In 1988, Robert and Elaine Van Staalduinen - a young couple in their late 20s with 3 kids in tow - purchased a piece of land that contained an old farmhouse, lots of trees, and a white structure that those who grew up in the area will recall as "The Barn". On this piece of land, Bob and Elaine envisioned building a place of comfort people could turn to during the most difficult times of their lives.
Robert, being a son of a minister, spent most of his childhood moving across Canada and the U.S. This upbringing instilled in him both an understanding of how to care for people, and a desire to establish himself as part of a community. He attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he met Elaine. Elaine's family were Chicagoans for generations, and soon Bob and Elaine found themselves married and living in an apartment above a funeral home in the Chicago Lawn community. A few years later, another move to the west suburbs had them dreaming of providing the kind of care they had come to learn in that first apartment for this new community of people. Knollcrest would serve both their local community and those from their faith and heritage communities. They chose the name "Knollcrest" because the property they found was located adjacent to the Knolls Park and Congress Knolls neighborhood of Lombard, and their fellow Calvin Alumni would easily recognize their campus's name.
They designed Knollcrest to have a comfortable, accessible atmosphere. All the public spaces are on one level for ease of access. The furniture is arranged to promote conversations- more like a living room than a church chapel. The lounge was designed so that families could care for themselves, even while greeting their guests.
In addition, Bob and Elaine included a family apartment above the funeral home, where they lived with their children, who eventually went from numbering 3 to 5. This allowed them to provide the kind of comfort and care for their community that they had envisioned: a life prioritized by service to others. And even though they have since moved from the apartment, those who have taken their place have understood their role as caretakers and caregivers.
Over the years, the land around Knollcrest developed from a quiet, country setting to a dense suburbia. As more and more people moved into the area, more and more people joined the Knollcrest Staff, including 2 of Bob’s 5 children, Holly Stammis, who works in the office, and Joshua, who achieved his professional license as Licensed Embalmer and Funeral Director.
What had started as a young couple working hard to care for their family alongside their business grew to include more families joining their family in the mission to serve. At Knollcrest's 25th anniversary party on March 17, 2014, Bob and Elaine were honored to host over 30 people who were delighted to be a part of the Knollcrest Family. Today, Knollcrest is proud to continue serving Lombard and the surrounding area.
“This isn't merely a funeral home; this is our home. Our family raised our children here. Our parents lived here. And to this day, some part of our family continues to live here. If we have earned the honor and privilege of caring for your loved one, know that we understand that your decision to place that confidence in us is one we take very, very seriously. And we are grateful for the opportunity to serve you in your time of need."
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