J.M. Curry Funeral Home remains an independent business in Glace Bay under new operator
J.M. Curry Funeral Home remains an independent business under new operator.
As an independent funeral home that’s been a family operation for more than a century, J.M. Curry Funeral Home Ltd. have served four, in some cases, five generations of families.
Three generations of Curry family members have operated the funeral home since 1908.
However, that long run ended last year when owner Michael Curry retired and sold the business to Mansie Labelle of Glace Bay.
While Labelle bought the funeral home, managing director Kirk Neville handles its day-today operation.
Neville, originally from Glace Bay, has worked as a funeral director for the past 15 years in Truro, Fredericton, N.B., North Sydney, and in his hometown for four years now.
Neville emphasized that, even with Michael Curry and his brother Joe Curry’s retirement from the business, it’s still very much a “family-focused” operation.
“Most of the time we see peo- ple stick with the funeral home that grandma or grandpa did. That’s typical,” he said.
“But now we’re seeing new families become clients. I can tell you last year we had three families that had been at other funeral homes and just through some personal contacts decided to come here.
“They were very happy with how we arrange things and assisted them in the process from the time the person passed away until the service and cemetery interment was completed.”
Neville works with three parttime employees who have years of experience in the funeral home industry.
It’s a challenging job always on-call, having to attend to a grieving family at any point in the day. Though Neville said he deals with grief and sadness regularly, there are ways to cope without feeling a heavy burden weighing on him each workday.
“You have to have some kind of faith and I don’t mean religious or other and positive thinking, which is what I use quite often,” he said.
He asks families simple, yet important, questions about the life of their departed loved one. It helps to get the conversation flowing and moving their thought patterns away from the death itself.
“I would ask questions like: ‘ What did the enjoy doing? What were their hobbies?’ With a lot of men, the family will tell me what was their favourite baseball or hockey team so you can make a little joke about that.
“You’ll see their facial expression change because now they’re talking about the good memories and what they loved and enjoyed about that person so they’re not focusing on the fact that they are physically gone.”
Some questions are delicate, but Neville said it’s about making the process as easy and pain-free as possible.
Despite retiring from the job full-time, Joe Curry still does attend to the occasional funeral. Keith Wilcox has worked at Curry’s since 1980. In October, Rita Tompkins, who has two decades of experience in the field, was hired.
Curry’s handles, on average, 80 funerals each year, Neville said.
He said it’s commonplace for Joe Curry to assist on the day of the funeral for those who request him, while Michael Curry is no longer hands-on but often calls the family to offer his personal condolences.
“Where we’re doing 80 funerals (a year) we have more time to spend with the family one-onone. And where we may know them somehow, we basically know what they’re looking for and can afford,” Neville said.
Kirk Neville is the managing director of J.M. Curry Funeral Home Ltd. in Glace Bay. Neville, and three part-time employees, operate the funeral home. Previous owners Micheal and Joe Curry still attend to funeral arrangements upon request, says Neville.