Here’s how Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory combines authentic family values with compassionate after-life care

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Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory got its start in 1875 as Akron’s first funeral home, under the leadership of Civil War veteran Captain George Billow. Today, his legacy continues with a dedicated family and staff members providing the community with funeral services. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Kat Pestian, Contributing Writer

As the oldest business in Akron and Summit County, six generations of family owners have set the national industry standards.

Not for tires or rubber, but for funerals.

Today’s Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory got its start in 1875 as Akron’s first funeral home, under the leadership of Civil War veteran Captain George Billow. (You’ll find the Captain’s portrait greeting visitors to the family’s Fairlawn and Cuyahoga Falls chapels.)

“We take pride in our rich history, thanks to the trust and loyalty of Akron families,” shares Chip Billow, the fifth-generation owner of Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory.

“Akron is our home and we feel a tremendous responsibility to serve this area with the same care my father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather did before us.”

The Billow family’s commitment to the highest levels of care spans generations, from helping to start the National Funeral Directors Association and the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, to setting the bar for local funeral service standards.

For instance, in 1984, sensing a change in family preferences, Chip Billow became the first funeral home owner in greater Akron to install his own crematory, so he and his team could provide the highest levels of service and peace of mind to the families they serve. (According to Chip, many other funeral homes, including popular national funeral conglomerates, use off-site cremation warehouses.)

Today, a number of other funeral homes in Northeast Ohio also trust Billow’s crematory to assist with their own cremation needs.

And Chip’s children, Nathanael and Anastasia, are poised to continue building on their family’s legacy as leaders of one of the preeminent funeral homes in the United States.

Nathanael Billow, a former finance professional at Ford Motor Company in Detroit, knew his heart was in the funeral business.

“My team at Ford could not believe it when I told them I was leaving to join my family’s funeral business,” shares Nathanael, now executive vice president and treasurer of Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory.

“But this business is a calling. It’s the way my sister and I can properly honor the legacy of our own ancestors. We want to continue our family’s fundamental role in the community with our time-tested traditions of dignity, love, and respect.”

While Nathanael is honoring his family’s legacy, he’s also sharing his talent for innovation and smart partnerships.

“For many families that we serve, caskets and urns can serve as a show of respect for their loved one,” explains Nathanael. “So, we set out to offer deeply meaningful yet affordable products crafted by local artists.”

And one of the first artists he approached was celebrated Akron-based metalworker Don Drumm.

“When Nathanael approached me about designing urns for him, I kept thinking about my customers from all over the county who’ve placed the cremated remains of their deceased loved ones in one of my casserole dishes,” shares Don.

“When my mother passed, we celebrated her and buried her over my father’s grave in my handcrafted casserole dish, held down by two screws. So, I’d say we have a need for these urns—and I wanted to do it right.”

Chip’s daughter, Anastasia Billow, found the family calling, too.

“We meet with grief and mourning every day,” shares Anastasia, who is one of the first and only sixth-generation funeral directors in the entire country.

“But we also meet with humanity and love.”

Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory is located at 85 N Miller Road, in Fairlawn, and 1907 23rd Street, in Cuyahoga Falls. You may reach the Billow team at 330-867-4141 or learn more at