Great Bend merchant, J. Lester Cox, opened a furniture store and funeral parlor in downtown Great Bend in 1899. He started his business, Great Bend Furniture Company, on the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Street and Broadway Avenue. He later moved his business to the 1400 block of Main Street.
In 1932, Cox closed the furniture portion of the firm to devote his attention to funeral service. Cox also was one of the founders of the Kansas Board of Embalming, giving more examinations and issuing more licenses while serving on the board than any other person. He sold the funeral home in 1937. Cox died February 25, 1958.