History & Staff

At Cesarz Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, we provide personalized service options that allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life in Waukesha and the surrounding areas, we invite you to learn more about where we came from, our vision, and the dedicated people behind our work.

A History of Caring

In 1897, our funeral home began serving the community as Biggs & Stoeckel Funeral Home on the corner of South Barstow and Main Streets. As the years passed, the name changed to Ray Biggs and Company, and after a fire destroyed the original building, the funeral home was relocated to East Broadway. Upon Mr. Bigg's death in 1925, Erling Larsen was hired as a funeral director. Five years later, Erling and his wife Olive purchased the business from Mrs. Biggs and relocated the funeral home to 419 East Broadway.

In 1962, local funeral director James Hamacher opened a funeral home at 237 N. Moreland Boulevard where he continued in business until 1968 when his funeral home was acquired by Grant Zinnecker and John Cesarz. The two purchased the Erling Larsen Funeral Home in 1975, operating out of both the Moreland Boulevard and East Broadway locations.

In 1982, Mary Lou Charapata joined Cesarz and Zinnecker. Following Grant Zinnecker's retirement, Mary Lou became a partner in the business in 1993. At that time, the firm's name changed to Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home.

In 2000, the Broadway location was sold in order to consolidate staff and services and be more conveniently located. Various renovations, including improved parking and a remodeled interior to the Moreland Blvd. location, ensured that the community could be served for years to come.

In 2002, John Cesarz retired, and Mary Lou Charapata purchased the remainder of the business to become the sole owner of CCZ Funeral Home. John Cesarz continues to reside in the Waukesha area and is active in a variety of organizations.

In 2015, Mary Lou Charapata announced that she had entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of CCZ to Ryan Nowatka, owner of a funeral home in nearby Watertown, WI. Mary Lou remained Managing Director and continued to serve area families and the greater Waukesha community.

In January of 2018, Ryan Nowatka transferred ownership of CCZ to Foundation Partners Group, a privately held provider of funeral and cremation services throughout the United States. Since joining the Foundation Partners team, CCZ has been able to deliver an even greater level of service to the Waukesha community, while providing employees with better benefits and greater career advancement opportunities.

Throughout our history, CCZ’s dedication to high-quality, personalized service has never wavered, and we look forward to continuing to serve Waukesha families and our community for generations to come.

Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care

A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate life. At CCZ, our goal is to compassionately care for you and your family with understanding, integrity, respect, and dedication. Our experienced funeral directors are committed to guiding you while honoring your loved one’s life with dignity, respect, professionalism, and excellence.

MarQuita Cooper
Funeral Director

Since I was 17 years old, I wanted to be a licensed funeral director. I attended Milwaukee Area Technical College, and in 2014, I received an Associate’s degree in Mortuary Science. In 2017, I became a licensed funeral director and began working at Cesarz Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home. I am a part of the graduating class of 2020 at Cardinal Stritch University with a Bachelor’s of Science and Business Management. I currently mentor students that are in mortuary school. I am privileged to help the families of Waukesha by being able to assist them in achieving a meaningful funeral experience that honors the life of their loved one.

I am proud to be a member on the board of Healing Hearts of Waukesha County, a non-for-profit organization that offers compassion, hope and healing through guided peer support for children experiencing loss and the adults who care for them, since 2017; I was the president of the board of Healing Hearts from 2019-2020. I have been with my husband, Roosevelt since the 10th grade. We have been together for over 22 years, and we have four children, Myela, Myana, My ‘Aja, and Roosevelt IV.

I am here, and I am ready to help your families celebrate the life of their loved one.

Mariah Dobbs
Funeral Director/Pre-Plan Specialist

I strive to provide the best possible service through remembrance and tribute to lives that were lived. To achieve a meaningful funeral experience for each family requires careful listening, attention-to-detail, as well as an understanding of each family’s needs. Having been a part of the CCZ family for over a decade, I have found great importance in providing support and hope for the families in our community through personalized funeral services, death care education, and other community outreach opportunities.

As natives of Maine, my husband, Jason and I moved to Wisconsin in 1999. Over the years our family has grown with the addition of our four children, Micah, Leah, Ethan and Owen. As a family, we like to explore the many adventures Wisconsin has to offer. We enjoy skiing, hiking, kayaking, camping, and fishing. Making our home in Wisconsin keeps our family moving “Forward”.

Dayna Bjerke
Funeral Director

A native of Waukesha, I love serving my community as a funeral director here at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home. I hold a degree in Funeral Service from Milwaukee Area Technical College as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in Anthropology, a minor in Criminal Justice, and certificates in Death Investigation and American Indian Studies.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, traveling, spending time outside gardening, hiking, canoeing, and relaxing near a campfire, working with my pup, Jasper, teaching him manners and new tricks, and gathering with family and friends. I volunteer as a wish granter and event volunteer for Make-A-Wish and support HAWS by feeding the dogs.

I am blessed to be employed at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home where I am privileged to work alongside those who dedicate themselves in providing exceptional care and service to the families of my community.

Lydia Gomez
Funeral Director Apprentice

I am from Puerto Rico where I studied and worked as a funeral director in 2013. I currently work for Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home where I am employed as an apprentice until I can change my funeral director license to this state. I love working with this community to be helpful and compassionate in the difficult times that families may go through. I enjoy being out in the community, and I have two beautiful children; they are everything to me.

Kelsey Nowak
Funeral Director Apprentice

Ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a funeral director. I am pleased to be employed at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home for the start of my journey. It is an honor to be a part of such a caring team and to serve the community of Waukesha. I am excited to further my education and get my degree in Mortuary Science. Prior to joining CCZ, I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at an assisted living center serving senior citizens and worked at Children’s Hospital as a phlebotomist. Outside of work, I love to spend time with my children, Malina and Atlas.