J.H. Gebken Livery and Boarding Stables was established in 1886 by John H. Gebken, who was born in the District of Hildesheim, Kingdom of Hanover, Germany. One of 10 children, he immigrated to America when he was 20 years old and came to St. Louis thereafter. At the beginning of the Civil War he joined the Union Army. He participated in the takeover of Camp Jackson, but soon had to retire from active war due to illness.
In 1886, soon after his retirement from military service, he founded a livery business at 2230 Gravois Ave in St. Louis. In 1892 he purchased a lot at 2842 Meramec Street, the present site of Gebken-Benz Mortuary. He was active in the business until his death in 1911 as a result of a streetcar accident. One afternoon while returning home , after he had drove one of the Franciscan Fathers to St. Joseph's Orphanage, his buggy was struck by a streetcar and he was thrown out, sustaining fatal injuries.
William G. Benz Sr. married Mary Gebken, daughter of John H. Gebken in 1906. He joined the company, which was then known as J.H. Gebken Livery and Undertaking Co. In 1941 the name of the business was changed to Gebken-Benz Mortuary, Inc.
William and Mary had five sons and three daughters. Four of the sons, William, Walter, Vincent, and Joseph, joined their father in the business to become the third generation.
Fourth generation, Lawrence, son of Joseph and Marian Benz, is currently the president of the company. Together with his wife Kay, they continue to serve families with the same professional, dignified, personal service established by the Benz family over the years.
The tradition of personalized care continued into the fifth generation with Kevin and Keith Benz, sons of Lawrence and Kay, both joining the firm to make Gebken-Benz the oldest active family owned and operated funeral home in St. Louis, Missouri.