Business was founded about 80 years ago by Edwin P. Johnson Sr.

Published in the March 2-15, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek Betty Muños and Sam Campagna display the newly redesigned sign for Johnson Funeral Home.  A ribbon cutting for the business will take place at 4:30 p.m. March 10, at 17720 Monterey Road.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Betty Muñoz and Sam Campagna display the newly redesigned sign for Johnson Funeral Home. A ribbon cutting for the business will take place at 4:30 p.m. March 10, at 17720 Monterey Road.

Morgan Hill’s Johnson Funeral Home re-opened its doors with new management last month after being purchased by partners Sam Campagna, Vince Lima and Joe Lima.

“We’re open now. We received our license February 11,” Campagna said. “We’re bringing back the traditions that the community knew with the Johnsons — Ruth and Ed and their children Judy and Chris.”

Last fall, the funeral home located just north of downtown Morgan Hill temporarily closed its doors. The decision to close the site, a member of the Dignity Memorial network, was made by the Service Corporation International corporate officials. The building was still owned by the Johnson family.

“I’ve known the Johnsons for 40 plus years, I use to do work for them,” Campagna said. “So when we heard (Dignity) vacated, we contacted Ruth and Ed and that’s how it (the new ownership) came about.”

Lima-Campagna Johnson Funeral Home underwent a remodeling job inside with freshly painted walls, wall sconces, cleaned pew upholstery and other upgrades. The new owners decided to brighten the interior with more lighting so it wouldn’t look so “dreary,” Campagna said.

New to the decor are granite tops in the back of the chapel where people can place items related to the deceased person’s life, Betty Arzate Muñoz, the funeral home’s general manager, said.

“What we like to do is a celebration of life. We can put the family items here to show it’s a celebration of life,” she said.

Morgan Hill’s funeral home was founded about 80 years ago by Edwin P. Johnson Sr., who followed in his father’s footsteps as an undertaker. Johnson earned his mortician license in Michigan in 1921 and later moved to San Jose, with his wife Meta and their daughters Dorothy and Bonnie, to work at the San Jose Undertaking Company. At that business, he was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Eventually, he decided to go into business for himself and rented the Lane Funeral Home in Morgan Hill in the early 1930s. In 1935, he had a new funeral home designed at the site at 17720 Monterey St. It was completed in 1936 and named Johnson Funeral Home.

Campagna and his two partners own two other funeral homes, the Mission Chapel Funeral Home in San Jose and Lima & Campagna Sunnyvale Mortuary.

At an early age growing up in San Jose, Campagna knew he wanted to get into the funeral business.

“I witnessed my first embalming when I was seven years old. It was like my calling,” he said.

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Instead of playing baseball like other kids, he liked going to the Mission Chapel Funeral Home and working for free, vacuuming carpets and other chores, so he could start to learn the business.

“It’s been a ministry for me. It’s in my blood. My grandmother use to say, ‘Get his head examined. What’s wrong with this kid?’”

The remodeling work for the funeral home is nearly finished and the building is ready for business, he said.

“We’re excited,” he said. “This place was really run down and it needs to be given a heart beat and we’re the people who want to give it a heartbeat again.”

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at editor@morganhilllife.com.
Robert Airoldi