- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

STOYSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Becoming the first seventh-generation funeral director in Pennsylvania was not in Lindsey Deaner’s plans.

But the 27-year-old Stoystown resident is happy her life has her following in her family’s footsteps.

“It wasn’t my first choice,” she said. “But it was always something in the back of my head.”

Deaner was born and raised in the funeral home - literally. Her family didn’t move out of the upstairs of the building until she was 10 years old. And that move just took them up the street from the Stoystown funeral home.

Her first love is sports. In high school Deaner played soccer, basketball and softball. After high school she obtained her bachelors and masters degrees in sports management from California University of Pennsylvania, where she played collegiate soccer.

But after graduation Deaner’s job search came up empty. So she decided to enter the family business instead.

“I decided this would be the best decision at that point,” she said.

To become a funeral director she would have to serve as an intern for one year under her father Don Deaner.

“I don’t know if I would want to learn from anyone else,” she said. “He has always been hard on me. He is harder on me than anyone else.”

Deaner admits it is not always easy.

“We can clash at times but we can always put that aside and have no problem working together.”

Deaner said there is not much about the job that bothers her.

“I’ve grown up in it,” she said. “The part that’s hard is when it is people who are close to you. You always have to remember that you are helping a family out.”

She said it takes a certain people skill to work with those who are grieving.

“It’s an honor to take care of families in one of the hardest times of their lives,” she said.

The history of the funeral home starts in 1820. David Ross’s grandfather was a supply sergeant in the war. He ran supplies on the Lincoln Highway and decided to live in Stonycreek Township. In those days viewings were held at people’s homes.

David Ross’s son Jacob Ross was the first to obtain a license when the state started issuing them in 1895. His son, Charles Ross was the first to attend embalming school in 1896.

Charles Ross had one child, a daughter named Francis. She married John Deaner, who attended school in Philadelphia in the 1935. Their son, Charles Deaner, took over the business in 1966. Don Deaner took over the business in the late 1980s. The funeral home has locations in Stoystown, Berlin and Hooversville.

“I don’t know of any seventh generation funeral directors in Pennsylvania,” Don Deaner said.

Deaner was the only hope to continue the family business. Her younger brother always wanted to be a doctor and is currently in medical school.

“No pressure there,” she quipped. “I’m the only way it continues now.”

Deaner said Don never pressured her to go into the family business. Don Deaner said he was nervous the family tradition would stop with him.

“We didn’t know,” Don Deaner said. “We figured we’d let the chips fall.”

Deaner said he learned from his father that being in the funeral home business is something you have to want to do.

“We truly believe in what we do,” he said. “It’s nice to see she cares about that too. We believe in our profession and it’s important to the families we serve to do the best job possible.”

Deaner still stays true to sports roots. She is the head girls basketball coach for Somerset high school.

“I don’t think I could fully get rid of that,” she said. “I put all of my extra time into coaching.”

Again, just like her father.

“My dad coached me when I was in school,” she said. “I watched him run from practice and go back to work.”

Following in her father’s footsteps is fine with Deaner.

“I always looked up to my dad,” she said. “I was always a daddy’s girl.”

One regret she does have is that her grandfather, Chuck Deaner, died before he could see her joining the family business. He died in May 2010.

“I still wish to this day I could get his support,” she said. “That was a hard pill to swallow. Family means so much to me.”

Even though she is not on the path she planned, she is excited about her future.

“I’m definitely proof life doesn’t always go as you planned,” she said. “I wouldn’t change the path I am on now.”

The Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association does not keep generational funeral director records.





Information from: Daily American, https://www.dailyamerican.com

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