Sold after 84 years
After years of supporting bereaved families, Graeme and Fay Waterson made the decision in October 2006 to sell their business, Watersons Funeral Services after owning it for 84 years.
This was an emotional time for the couple then, especially as it was such a big part of their family business group.
Watersons Funeral Services first opened in 1922, when Graeme’s father Don and his business partner bought their first hearse, and advertised funeral services in the local newspaper.
Graeme started in the businesses near on 60 years ago, polishing caskets his father would make when there was a lull in the furniture making business.
In the early years the deceased were usually taken home and services were conducted there - there was rarely a church service and definitely no funeral homes.
Usually funerals were held within three days of death, embalming was rarely used. There were no cremations and most burials were at the Matamata Cemetery.
In 1940, the Rosa Chapel was built at the current Tamihana St premises as the urging of Graeme’s mother, who saw that people had drifted away from their churches.
A resurgence of church building in Matamata in the 1960s saw church funerals become more popular again, with bigger facilities on offer.
The mortuary was built around 1980, with the current funeral complex building being erected in 1995.
At the time of selling the business in 2006, an article was published in the Matamata Chronicle where Graeme said that there was more to being a funeral director than organising the practical details – their role was to assist the family with the grieving process.
He and Fay tried to allow people to grieve in their own way, while providing contacts for people to talk to as well as literature and support.
He said that they learnt a lot from the Maori people about how to honour the deceased and how to grieve and have closure.
Since selling the business, Fay and Graeme still have plenty to keep them occupied.
Watersons Funeral Services Matamata was the main site for three funeral service sites, with rooms in Te Aroha and Putaruru.
All were sold as part of a business division and now trades as Matamata & Valley Funeral Services.
Graeme still has an active role in the business and both he and Fay still own Watersons Monumental Services.