Yampa Valley Funeral Home opens in new, larger location | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Funeral Home opens in new, larger location

Blythe Terrell

Leah Locke hopes the new Yampa Valley Funeral Home inspires a feeling of warmth to the people it serves.

Sunlight drips through windows in the chapel, where the high, angled ceiling, balcony and chandelier suggest a sanctuary. The new building on Elk River Road includes beige walls, iron and wood fixtures, slate tile and neutral carpet.

"Most people that walk in here, generally, they say it feels so good in here, warm, comforting," Locke said.

Leah and Mitch Locke moved their business from 2095 Curve Court to the new location in mid-February. Mitch Locke has owned Steamboat Springs' only funeral home for about five years, Leah said. The two have been married for almost three.

They sold the old building in 2007 with plans to build a new location, Leah Locke said.

"We just wanted to offer families more, and with the other place, we couldn't do that," she said.

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The Lockes broke ground on the 5,500-square-foot building in August, Leah Locke said. The size is more than double the 2,520 square feet listed by the Routt County Assessor's Office for the old funeral home building. They sold that to Dawes Family LLLP and MFLP Steamboat LLLP for $1.15 million in June 2007, according to county records.

Mountain Valley Bank has financed the project. Locke declined to provide its cost.

The new Yampa Valley Funeral Home can hold 160 to 180 people for memorial services, Leah Locke said. The old location could hold about 70.

The new home features upgrades such as a patio, commercial restrooms, a larger body preparation room and flat-screen TVs in the chapel for memorials. It's more appealing for families who want to plan services, Leah Locke said.

"I think people walked into the old one and would say, 'I don't like this place,' so a lot of people would go to the community center," she said.

She said the funeral home has seen some impacts from the recession, but she said they work with all families to provide services.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said he was impressed with how the morticians conducted their business and served the community.

"They are a very energetic, neat young couple, very compassionate, and do a great job at dealing with the funeral business," Ryg said.

He has helped the Lockes with their business when they want to leave town — the two run everything and have no employees — and has worked with them in other capacities. Yampa Valley Funeral Home contracts with the county to transport autopsy cases to Jefferson County, Ryg said.

He said he was impressed with the new building and pleased with the Lockes' conduct.

"Most of the time, and there are exceptions when somebody has been dying for a while, it's a shock, and they're looking for help and comfort and just somebody to walk them through the process," Ryg said, "and Mitch and Leah are kind of good at walking them through the process and questions that need to be answered and just helping them with a difficult time."

Leah Locke said she and her husband were just happy to finally be in their new building, which she said has "a different spirit" from the previous location.

Moon Hill Design designed the building, and TCD was the contractor. Locke said she and her husband were pleased with the work of both.

"It's a beautiful building," she said. "We love it."

Old spot's future

The current owners of the Curve Court site could not be reached Friday. The building is, however, seeing some use from Steamboat's Har Mishpacha Jewish congregation. The group was scheduled to hold a Shabbat service there Friday evening and has visited a couple of times.

Congregation President Bert Halberstadt said his group, which consists of about 68 families, did not have a permanent location and was trying out the spot.

"It is essentially an introduction, primarily to the congregation but also to the community, about a potential location," Halberstadt said.

The congregation has existed for about 25 years, he said. Its services are hosted by members, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and at the Steamboat Christian Center.

Halberstadt said he wasn't sure what the congregation, its building committee and its board would decide but that it looked "promising." The congregation was getting acquainted with the building and evaluating features such as its kitchen and the available space, he said.

"What we're going to do is dependent on what our congregation thinks is suitable for the community," Halberstadt said.

New location

Yampa Valley Funeral Home’s new location is at 2105 Taxi Way, along Routt County Road 129 just north of Steamboat Springs. The phone number is still 879-1494.