Claude "Skip" Shriver decided to sell the business after working there for more than 40 years.

CANTON  Two of the area's oldest funeral homes have combined.

Arnold Funeral Homes has purchased Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home, giving the 130-year-old family-owned business a third location. The funeral home at 4817 Cleveland Ave. NW will operate as Arnold & Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home.

"I could not be happier with who took over the business," said Claude "Skip" Shriver, who opted to sell after working at the funeral home since 1970. The companies finalized the deal in late May.

Shriver said he decided as a youngster that he wanted to work as a funeral director. While in high school, he went to the Arnold Funeral Home and asked about a job, but John C. Arnold — grandson of business founder John Loren Arnold — didn't need help. Shriver then went to David H. Foster at Spiker-Foster and was hired.

Shriver became a vice president with Spiker-Foster in 1980 before buying the business, which opened in 1911 at 710 Tuscrawas St. W. The building on Cleveland Avenue NW, which was built as a private residence and then used as offices, opened as a second Spiker-Foster-Shriver location in 1988.

The Spiker-Foster-Shriver and Arnold funeral homes competed as businesses through the years, but the owners knew each other and sometimes worked together. For example, when founder C.D. Spiker died in 1957, the Arnold family handled the funeral service.

"There's always been a high amount of respect for each others' firms," said John L. Arnold, president of Arnold Funeral Homes and the fourth generation to lead the business.

Shriver said the two companies have worked along side for years, and "have taken great care to ensure the smoothest transition."

Arnold and Shriver said the businesses are being blended and all pre-planned arrangements have been transferred to the combined firm. As part of the merger, Dena James, a funeral director with Spiker-Foster-Shriver, has joined the Arnold staff. Shriver said he also will be available when needed to help.

The two funeral homes began discussing a merger last year after Shriver dealt with some health issues and John S. Arnold, son of John L. Arnold, became the fifth generation of the family to work at the funeral home.

The younger Arnold recalled years of fun conversations between his father and Shriver. The relationship gave way for the opportunity for Arnold to grow and for Shriver to spend more time with his family, John S. Arnold said.

The Arnold & Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home will join Arnold Funeral Home locations at 1517 Market Ave. N in Canton and 504 W. Maple St. in Hartville.

The original Spiker-Foster-Shriver location on Tuscarawas Avenue W is not part of the merger. Shriver said that more than 75 percent of his firm's services were at the Cleveland Avenue NW location. He expects to sell the property in downtown Canton.

Locals on wine list

Two downtown Canton establishments landed among Wine Spectator's winners of the 2019 Restaurant Awards.

Grapes in a Glass, at 575 Market Ave. N., and Bender's Tavern, at 137 Court Ave. SW, received the magazine's Award of Excellence, which recognizes a restaurant with a wine list that features a well-chosen assortment of quality producers. Grapes in a Glass has been recognized since 2017.

The two local restaurants were among more than 50 — some with multiple locations — in Ohio to receive the award. Wine Spectator, which calls itself the world's leading authority on wine, presented 2,447 awards of excellence, 1,244 best of awards of excellence and 100 grand awards to restaurants across the United States and in 79 countries.

"We're pleased to shine a spotlight on the destinations around the world that show devotion to their wine program, while also creating a comprehensive global dining guide for our readers to enjoy," Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator, said in the release announcing award winner.

More fun times

Three "kiddie rides" have been added at Funtimes Fun Park outside of Alliance.

Lickety Split, Star Shooters and Salt Water Tugs were added earlier this year as attractions to appeal to younger guests. It's part of an effort to accommodate all ages, said Jason Dlugokecki, park owner. The park also added an emporium that offers pizza, ice cream and other treats, and three new amusement games.

The park is at 12175 State St. NE in Lexington Township, just west of the Alliance border. It features former Geauga Lake attractions, along with a variety of activities.

Diebold Nixdorf deals

Two U.S.-based financial institutions have struck deals with Diebold Nixdorf to add equipment and services.

The maker of automatic teller machines, retail check-out equipment and connected commerce services said it will upgrade services for First Horizon National Corp. and supply ATMs to VyStar Credit Union.

First Horizon is parent company to First Tennessee Bank and Capital Bank. Diebold Nixdorf said it will incorporate more than 250 branches and a network of nearly 500 ATMs under an umbrella system by integrating hardware, software and services. The upgrade should help First Horizon make operations more efficient, improve security and ensure a better experience for customers using ATMs, Diebold Nixdorf said in a press release.

Diebold Nixdorf will replace more than 250 ATMs for VyStar, which has been a customer of the ATM maker for more than 40 years. VyStar has more than 660,000 members in northeastern and central Florida, and part of southeastern Georgia.

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On Twitter: @epritchardREP