After sitting vacant for more than 10 years, the recent transformation of the former Broccoli's Restaurant property on Highway 59 just south of Sailboat Bridge on Highway 59 has created curiosity from those driving by.

However, unlike some construction projects, this one seemed to mutate nearly overnight into a modern commercial structure.

That transformation was designed by Grove native Karin Stephens, the owner of Nichols-Stephens Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

In just over 13 weeks, with a lot of hard work by the entire Stephens family, the property is now the new home of Nichols-Stephens.

The funeral home moved from its original location just a few blocks away. The new, larger facility more than doubled its size expanding to 8,400 square feet from around 4,000.

Entering the door, one needs to throw away all preconceived ideas about what a funeral home looks like in order to appreciate this facility.

Just as the outside is bright and inviting so is the inside. In soothing and light colors the multiple rooms of the new location feature modernistic design touches decorated with metallic wall decor.

"Our industry is changing," Stephens said. "The traditional funerals are no longer what everyone chooses.

"We accommodate what people want whether it is traditional or an informal memorial service or a celebration of a person's life."

To that point, there are several rooms with comfortable chairs and couches to serve as reception or memorial areas. The rooms are equipped with modern audio-visual equipment to allow aspects of the person's life to be presented.

In addition, there is a serving area with round tables that can be used for family dinners.

A large chapel area will seat up to 140 people as compared to the 75-seat chapel at their former facility.

Just as churches often use their chapels and spaces for multiple purposes, Stephens designed the space with that in mind.

While funerals and memorials are the main functions of the new space, her plan is that it can be used for many other events including meetings, baby showers, perhaps even weddings.

Just like the facility, Stephens' life has undergone a major transformation during the past few years.

Stephens and her former husband founded the funeral home in 2011.

Initially, she was not really involved with the business. However, in 2013 she was divorced and had to make a decision on whether she wanted to make the funeral industry her career.

"I realized that the business allowed me to help people during difficult times," Stephens said. "I had the ability to make things easier for people. I felt it was my calling."

It wasn't an easy decision or an easy path. He former father-in-law, Jim Thomas, stepped up to help her by serving as the facility's funeral director while she pursued a college degree.

After more than two years, she received her degree in mortuary sciences from the University of Central Oklahoma in August 2017 and passed her state board exams in December 2017.

Not only did she run the business and go to college, but she also raised her two children and was fortunate to meet and marry Blake Stephens in the middle of the process. She and his two children became a family of six in 2014.

"Blake was crucial to my ability to obtained my degree," Stephens said. "Without his support, I wouldn't have been able to be a mother, business owner and complete my degree."

Once she was licensed, she knew she wanted to own her own facility. One day after she had been researching available property and costs, her mother, Brenda Morrow, asked if she had considered the former Broccoli Restaurant site.

"I really hadn't thought about it and almost immediately realized it could work," Stephens said.

Perhaps the song from Little Women, "Some Things Are Meant to Be" should be her theme song.

Her father Guy Morrow is a general contractor and for the past three months, he has worked only on this project.

Along with her father, her mother, four kids and her husband, who works at Mill Creek Carpet and Tile, have worked seven days a week and nearly 10 hours a day to make Stephens' dream a reality.

Stephens said she designed her house 12 years ago and worked with her father on its construction.

But she has expanded her design and construction skills during this project including doing the stonework on the 600 feet across the front of the building.

Stephens mixed the mortar and pieced all of the stones one-by-one for nearly three weeks to give the front its distinctive look. She and her husband also laid all of the flooring throughout the facility.

"I had a budget and we couldn't afford to have someone do it, so I just did it," she said.

Just doing it, seems to describe her life.

If You Go

Stephens and her family will host an open house from noon until 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 30, and from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, to showcase the new facility, located at 10201 U.S. Highway 59, north of downtown Grove.