral service, and there is a lot of history with this business in Perry County and surrounding counties,” Bowling said. “I just feel honored and humbled to be represented in that, and trying to carry on that tradition.”
William Engle, who also served as mayor of Hazard from 1938 to 1941, started Engle Undertaking and Hardware on Main Street in 1907. At the time, Bowling noted, they fashioned their own caskets. While a few things may have changed since then, Bowling noted that the funeral home has all Perry County staff, including Clayton Church and Joe Grimm, and the business offers a wide range of services.
“We’ve got funerals that fit into every budget in this day’s economy, and our main concern and primary goal is the same as it was in 1907, to treat every family with the utmost respect and dignity,” he said.