History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

Our History

Here's a quick synopsis  of our history in Town: The only locally owned funeral home in Essex Centre since 1938.

Stew Kennedy passed away in 1994 and his daughter Ann took possession of the funeral home. Ann along with her husband Geoff completed many major renovations and increased the level of care provided. 

On May 1, 2007, Tony and Jennifer de Ryk purchased the funeral home. Since then we added an array of services and added more staff.
  We even added a "one of kind" reception room. One that's unique in Essex.

We're still the only locally owned funeral company in Essex Centre meaning we pay both our commercial and residential taxes to the Town of Essex.

Our head office is located in Essex Centre and not in another City, Town or Municipality. We've expanded a couple of times in the last 10 years including with a new cremation company, the Caring Cremation Centre.

Our Valued Staff

  • Tony de Ryk

    Tony de Ryk, The boss, creative genius & ceremony expert

    Tony is a happily married guy to his awesome wife Jennifer for over 20 years. He is a 3rd degree member of the Knights of Columbus # 3305 Essex and is a member of Holy Name Parish in Essex. Tony was the former star third baseman for the exciting Lifeteen Baseball Team. He was awesome.

    Tony is the definition of a community minded funeral director. He's got a great sense of humour too. Tony has many talents including choosing the perfect pint of craft beer while watching the Blue Jay's. You won't find a more sincere funeral fella on the planet.

    Above all he will work very hard to make your experience as best as it can be. It's not easy to loose a loved one and he understands that. Kennedy's is not just a business, it is a labour of love. Most likely he's working right now!

  • Mrs. Jennifer de Ryk B.Sc

    Mrs. Jennifer de Ryk B.Sc, The REAL BOSS & Co-Owner

    Jenn is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and a former massage therapist and Kinesiologist with the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. Jenn is a super cook and prepares most of our baked goods for visitations and funerals. Jenn had been very involved with the SAC at St. Mary's School for many years.

    She has a part-time career with Dr. Wilbee (an awesome Eye Doctor) in Essex as a receptionist. Sometimes we wonder how she does it all!

    Jenn is the bestest wife ever and when she says "jump" to Tony, he says "how high". The two of them have a fun relationship and look forward to travelling with family and friends. She especially loves when Tony leaves his socks beside the bed.

  • Mrs. Ann Perry R.N.

    Mrs. Ann Perry R.N., One caring & devoted lady

    Ann is the daughter of Stewart Kennedy who founded our funeral home in 1938. She is married to Geoff and they continue to reside in Essex. Ann has been caught twice wearing two different shoes and we always take a photo so we can make fun of her. Both Ann and Geoff worked very hard to revitalize the company after Stew passed. From 1999 to 2009 they doubled the amount of families being served on an annual basis. Ann is super!

  • Geoff Perry

    Geoff Perry, Funeral Assistant

    Geoff managed the Kennedy Furniture Store in the 1970's. He was a Design Engineer and a Project Administrator, providing new, final assembly plants in Canada, United States of America and South America. This guy knows a little about everything. Geoff also has a talent for making his own wine!

  • Brian Rivest

    Brian Rivest, Jack of all trades

    Brian is our "jack of all trades". He retired from Weston's (Ready Bake) in Essex. Brian is married to Donna who retired from the Royal Bank . They have a son Nicholas, a daughter Erin and an awesome grandson A.J.

    Brian wins several awards at our Annual Awards Banquet and Christmas Party. This year he brought home the "We'll never forget award". Truthfully though, Brian wins the same award every year.

  • Jim Rundle

    Jim Rundle, Head of Global Security for Kennedy Funeral Home

    Jim is retired from the Windsor Police Service. He is married to Bonnie and has two sons who live in Essex. He has won the 'Employee of the Year' award every single year. Some of the staff have suggested he may be involved in a plot to win every year. The Board of Directors (me, myself and I) launched an official investigation and found no evidence of wrong doing. An independent audit found that Jim has been cleared of all wrong doing in 'fixing' the employee of the year award.

  • Carolyn Barnett

    Carolyn Barnett, Chief List maker & Music Director & the follow up Lady

    Carolyn was born & raised in the Essex area. She was a graduate of Essex District High School & Windsor Teacher's College. Carolyn taught at Sandwich East Public, Maplewood Public & Gosfield North Central Schools. She is married to Jim & they have two children, Cindy & Doug. Carolyn is a member of the Salvation Army Essex Corps & her church activities include playing piano for Community Care Ministries at Iler Lodge & Country Village Nursing Home.
    After years of dedication she won the Most Improved Award in 2012. Way to go! Keep improving!
    Carolyn takes care of our follow up calls to make sure the families we served are doing ok.

  • Mrs. Marj Garant

    Mrs. Marj Garant, Greeter

    Many of you will know Marj from working at the Essex Post Office. Now that she is retired, we talked her into working here! If you ever need a postal code, she's the person to talk to.

  • Mrs. Sharon Smith

    Mrs. Sharon Smith, Expert talker

    Sharon and her late husband Sam are long time residents of Essex. Sharon is super nice and comforting. Let's be honest she knows everyone. Her late husband Sam (September 2014) was a Fire Chief and served 42 years with the Essex Fire & Rescue Service. We welcome Sharon to our awesome team. One thing though, we're not sure how much work she gets done when she's paired with Dianne!

  • Mrs. Tricia Bitzer

    Mrs. Tricia Bitzer, Newby greeter

    Trish is the new member of our team. She's married to Matt and they have three awesome kids.

    She's already been reprimanded for spilling wine on the bosses wall during a Christmas party (pre covid).

  • Mrs. Helen McLeod

    Mrs. Helen McLeod, Funeral Assistant/Greeter

    Helen and her husband Murray own the famous McLeod Farms in Cottam. Since she has started working here the funeral home has never been so clean! Helen has a great sense of humour and we love having her aboard! Another thing, Helen and her family may be some of the busiest people you'll ever meet. Farmers - Electricians - Grandparents - Business owners - and now, funeral people!

  • Dianne Desjardins

    Dianne Desjardins, The coffee lady

    Dianne is one of the friendly people you meet during visitations. She was married to the late Raymond and she resides in Essex. Dianne makes the best coffee period, and happens to know pretty much anyone there is to know in Essex. Whatever you do, do not dump that last bit of coffee in front of Dianne!

  • Debra McMillan

    Debra McMillan, Hair Stylist

    Deb lives in Essex with her husband John. She has been looking after our hairdressing needs for many years and we love her to pieces. Deb loves attending our Christmas and staff parties.

  • Sherry Schraeder

    Sherry Schraeder, Funeral Assistant

    Sherry will not allow us the opportunity to place her photo on our website. One day we will surprise her, snap a photo and run! We're not really sure what Sherry does here, but we like her a lot!

  • Mrs. Jane Zelko

    Mrs. Jane Zelko, Funeral Assistant

    Jane is one busy lady. She works three jobs (that we know of) and is very involved with Essex Minor Hockey. She must be a good multi-tasker!

  • Mr. Terry Jackson

    Mr. Terry Jackson, Funeral Assistant

    Terry is our new 'rookie' on the team. He is married to Liz Jackson and they are the parents of the real boss, Jenn de Ryk. Terry is also our unofficial handy man. We never use to pay Terry anything for his endeavours, but now that he's an official funeral assistant, we felt he should be renumerated for his time.

  • Miss Emma de Ryk

    Miss Emma de Ryk, Funeral Helper

    Emma is a graduate of the French Immersion program at St. Mary's School in Maidstone. Emma recently graduated from Essex District High school and is the recipient of a scholarship worth $ 10,000 at the University of Windsor (if she keeps her marks up).

    Tony takes full credit for her intelligence but the truth is it comes from her mother. She was a former Competitive skipping team member who traveled across Canada for competitions.

    Emma absolutely gets her kind disposition from her dad! (In reality, we all know that it comes from her mom).

  • Connor de Ryk

    Connor de Ryk, Supervisor & the future of Kennedy's?????

    Connor. What can we say about Connor. He definitely takes after his dad. He has quite the sense of humour for his age! Connor graduated from the French immersion program at St. Mary's in Maidstone and now attends Essex District Highschool.

    Connor is an employee of the funeral home and has only been fired 3 times. He has a heart of gold and it is nice to see him around washing cars and cleaning up. Connor helps with video editing now too!

  • Moose de Ryk

    Moose de Ryk, My wife's dog

    Jenn talked Tony into purchasing another dog after our friends Mary and Dennis purchased his sister. Moose is really crazy, hasn't calmed down and I hate to admit it, but really entertaining. This dog is completely nuts but gives you a good laugh. Moose can swim across a lake, run 5 k and still have enough energy to annoy Tony! He is very likely the funniest dog on the planet and is the topic of many conversations at our house.