The name of my family’s funeral home was The John P. Donohue Funeral Home, named after my dad, the esteemed funeral director that he was. It’s also the family business that was started in 1898 by my great grandfather with the same name and his brother, Nicholas, who were the sons of Irish immigrants from County Kerry, Ireland.
Nicholas contracted tuberculosis in the Spanish American War so John continued on with the fledgling business, but during the influenza pandemic in 1918, business exploded. Thousands of people died in Philadelphia, so let’s just say it was a good business to be in at the time.
By 1938 my grandfather Nicholas opened a very successful funeral home at 54th and Market Street in Philadelphia (it’s a ghetto now). He ran it with his younger brothers and when my father was old enough he started working there too. Eventually my grandfather died and my dad’s uncles opened a new funeral home a few miles away in Upper Darby. My dad worked there for awhile and wanted to be a partner, but for some reason they didn’t want that, so my dad went off and opened his own place and for 30 years had to compete with his uncles for business.
My dad ran a very successful business that started out of his mother’s row home that was on the corner of Walnut Street and Copley Road in Upper Darby, right outside of West Philadelphia. Over the next ten years he bought the next two row homes and the walls of those houses were knocked down to create a nice, big family-sized funeral home.
1st picture is my great grandfather, John P. Donohue
2nd picture is my grandfather, Nicholas C. Donohue
3rd picture is my dad, John P. Donohue II
4th picture is my great grandfather’s hearse
5th and 6th pictures are my family’s funeral home. After my dad retired he sold it to another funeral home, but the contract stated that they had to keep my dad’s name.