Cash Box connection equals lasting friendship

By: 
Kim Dean

Kim Dean

NLJ Managing Editor

 

Marge McColley of Custer, S.D., has been a faithful, long-time customer of Linda Cash at Cash Box Ceramics in Newcastle, ordering many Christmas ornaments each year for the past couple of decades. 

“The first time Marge came in, she was with Jean McColley,” recalled Cash, who said the two women were just out shopping together. Cash said Marge’s husband, Kenneth (now deceased), and Jean’s husband, Don, were cousins, and the two families owned funeral homes. Don and Jean owned McColley’s Funeral Home in Newcastle, and Kenneth and Marge owned funeral homes in Edgemont, S.D., and Custer.   

The McColley family funeral connection spanned more than just these two families but rather a couple generations, including fathers, sons, uncles, and cousins. Rick McColley, Don’s son, said his great grandfather — Thomas McColley — and his family were farmers and ranchers in northeastern Nebraska before moving to Chamberlain. 

“Old Tom had five sons who all became funeral directors,   including my grandfather, Rollin. And then their sons, all first cousins, followed them into the profession, including my dad, Don. My dad went to mortuary science school in Kansas City. That’s where I was born,” said Rick, who added that only one of his generation’s cousins continued on in the family profession, Tom McColley Jr.

According to a Fall River County Herald Aug. 19, 2021, article, at one time, the McColley family independently owned and operated six funeral homes in South Dakota and Wyoming: Rollin McColley, Chamberlain, S.D.; Morris B. McColley, Lead, S.D.; Dallas McColley, Spearfish, S.D.; Elmer and Kenneth McColley, Edgemont; Thomas E. McColley, Hot Springs, S.D.; and Don McColley, Newcastle. 

While visiting last week with Cash, Marge McColley talked about her family’s connection to the funeral business and said that her husband, Ken, went to mortuary science school in St. Louis on his G.I. Bill. 

It wasn’t the funeral homes that connected Marge McColley with Cash, though. It was a love of ceramics and a giving spirit.

Cash spoke fondly of her long-time customer and friend.

“I just really enjoy her. She’s been a super customer. Marge always calls ahead and sets a time to come in, usually in July or August to pick out the Christmas ornaments she wants,” Cash continued. “She carries a notebook with her so we never duplicate ornaments. She wants them to be different every year. Last year we did a set of seven Christmas carolers, three girls and four boys, and I painted them with different colored clothing.” 

McColley’s book is a rather impressive affair. It revealed quite a history of the 935 ornaments she’s either made or purchased since 1994, and her shopping list has grown from family members to friends, neighbors and other children. Now in her 90s, McColley doesn’t do as much of the ceramic work as she used to.

“I don’t paint anymore, I’m too shaky. I still love to garden and be outdoors,” Marge said, adding that her friend, Linda, paints the ornaments for her.

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