History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our Valued Staff

  • Dennis J. Spilker

    Dennis J. Spilker Manager/Director NJ Lic. No. 4038

    Dennis began working in funeral service at the age of 15, and hasn’t looked back. He started at Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home in Williamstown washing cars, general clean up and helping on funerals and visitations.

    He’s a graduate of St. Joseph High School, Hammonton, NJ. Dennis later attended Gloucester Community College, and graduated from Mercer College.

    His funeral service apprenticeship was under Edward C. Gardner, of the Gardner Funeral Home in Runnemede, New Jersey. After receiving his funeral director’s license, Dennis worked with Bill Pancoast and the Pancoast Funeral Home in Vineland. He moved to Cape May and began working for the John C. Sudak Funeral Home in 1994. He feels grateful to have been exposed to such mentors and true gentlemen.

    “It’s hard to believe that I have been in funeral service for 30 years. Being a funeral director has it's challenges and yields its rewards but the greatest gift is doing this profession in a small town like Cape May. It is very personal."

    “I never married, but know how wonderful marriage can be, firsthand. After all, my parents were happily married for 45 years before my father passed away in 2008. I was so fortunate to work with my Dad on a daily basis at the Sudak-Danaher Funeral Home for several years. He and I had a very special bond that still remains with me.”

    Dennis is very close to his family. In fact, his Mom lives just around the corner from him and together they look after their little four-legged girl, Dani, a Maltese/Yorkie mix. “I never thought I would have a dog, let alone a small dog, but she has helped Mom and me through some tough days after the loss of my Dad.”

    When it comes to community service, Dennis is a proud member of:
    • Cape May Rotary (and Past President)
    • Former Board Member of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, Cape May
    • Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Cape May and regularly attends St. John of God Church, North Cape May
    • Knights of Columbus, St. Mary's Council
    • Cape Island Masonic Lodge Lodge #30 F&AM
    • Cape May Chamber of Commerce
    • New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association
    • West Jersey Funeral Directors Association

    Dennis is really focused on caring for the families who come to him for help after the death of a loved one. He always has been; since the age of 15, he’s done his very best to care for them. This deep desire was the driving force behind his purchase of the Sudak-Danaher Funeral Home in 2010. “Changing the name to Spilker Funeral Home was a very proud moment for me, and yet the tradition of quality service and our recognizeable and dedicated staff remains the same and is the foundation for our future. A mutual decision between myself and David Danaher, we believe the name change paints a clear picture for our community as to where the management responsibility falls and the direction of our business.”

  • Kevin J. Beare

    Kevin J. Beare Funeral Director NJ Lic. No. 3806

    A question I’m often asked is how I got started in the funeral profession and my answer is simple, “A Watch;” more on that later…
    My first exposure to a funeral was when I was 10 years old. My grandpop passed away suddenly the day after my 10th birthday. The traditional funeral at the time was 2 hour viewing the night before the service and burial the next day. After my grandfather Beare’s burial I would often times see burials at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church Cemetery while riding home from school. I would then get on my bike and travel back to the cemetery to observe the burial from a distance. As time went by, I would sometimes find deceased animals in our back yard, a toad and baby bird that fell out of nest. I would find scrap wood from my Dad’s shop, usually paneling, and locate some fabric from my Mom’s left-over material box. Then I would construct a casket and line the casket with the fabric. After building the casket I would ask my parents to come outside in our back yard for the proper burial and reading of the 23rd Psalm for the animal or reptile. After burial I would borrow flowers from our next-door neighbor’s garden to place on their grave. Yes, I’m sure this unusual action might sound extreme and very odd to some but I didn’t find it unnatural to offer a proper burial playing funeral director. I really cared then and even more so to this day that I care for others, it’s who I am as a person.
    In 1981 my Pop-Pop “Dick” McClyment passed away on Friday, March 13th and his funeral was on March 17th. I remember hearing that my Grandmom Beare lost her watch the day of Pop-Pop’s funeral. My Dad called over to John Sudak, owner of Sudak Funeral Home at that time, and John said he had found a watch in his parking lot. After hearing this information, I volunteered to go retrieve “The Watch.” On March 18th after school I went to pick up my grand mom’s watch at the Sudak Funeral Home. Those that may remember John Sudak will recall what a gentleman and a character he was. I sat down and started asking inquisitive questions regarding the funeral business and he was most kind to satisfy my desire to know more about the profession. So, because of this wonderful coincidence of needing to pick up “The Watch” I asked Mr. Sudak for a summer job at his funeral home that day (1981).
    To this day I am forever grateful for the opportunity Mr. Sudak extended, as well as Dave Danaher, to me with that summer job. John Sudak was a well-respected man and is still to this day remembered in Cape May the same way. Months after my Pop-Pops passing my Mom-Mom spoke with John and he shared that he couldn’t help “Dick” McClyment throughout his illness but he could help me with a job at his funeral home. John Sudak and Dave Danaher were both great influencers and mentors in my youth and I will always be very thankful for their support and giving me the opportunity to work by their side as a recently graduated LCMR student.
    I later served my apprenticeship at Saul Funeral in Trenton, New Jersey and graduated from New Jersey’s only mortuary school in New Jersey, Mercer County College and passed my National Board Funeral Director’s Exam in May of 1985 as well as the NJ State Law Exam in that same month.

    After several years’ hiatus from the funeral profession I came back to my roots and started working with Dennis Spilker, Owner and Manager of Spilker Funeral Home. I’m very proud to be serving back where my profession as a funeral director started 38 years ago.

    Memberships & Accomplishments:
    - Member and Elder of Cold Spring Presbyterian Church
    - Chef for Cold Spring Presbyterian Church Dinners
    - Supervised as Building and Grounds Committee chair for Cameron Compare's Eagle Scout project at the Veteran’s Memorial Pavilion in Cold Spring Cemetery (2016)

    Thing’s of Interest:
    Traveling, Cooking, Astronomy, Fishing, Aviation, Yardwork (getting my hands dirty!) and hanging out with my good buddy, Marley, my 12 year old Standard Poodle.
    Basically, I have a general interest in how ALL things work, “MacGyver”

  • David M. Danaher

    David M. Danaher Funeral Director NJ Lic. No. 3285

    Dave has been in funeral service since 1972. He became a fully-licensed funeral director in 1975, and since that time, he has served over 4,000 families. “When you live in a small town, you know everyone, and when a death happens, you feel a sense of loss as well. I hope I can continue to help families pull through one of the most challenging times in their lives.”

    He attended Notre Dame High School and Utica Free Academy in Utica, New York. Later, he served 4 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, receiving extensive training in land-based and shipboard electrical/electronic systems. Dave received an Associate Business/Accounting Degree from Atlantic Community College, Atlantic County, New Jersey, and earned an Associate Degree in Mortuary Science from Simmons School of Mortuary Science in Syracuse, New York. Dave has also successfully completed numerous Professional Certification training programs.

    “I worked with John C. Sudak, my father-in-law, as a Funeral Director for over 27 years, until his death in 1999. In 1987, I was appointed to the New Jersey State Board of Mortuary Science as one of the youngest appointments ever, and the first person ever from Cape May County. In 1988, I was elected Secretary of the Board, and in July of 1989, I was elected by my peers as President of the New Jersey State Board of Mortuary Science, a position I held for two terms.”

    Dave served 25 years with the Cape May Volunteer Fire Company, and spent several years as President, Treasurer, Lieutenant, and as their last volunteer Fire Chief. He is also a 25 year member of the Cape May Kiwanis Club, serving as President, Treasurer and Foundation Director, as well as many terms on the Board of Directors, Scholarship Committee, and various other Committees.

    Dave's other community activities include memberships in:
    • Knights of Columbus, St. Mary’s Council;
    • Knights of Columbus, Msgr. Moroney General Assembly
    • American Legion Post 193
    • National Funeral Directors Association
    • New Jersey Funeral Directors Association
    • West Jersey Funeral Directors Association

    He was a former member of the Mayors’ Advisory Board on Parking and still serves on Cape May Emergency Management. He enjoyed many years as a former Little League Umpire.

    Dave has been married to Peggy (Sudak) for almost 40 years, and together they raised three children, Lisa, Karen, and Scott, who are now all happily married. Today, Dave and Peggy enjoy spending time with their children, and their two grandsons, Brenden and Tyler.

  • Gilbert H. Ewing Jr.

    Gilbert H. Ewing Jr. Funeral Assistant*

    With about ten years experience in funeral service, Gil is well aware of the important role he plays here at Spilker Funeral Home. “I get a rewarding feeling every day that I am at work helping people who are grieving, trying to lighten the load by handling the little chores and details that clutter their day of sadness and loss. And being around caring professionals encourages me to complete any task that should arise during the course of the day in a caring and professional way.”

    Gil is a graduate of Cape May High School, with a major in Agriculture. He is retired from Bell Atlantic Telephone Company (now Verizon), after forty five years of service. He is a licensed USCG Captain, licensed to operate vessels up to two hundred gross tons within a range of two hundred miles.

    He has been married to Joyce E. (Helverson) Ewing for fifty years. They have one daughter, and two wonderful grandchildren.

    Gil has served on the Lower Township board of education for over eight years, and was president for six of those years. He takes pride in serving as a member of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council for over twenty one years, and thoroughly enjoys his role as chairman for the last nineteen years. He has also served as the Legislative proxy to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission under two different legislators. Gil has also been a member of the Cape Island Masonic Lodge #30 F&AM for over thirty five years.

    *Unlicensed and not qualified to make funeral arrangements, embalm, or conduct funerals.

  • John Gerolstein

    John Gerolstein Funeral Assistant*

    John began working in a funeral home while he was in college, and has been with Spilker Funeral Home for 10 years.

    "I believe my work at the funeral home is an extension of my years as a social worker. It is truly a privilege to care for people during a very difficult time - hopefully I can provide some sense of comfort, or encouragement while they are in such a vulnerable state."

    John graduated from Monmouth University with a degree in education. He worked in social services for 31 years, always with abused and neglected children. After he retired in 2002, he continued to focus on the community's children by working as a Teacher's Assistant at the Richard M. Teitelman School.

    His family moved to Cape May in 1987, which means that for well over two decades, John has helped to make Cape May the wonderful place we all know it to be.

    His wife Sonja passed away in 1999, after a courageous battle with breast cancer. "Her strength was an inspiration to all who knew her." His daughter Heidi graduated from Stockton State College.

    "When I'm not working, I'm usually busy restoring my 50-year old wooden boat. As anyone will tell you, it's a true labor of love!"

    *Unlicensed and not qualified to make funeral arrangements, embalm, or conduct funerals.

  • John Van de Vaarst

    John Van de Vaarst Funeral Assistant*

    John has been a funeral assistant for two years. “It’s rewarding to help people during their time in need. Working with professionals is also a very positive experience, and the people here are certainly that, and more.”

    Prior to coming to Spilker Funeral Home, John worked with the U.S. Federal Government for over 36 years; most recently as the Deputy Area Director, USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. It’s interesting to note that his B.A. degree is in History and Biblical Literature, and he’s a graduate of the USDA Leadership Education and Development Program, which is the equivalent of Master's Degree.

    He’s a well-rounded, committed individual, and has many awards to prove the point:
    • USDA Honor Award presented by the Secretary of Agriculture for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities -1992
    • Maryland Humanitarian Award - 2003
    • GEICO Public Service Award - 2005
    • National Soccer Hall of Fame Inductee - 1997

    He’s very happily married, and he and his wife Mary raised 6 children together. Currently, they enjoy the company of their 7 grandchildren as often as they can.

    *Unlicensed and not qualified to make funeral arrangements, embalm, or conduct funerals.