Passantino Bros: A legacy of caring service

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor


Passantino Bros. Funeral Home at 2117 Independence Blvd. has served the Historic Northeast since it was established in January of 1930 by Charles, George and Rosario Passantino.


Charles Passantino’s interest in the industry was sparked when he got a job as a chauffeur for funeral homes. He and his brothers moved into the house, the former James Burnham residence, which, at the time, was surrounded by other mansions along Independence Boulevard. At one time, 14 Passantino family members lived there.


The brothers passed their attentive and caring service on to the second generation, cousins Leonard and Buddy Passantino, both with their roots in Northeast. The business flourished through compassionate service and focus on each of the families they served.


In 1981, Leonard’s son Charlie became a licensed Funeral Director and joined the business, continuing the Passantino family’s legacy of service and commitment to community.


Over the years, the Passantino family adapted to the growing and changing needs of the Northeast community, offering a wider variety of services to fit the constantly evolving international community in the city’s Historic Northeast neighborhood.


The home in which the business started has grown, as well, from the time it was built for noted Kansas City Dry Goods Merchant James K. Burnham in 1888. Over the years, the original house has been expanded an estimated nine times in order to fit the growing business and to adapt to the trend of moving funeral services from the deceased’s home, a common practice at the turn of the 20th century.


While the physical building hasn’t expanded since the 1960s, technology has evolved greatly, allowing the business to add a more personal touch to services.


“We do all of that, even down to putting playlists together for background music,” Funeral Director and Embalmer Gary Bertoncin said. “Those are things that we find are very important, most families do, too.”


In a society where people are constantly on the go and busier than ever, funerals have evolved into a reunion of sorts as extended families gather to celebrate a life, reminisce about loved ones and catch up.


Being locally owned and family run provides them the flexibility to meet unique family wishes and traditions for a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.


While the majority of the families they serve have always been Italian, Passantino Bros. have held Buddhist services for Vietnamese clients dating back to the 1970s when refugees settled in the Northeast.


“The biggest advantage is that the owner of the funeral home has the final say on whatever we do,” Bertoncin said. “If a family has a special request, if they’ve got special needs that they need met, we don’t have to go up a corporate chain in order to get that approved.”


Another advantage is cost. As an independent business, Passantino Bros. has been able to keep prices reasonable throughout the nine decades they’ve been in business.


Bertoncin got into the business at a young age, and views helping families as a form of secular ministry.


“You become well aware that we are mortal,” Bertoncin said. “You can look at it two ways – you can find it a burden that you know your time’s limited, but in a lot of ways it’s kind of peaceful, too, because you constantly remind yourself to live for now because you never know what tomorrow brings.”
Passantino Bros. Funeral Home staff is available 24/7 by calling their main number at (816) 471-2844 or emailing staff@passantinobros.com.

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