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.

Karen Harden
Administrative Assistant

Karen joined Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home in 2021. She is a full-time Administrative Assistant. Before joining our team, she managed assisted living programs for 20 years. She has many years of business experience and has brought that same commitment to helping people with her. She is here to assist you with any needs you may have.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, caring for her pets (Boxer named Ali and cat named Chi), and traveling. She has a passion for animals and is our liaison with HAWS.