Bruce E. Leesman, Owner/President
Bruce grew up in Atlanta, Ill., and graduated from Olympia High School in 1993. He enrolled in Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Ill., in September of 1994 and graduated in September of 1995.
Bruce joined the staff at Dashner-Strauss Funeral Homes in 1995 as an apprentice funeral director and embalmer. After completing his apprenticeship, Bruce was hired full time and served in that capacity until 2001 when he was promoted to manager of the funeral homes. Bruce purchased the business from Kermit and Suzanne Mueller in 2004.
Bruce is a member of the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, the Egyptian Funeral Directors Association, Columbia Masonic Lodge # 474 A. F & A.M. were he served as Worshipful Master in 2011, former trustee for the Dupo Fire Protection District serving from 2007-2012 and was inducted into the Dupo Walk of Honor in 2012 as an outstanding community leader.
Greg A. Leesman, Owner/Vice President
Greg grew up in Atlanta, Ill., and graduated from Olympia High School in 1997. He received an Associate Degree in Mortuary Science from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Ill. in 2000.
Greg joined Dashner-Strauss Funeral Homes to work along with his brother, Bruce in 2001. Greg is a member of the Illinois Funeral Directors Association and Egyptian Funeral Directors Association.
He married his wife, Kelli in 2007, they reside in Waterloo, Ill., along with his step-son Nick.
When he isn't working he enjoys spending time with his family and their dogs, Rocky & Lexi. He is a huge St. Louis Cardinals and Fighting Illini fan.
Gary L. Edwards, September 8, 1957 - January 12, 2019
Gary was a member of the First Congregational Church in Dupo, joining in 1982. He held the positions of President, Trustee and he held the position of Treasurer for 14 years. Gary also belonged to the DuKare Food Pantry since its inception in 1987 where he held the positions of President, Clerk and Treasurer. Gary worked in the Funeral Service Industry since 1993.
Gary passed away suddenly on January 12, 2019. He impacted everyone's lives more than he ever knew with his upbeat personality and willingness to always help. Gary's dedication to his church, DuKare, his family, co-workers and colleagues in the Funeral Profession and he will never be forgotten.
To honor and celebrate the life of our co-worker, teammate and friend, Gary's bio will continue to remain on our website.
Gary grew up in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and moved to Dupo, Illinois in 1970. He graduated from Dupo High School in 1975.
He has been a member at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Dupo since 1982. In that time he has held the positions of Trustee, President and now Treasurer, a position he continues to hold for the past 11 years.
He also has belonged to the Du-Kare Food Pantry since 1987. He has held the positions of Clerk, President and Treasurer, which he still holds.
He has worked in the Funeral Service Industry since 1993.
Jim Jarvis, Pre-Need Professional/After Care Specialist
Jim is a lifelong resident of the Dupo/East Carondelet area and a 1984 graduate of Dupo High School. He attended William Jewell College on a football scholarship. After working for over 25 years in the regular business sector, he joined the Funeral/Cemetery industry in 2014.
Jim is a licensed insurance agent and also has his cemetery license through the State of Illinois. He has also been a nationally certified High School coach since 1991 through ACEP. He continues to be a volunteer for the Community Outreach Program at Touchette Regional Hospital.
When he isn't working he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family including watching their Hockey, Cheerleading and Soccer events.
Bob Curtis, Funeral Director/Embalmer
Bob joined our staff on November 1, 2016, and is a certified cremator operator trained through Matthews Cremations Division.
Bob received his AAS Degree from St. Louis Community College in mortuary science.
Prior to entering funeral service, Bob served 8 years active duty in the United States Marine Corps where he was stationed in San Diego, Los Angeles and Japan. He also worked 3 years as a Corrections Officer with State of Missouri Department of Corrections in Vandalia, Missouri.
Bob grew up in Collinsville, Belleville and Fairmont City, and graduated from Collinsville High School in 1991. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, he returned home and currently resides in Fairmont City, Illinois. In his spare time Bob is an automotive enthusiast, enjoying many different aspects of car culture, and going on adventures with his girlfriend Angi.
Bob is also a member of East Lodge 504, Scottish Rite Masonic Bodies, and the Ainad Shriners of Southern Illinois.
Michael Lawlor, Funeral Director
Mike is a lifelong resident of Columbia, as is his wife Sandy, and their two daughters. He was the owner/operator of Lawlor Funeral Home in Columbia for 39 years. He is a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. He has served the community as City Treasurer, member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and Columbia Unit School District 4 Board member. He enjoys sports of all kinds, as well a good BBQ now and then.
Sandy Lawlor, Funeral Assistant
Sandy was the co-owner of Lawlor Funeral Home with her husband Mike. She is a lifelong resident of Columbia, and a member of St. Paul United Church of Christ. She had worked as a registered nurse for many years before becoming active with the funeral home. She enjoys walking the dog and jogging around Columbia, and raising her two daughters. By the way, she is a 'Kleinschmidt' from home.
Steve Zimmermann, Funeral Director
Steve has been in funeral service since 1972. He is licensed in the State of Illinois as a funeral director and embalmer. He is married to Christie, they have two daughters and a grandson. Steve is a member and past president of the Optimist Club of Belleville, and has been a lifelong member of St. Peter's Cathedral Catholic Church. He enjoys gardening and traveling.
Jett Kennedy, Funeral Assistant
Jett is the daughter of Scott & Lisa Kennedy of Ruma, IL. She is a 2018 graduate of Red Bud High School. She is currently attending Southwestern Illinois College and plans to attend Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, IL. Jett will be working part time at Leesman Funeral Homes while she is attending college and workding towards getting her Funeral Director and Embalming licenses.
Joni K. Ross, Funeral Director Apprentice
Joni K Ross, formerly of Marion, Illinois joined our team as a funeral director and embalmer apprentice on August 11,2018. She currently resides In Waterloo, Illinois with her husband, Darrell and their son, Jace. Joni is a 2008 graduate of Mid Continent University where she earned her bachelors degree in Business Management. After working several years in her family business she decided to go back to school to pursue a bachelors degree in mortuary science and funeral services. She graduated in May 2018 and is currently fulfilling her role as funeral director apprentice. For fun, Joni enjoys traveling and visiting friends and family. Joni is also a licensed cosmetologist in the state of Illinois, and she is able to use her skills of styling hair at the funeral home.
Natalie Cartolano, Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer & Crematory Operator
Natalie grew up in Burbank, Illinois and is a 2009 graduate of Reavis High School. She received her Bachelors in Arts in Cinema and Photography and a Bachelors in Science in Mortuary Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2017. She currently resides in Columbia, Illinois. Natalie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, reading, watching suspense movies, and taking photographs. Natalie is the proud parent of her pet cat, Zell, and her pet gecko, Ragnar. Natalie joined the Leesman Funeral Home staff in the Spring of 2019. She has a true passion of helping others and is a great asset to our team.
Lyle Hill, Funeral Director & Crematory Operator
Lyle Hill of Sparta, Illinois joined the staff at Leesman Funeral Home in the summer of 2019. Lyle has been a licensed funeral director/embalmer since 1973. His father, W. Clell Hill owned and operated a funeral home in Sparta for many years. Lyle recently retired from Herr Funeral Home in Collinsville, Illinois after working there for 30 years. Lyle has two brothers and two daughters. He enjoys fishing, playing golf, and going to St. Louis Cardinal baseball games. He is a member of the First United Presbyterian Church in Collinsville, Illinois, where he has been an Elder and volunteers at the food pantry.