Resting In Peace

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Very few people tend to stop and consider what’s really going on within the walls of a funeral home. But the funeral business can be one of tFuneralHome_080515Ahe most stressful—yet rewarding—fields to work in.

The Massapequa Funeral Home is a family-owned and operated firm that, for decades, has been helping to usher the grieving through some of the harshest times of their lives, according to owner and lifelong Massapequa resident Travis Nicholson.

The funeral home was founded in 1945 by his grandfather, and later taken over by his father until he himself passed away in 1990. Nicholson then took its reins and currently runs the day-to-day operations of the business, which he noted is steeped in tradition and  history.

“The first location of the funeral home was at 99 New York Ave., which is now known as the Marine Corps League by the firehouse on Hicksville Road,” he said. “My grandfather purchased the house from Marjorie Post, and turned it into the first Massapequa Funeral Home.”

That location was eventually sold, and the funeral home’s current location at 1050 Park Blvd. was constructed in 1970. A second location was opened in 2001 at 4980 Merrick Rd., and the day that Nicholson got the official OK to open its doors was overshadowed by a tragic event.

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From left: Funeral director Joseph McGuigan, owner Travis Nicholson and funeral director Anthony Preziosi (Photos by Chris Boyle)

“I actually got permission from the fire marshal to open this building on the morning of 9/11,” he said. “We were standing in the parking lot and we could smell the smoke in the air. The fire marshal said, ‘here’s your certificate, you’re good to go.’ That day I will never forget. Unfortunately, some of the first people that came through these doors were 9/11 victims.”

When being entrusted with the final preparations for a loved one’s funeral services, Nicholson said that each new situation is no less moving, nor lacking in attention to detail. The comfort of the family is their top concern.

“We’ll get a call from someone who has suffered a loss, and they will come in and sit down with one of us and put together the funeral,” he said. “Every family is different…we sit down with them and find out how many days they want to visit, what church they’re going to and we put everything together. That’s the beginning.”

Anthony Preziosi, funeral director for the past 33 years and a Massapequa resident, said that the services they provide to the departed and their family are both complex and numerous, but always carried out with compassion and care.

“We bring people’s loved ones back here and begin the necessary preparations for the viewing,” said Preziosi. “We do all of that behind the scenes…the embalming, we dress the deceased and make them presentable for the family. Burial or cremation, we handle it all for them.”

In addition, there’s a lot of work in dealing with the churches and cemeteries, as well as coordinating services with any organizations the deceased may have belonged to, such as the Military, the Knights of Columbus or the VFW.

“If a family wants to do something non-traditional, absolutely. If that’s going to bring meaning to you and your family, we’ll do it,” he said. “We’vFuneralHome_080515De even had motorcycles in the building because personalization is the future of this business. What was your loved one into? Fishing poles, golf clubs, pets? Bring them along. We had a young man who had surfboards and skateboards set up, and it tells a story of the person’s life.”

Working in a funeral home can be full of trials and tribulations, Preziosi said, but it is also one of the most gratifying jobs you could ever hope for.

“To be able to help a family through their time of need is so wonderful. At the end of the day, when you know that you’ve helped someone through a tough time, it’s all worth it,” he said. “It’s a unique job, but it’s not an easy one.”

Nicholson said that it has been a great family legacy to have inherited.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I live in the community, and the people I serve live in this community…it’s very rewarding,” he said. “When a family calls you to take care of their most valuable thing in the world—their loved one—it means a lot, that trust.”

To find out more, visit www.massapequafuneralhome.com  .

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