Reverence for the dead and the rituals surrounding funerals are an intrinsic part of Irish culture, and leading the way in Westchester County, New York is Corkman Clive Anderson.
Now in his mid-30’s, Anderson bought Pelham Funeral Home, just north of Yonkers, three years ago and says the ethos of his funeral parlor is: “Taking care of one family at a time, giving them the highest level of service possible… at a very affordable cost.”
And for many families cost is key: nationwide the average cost of a funeral is $7,000, but Anderson has overseen services that cost as much as $17,000 and as little as $3,000.
Ultimately it comes down to what the deceased or their family wants from a service, and Anderson and his staff are there to help plan it, be it in advance or in sensitive times of grief.
“A funeral’s a life event. We plan for most life events: Christening, first Holy Communion, 50th wedding anniversary.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t plan for a funeral as well. It is something that people don’t like to talk about, but it’s bit like a will.
“Just because you make a funeral arrangement does not mean you’re going to pass away in the morning,” he says with a kind understanding of how wary people can be to make such arrangements, even if it is the smartest move.
Anderson knew his calling was to be a funeral director at the age of 15 when he lost his father to cancer. To this day, it remains just that for him – not simply a job, but a calling to support families and offer them comfort and stability in a time of grief.
He began his career in Ireland, at the prominent Jerh O’Connor & Sons Funeral Home in Co. Cork, with the same undertaker who had helped his family with his father’s funeral, before immigrating to the United States and spending many years as a funeral service consultant for Matthews International. He went to mortuary school at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and completed the two-year associate degree and apprenticeship at the same time.
On February 7, 2014, Anderson’s dream of owning his own funeral home came true when he purchased the Pelham Funeral Home from the children of its founder, James Flood, who opened the Pelham institution in 1946.
Flood, who began his career in 1935, was the longest licensed undertaker and embalmer in New York state and was considered to be a legend in his profession until his passing in 2002. He had expanded the Pelham Funeral Home to its current size in 1971 when he added a showroom in order to allow families more space to peruse the different choices involved in planning a funeral, such as caskets.
If the testimonials Anderson has received in his three years running Pelham are any indication, Flood would be deeply proud of the man continuing his history of serving Westchester County in times of mourning.
"During an emotionally stressful time such as this, it is such a comfort to use a funeral home that takes care of the family's needs so compassionately and efficiently,” wrote Evelyn R. of Pelham Village. “Clive Anderson and his staff did an exemplary job of making sure the funeral service and visitation were meaningful experiences. He explained everything thoroughly and I never felt pressured to buy anything I didn't want or need. What a relief to be able to hand over all the funeral details to Pelham Funeral Home and be able to focus on my family. I couldn't recommend them more highly."
"I just can't say enough good things about Clive Anderson and the incredible care and effort he made to help our family. What a beautiful setting he provided to honor my mother,” wrote Suzan M. of Manhattan. “From the collage poster, the memory book, and the picture that friends and family could sign to leave us notes about their wishes and memories of mom. He was available 24/7 and helped pave the way with our dealings with the cemetery as well as the florist.
"He was reassuring, thoughtful and held our hand every step of the way. It was also a relief that we had some options with him for financial arrangements, certainly a big load off of our shoulders at this time. I have never experienced this in any other venue I've been to for friends.”
Kind, compassionate, and thorough work indeed.
For more information, visit pelhamfuneral.com or call 914-738-1060