Picture of Co-owner of Memorial Funeral Home Kurt Edenbach.

Kurt Edenbach

Funeral Director/Co-Owner of Memorial Funeral Homes

Kurt grew up in Middletown schools and has been working around the funeral home since he was teenager. He demonstrates his dedication by the way he cares for families day in and day out as well as the support he provides to many of the organizations in and around Newport. With the help of his staff and the people of Aquidneck Island he helped bring The Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial to Newport in September 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Robert Potter League for Animals and the Newport County YMCA. Kurt enjoys outdoor adventures with his wife Meaghan O’Neill Edenbach and their two children, Nick and Oona. 

Kurt is a member of the RI Funeral Directors Association and an active member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes.  He is a graduate of Portsmouth Abbey School and Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. He completed his professional training at Gupton Jones College in Atlanta. Kurt then joined his father and uncle at the funeral home as a licensed funeral director in the spring of 1997.  Over the last 20 years he has taken on many of the day to day responsibilities of the funeral home and holds a state Insurance License to assist with providing preplanning options for the community. 

Email: kurt@memorialfuneralhome.com


Robert Edenbach

Co-Owner of Memorial Funeral Homes

Most people know him as Bob. He is an Aquidneck Island native and has lived in almost every town in the county. He joined the family business in September of 1968 and graduated from the New England Institute in 1970 acquiring both Massachusetts and Rhode Island Funeral Director/Embalmers licenses. Bob was known for his compassionate approach with families. He loved to hear stories families would share with him and shared a few of his own.  

Now mostly retired, Bob now lives in Portsmouth with his wife Corinne and their golden retriever, Revere. He has two sons, Robert Jr. and Christopher and thirteen grandchildren with another on the way. Bob was a past President and life member of Newport Rotary Club. He is also an active member and past Commanding Officer of the Artillery Company of Newport which participates in revolutionary war re-enactments and maintains a museum in Newport. Bob also enjoys skiing, boating, hunting and motorcycle riding.   

He is a 1964 graduate of Fairfield University with a BA in Sociology. He proudly served in the US Navy as a Lieutenant on the Destroyer, USS Forrest Royal from 1966-1968, and in the Naval Reserves from 1969-1974, serving on the USS Purdy and the USS Dash.  


Edward Gurka

Funeral Director 

Eddie has been a license funeral director with the Memorial Funeral Homes sin 1988. He grew up in the Slatersville area of North Smithfield. He was raised in a restaurant family, and attended Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts before beginning his career in funeral services at Curtis J. Holt Sons Funeral Home in Woonsocket in 1984. 

Ed organizes the “Cooking for You” program for surviving family members, which he delivers with other members of the Memorial staff as well as remembrance events throughout the year. He lives in Middletown with his partner Scott and their perfect dog, Ivan. 

Email: ed@memorialfuneralhome.com


Sean Hackett

Funeral Director

Sean is a homegrown Newporter which gives him a deep understanding of the people on the island. Sean served our U.S. military in the Air Force.  

In his time away from the funeral home Sean loves to golf, play poker and walk on the beach. Sean lives in Middletown with his wife, Leisha, their daughter Kaitlin and their cat, Beni. Sean has two grandchildren who he adores! He hopes to join the ranks of the devoted dog lovers on our staff in the not too distant future. 

Sean has come to funeral service as a second career and found that he loves serving families during their time of need. Sean’s down to earth manner makes him very approachable. Sean graduated from FINE Mortuary College in July 2008 with an associate degree in Mortuary Science and received his funeral director’s license in January of 2009. 

Email: sean@memorialfuneralhome.com


Courtney Sullivan

Funeral Director

Courtney is a native Newporter, she brings her kind-hearted nature and attention to detail to every family she serves. You may recognize her from around town as she has been a friendly face and manager at the Newport Blues Café since the early 2000s, as well as helping at The Hungry Monkey. Courtney has a background in hospitality and event planning and comes from a family of police and medical professionals. After giving nursing school a thought, she decided a career in funeral service would be the most rewarding. She enjoys helping and guiding the families in our community, in hopes they experience a sense of relief.  

Courtney is a proud mother of two boys, Jamison and Jack, as well as her rescue pups, Charlie and Max, and Harper, her ex-racehorse rescue. Outside of work, family, and fur babies her interests include wellness and fitness, traveling and horseback riding. Courtney enjoys the volunteer work she does for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and Save One Soul Animal Rescue League.  

 Courtney started her work in funeral service as an embalming apprentice in March of 2016. She graduated Cum Laude from FINE Mortuary College in August of 2018 with an Associate’s in Funeral Science. She joined the team at Memorial Funeral Homes as a licensed Funeral Director in March of 2019.  

Email: courtney@memorialfuneralhome.com


Rachel Durbeck

Funeral Director

Rachel is an old soul trapped in a young person’s body, but we wouldn’t have her any other way. As the oldest sister of four girls, she functions through her caring nature and love. She is a crazy dog person with a mild to moderate collie obsession.

Rachel was raised with Jewish faith and has always found fascination in ritual and cultural universals.

Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rhode Island and her associate degree in Mortuary Science from FINE Mortuary College. During her studies at URI, she took a course in Thanatology and understood her true calling.

Before graduating, she began serving her apprenticeship with Memorial and enrolled at FINE, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Rachel is a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer at Memorial Funeral Homes. She has been a part of our team since 2018. Rachel specializes in working with the structured procedures within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

She is an expert on cremation memorialization. She feels deeply compelled to do the work she does and appreciates the ability to connect with families. Rachel looks forward to becoming a familiar face within the community.

In her free time, you can find her at the park with her pups, Dewey and Nala.

Email: rachel@memorialfuneralhome.com


John Nelson

Operations Coordinator and Newport Monument Company Associate

John is a native of West Hartford, CT and grew up in East Greenwich RI. He graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School in June 1984 and Babson College with a degree in Management in May, 1988. Before joining Memorial Funeral Home, John spent many years in banking as a Vice President-Operations Manager with Citizens Bank in Warwick. He brought his approachable demeanor to hospitality and served as an Operations Manager with Marriott International, where he still helps part time. 

John joined the Memorial Funeral Home team in February 2018 has lived on Aquidneck Island for 16 years. He enjoys living in Newport with his two dogs, spending time near the ocean, swimming, and has provided a happy home to many dogs over the years.

Email: jnelson@memorialfuneralhome.com


Leo Dube

Funeral Director, Director of Advance Planning

Leo hails from Swansea, Massachusetts. Leo attended Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and began his career working in funeral service there in 1984. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart and they have two adult children. In his spare–time he enjoys playing golf and traveling the world. Leo is huge Jazz music fan and loves playing his tenor saxophone.  

Leo is a licensed funeral director and is our preplanning specialist. He has over thirty years of experience in the field. Focusing on advance planning has given him a keen understanding of the needs a family has in this difficult time. If you would like to learn about what options you have, Leo can help you find the peace of mind of knowing your wishes have been accurately documented. 

Email: leo@memorialfuneralhome.com


Rev. Lark d’Helen, FT

Celebrant Coordinator, Thanatologist and Community Education Advisor

The Rev. Dr. Lark d’Helen has been a happy transplant from the state of Minnesota for over 25 years. Lark lives in Middletown with her spouse Joyce and their Shih tzu. In her downtime she can be found walking on the beach with her dog Boomerang or relaxing in her beautiful yard with friends. 

 Lark began as a minister, worked as a chaplain and advisor in hospitals and nursing homes. She has been guiding the grief support and outreach programs of Community Connections and Memorial Funeral Homes for the last 7 years. Lark has spent 10 years as adjunct faculty at University of Rhode Island in the College of Nursing’s Interdisciplinary Thanatology program. She has the highest level of certification in the field of death, dying and bereavement, a Fellow in Thanatology from Association for Death Education and Counselling. 

Email: lark@memorialfuneralhome.com


John Reynolds

Monument Company Associate & Funeral Assistant

John is a retired Middletown Firefighter. John is an amazing cook and talented handy man. He enjoys going on vacations his wife Sharon plans for them. He is also a member of the Freemasons. 

Over the last 6 years he has taken the responsibility to oversee the Newport Monument Company and all granite, bronze and engraving work. John has vast knowledge of all of the local cemeteries and is a great resource for permanent memorialization. 

Email: john@memorialfuneralhome.com


Annie Newman

Funeral Director Apprentice

Annie Newman is the newest face in Newport. She recently relocated from her hometown in the north suburbs of Chicago to serve her funeral apprenticeship with us.

Annie pursued funeral service to combine her compassion for others, her unending scientific curiosity and her passion for art and creativity. From a family of physicians, she has never been one to shy away from a tough job but knew she’d regret not being able to use her creativity in her career. She attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Illinois and graduated with an associates degree in applied science and a certificate of crematory operations in September 2022. She hopes that she can bring you and your family beyond a funeral, to build a celebration of life that truly exemplifies who your loved one was, what they cared about, and how you want to remember the time you had together.

Outside of work, Annie spends time reading, making art, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and teaching herself piano and ukulele (much to the likely dismay of her neighbors). A former collegiate rock climber at the University of Denver, she’s looking forward to settling in and making time to hit a climbing gym again. Above all, she like to spends  time spoiling her rescue Chihuahua, Nero, who she describes as her favorite “person.”

Email: annie@memorialfuneralhome.com


Lisa Alves

Office Manager

Lisa Marie Alves (no relation to the Presleys) is a life–long Aquidneck Islander and she is the heart and soul of our Funeral Home. At the age of fifteen she began working as a telephone operator for the company’s answering service. Three generations of women from her family have run the answering service for the firm, her mother, her sister and Lisa and now her daughter. Lisa went to cosmetology school and took a part time job working for her stepfather, Bob at the funeral home. Post graduation she worked part time as a hairdresser and at the answering service. After working part time in the office for the funeral home she was hooked. In the beginning of 1989, to date she is both the first and only Office Manager the company has ever known. Lisa has honored the funeral home with more than 3 decades of service. Her favorite part of the job is the feedback received from the families we serve.

Outside the funeral home Lisa is happily married to her high school sweetheart, Mike. They have two children Victoria and Michael, as well as their four dogs Easton, Stanley Cup, Mason and Axel. Lisa is a Boston Bruins fan!  

Email: lisa@memorialfuneralhome.com

kim shute

Kim Shute

Director of Community Relations

Kim has experienced bereavement first hand after her husband of 19 years died suddenly of leukemia at the age of 48. Kim has been a stay-at-home mother for seventeen years and home schooled her only son for most of that time. She has a B.A. in theater/dance and a M.F.A. in performance arts.

Kim has done course work in individual and group crisis intervention with first responders, clinicians and clergy affected by Hurricane Sandy and 9/11. She has done bookkeeping for local contractors, taught ESL for a literacy program, run her own gardening business, taught speech communications and acting. She also helped managed and promote a twenty million dollar housing project in Massachusetts. She has been heavily involved for ten years at Channing Church where she researched, wrote and offered many services as well as helped with marketing and community outreach.

Since her husband’s death she has been reading and studying up on the funeral industry and grief support. She has always loved writing and is thrilled with the opportunity to share her stories to help others feel understood and less alone in this crazy club, no one ever wants to join.

Email: kim@memorialfuneralhome.com

Our history

In June of 1931, Charles A. Edenbach Sr. was granted a license as an Undertaker from the City of Newport after graduating from the McAllister School of Embalming in New York City. In 1932, Charles A. Edenbach Sr., established his storefront funeral business at 89 Broadway. In 1936 he relocated to 375 Broadway into a new building. He and his wife Loretta Sullivan Edenbach designed and built the funeral home and it is believed to be one of the first to be built for this purpose in Rhode Island.

Mr. Edenbach Sr. was a visionary in many ways, being most notable was his creation of the colonial styled structure specifically created “to provide family and friends a means to pay the finest tribute to the memory of their loved one, without hardship”. His creation of this “home for funerals” was quite a new idea in the mid 1930’s, as funerals in that era were usually conducted from the family home.

The funeral home structure itself was so advanced and complete when built, that it served the needs of the Newport community for more than 50 years before any significant changes were warranted. In the late 1980’s, Mr. Edenbach’s sons, Charles Jr. and Robert, paid tribute to their mother and father by extensively renovating the funeral home and dedicating a new funeral chapel to their memory.

In 1964 Mr. Edenbach’s son, Charles A. Edenbach, Jr., joined his father as a licensed funeral director after graduating from Holy Cross College and receiving his funeral director training at the New England Institute. Charlie, or Toddy as he was known by family and childhood friends, lived in the funeral home with his young family and they and the business grew with his brother Robert S. Edenbach joing him in the family funeral home. Over his forty years in funeral service, Charlie worked tirelesly to help those through difficult times, and giving of his own time and energy. Outside of the funeral home, he was a board member and campaign chair for the Newport County YMCA and a fixture at the Newport Lions Club events.  Charlie leaves his wife Joan Egan Edenbach, and four children, Christine, Charles III, Kurt and John.  Over the years, he enjoyed many adventures and travels, he lived by the mantra, “work hard and play hard”, often escaping on a sailboat, skiing, or a vaction with friends to explore the world.  Often taking the road less travelled, he enjoyed learning from the local residents, often stopping to ask for some advice or just to hear a story.

Picture of Charles A. Edenbach
CHARLES A. EDENBACH, JR. (1939-2003)

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