Photo by Jenna Bagcal/THE COURIER
Queens family-owned funeral homes struggle to stay afl oat
BY JENNA BAGCAL
Family-owned funeral homes in Queens
are in decline, according to numerous
local funeral directors across the “World’s
Th is year alone, several family-owned
and -operated funeral homes in the borough
have been acquired by bigger companies
or sold for real estate, including
Conway Funeral Home in Jackson
Heights, C. Johann & Son in College
Point and Quinn Fogarty in Flushing.
But John Golden, owner and operator
of Martin A. Gleason Funeral Homes,
says that the changing industry is not
benefi cial to the communities they serve.
Golden has worked at Gleason since 1981
and bought the business from original
owners John and Marty Gleason in 2000.
“Th e phrase ‘family-owned and -operated’
evokes a warmth,” Golden said.
“Typically, family-owned and -operated
businesses had proprietors and employees
who lived in the communities they
served. Th ey were accountable to the
community and were integral to the fabric
of what made a community function
He said that the Gleasons had the
opportunity to sell the funeral home to
a big corporation, but declined due to
their feelings that their business “is akin
to a vocation” and should serve the community.
Recently, Golden confirmed that
he acquired Lloyd’s Funeral Home in
Bayside, another family-owned business.
He operates the funeral home under the
same name and number from Gleason’s
Bayside facility, which he said customers
Golden shared that bigger companies
may not provide the same personalized
service as family-run operations.
“Management is oft en removed from
day-to-day operations,” said Golden,
who added that corporate chains in
Queens oft en outsource the work they do
to companies out of state as opposed to
off ering in-house services like at Gleason.
John Hoey, the owner of O’Shea-Hoey
Funeral Home in Astoria echoes Golden’s
sentiments. Hoey’s family has owned the
funeral home, at 29-13 Ditmars Blvd.,
since 1967, when they purchased it from
the O’Shea family. Th e owner said that
the services they are able to provide to
customers are more “personable” than
services off ered by bigger corporations.
“We provide the same service and the
same funeral for a fraction of the cost,
with a personal touch that you, your
family and loved ones deserve. We provide
all services at our funeral home. We
are not just a cremation service or some
new internet website business. We are
experienced funeral directors, who are
here to help you plan a dignifi ed funeral,”
as noted on the O’Shea-Hoey Funeral
Both Golden and Hoey attribute the
decline in family-owned businesses to
the rising property values in the area,
making it more diffi cult to stay open.
Hoey said that the smaller funeral homes
have been closing down over the last
four or fi ve years. According to Golden,
funeral homes all over the New York City
and in Nassau County in Long Island
have fallen prey to rising property values.
“Th e costs make it more expensive
to run. Real estate is a lot more money
now,” said Hoey.
But Hoey said that the rise of corporation
owned funeral homes has also been
pushing customers to patronize O’Shea-
Hoey. “Th e advantage is that the prices
for the bigger guys is higher, which is
helping me,” he said.
Despite the staying power of these two
family-run businesses rising costs in the
area make the future uncertain.
“I think it’ll keep being a trend,” said
Hoey. “I think a lot of people are gonna
close down even more.”
Golden said that the solution is to
make people aware about which business
are family-run and which are not
in order for them to stay afl oat in the
“It is imperative that customers know
what kind of business they are dealing
with: a family-owned and -operated
one or a corporation. Th ey may make all
the diff erence in their experience,” said
Martin A. Gleason Funeral Home in Bayside, Queens.