ObitTree Blog

bordentown home for funerals

New Jersey Funeral Director Extends His Service Area

For many people, their understanding of death care is often limited to personal experiences. Thanks to a local funeral home, this is not the case for one Bordentown middle-school class. An innovative social studies teacher, Tom Ridolfi, decided to bring a multi-dimensional approach to the classroom when teaching his sixth-graders about death-care practices in ancient Egypt. Bordentown Home for Funerals – along with other entities including a Penn State Professor – responded enthusiastically to the call.


At first, the funeral director, Robert Pecht, was asked only to sponsor a portion of the online training program for $2000.00. He did that and more, offering to speak to the class directly about the history of death care and how it has developed over time.


Topics included the Greeks’ and Romans’ transition to cremation, where the term ‘Undertaker’ came from, and the Roman practice of hiring ‘paid-mourners.’


“It was a status symbol—the more people that would come to your funeral, the wealthier you were.”


He even enlightened the students on funeral practices they were more familiar with, such as why there is typically a visitation before the funeral ceremony. “Doctors were not experts in pronouncing people dead, and there was a big fear of being buried alive,” adding that coffins and caskets were built with certain failsafe mechanisms to ensure people were really dead before burial.


It is easy to think the process of embalming is an age-old tradition, however, because of Pecht’s teachings, the sixth graders at Bordentown Regional Middle School, now know the practice only became solidified when Thomas Holmes, the father of American Embalming, had to ensure Abraham Lincoln remained viewable to the public for 40 days, while his body traveled by train to Illinois.


This act of service in taking time to talk to local students about his profession and illuminating practices surrounding death is not an anomaly for Pecht. His career started out in serving his country in the Navy.  Unlike most of his peers he did not come from a long line of funeral directors, but rather a line of bakers from Newark and Irvington as well as construction workers and longshoremen from Brooklyn.


He made his way into the funeral industry under the guidance of a client at an answering service he was employed at. Many of his clients were funeral directors and one of the managers of a funeral home needed assistance. Shortly after starting his role there, his grandmother died. He picked up her body from the home and prepared it for a 4-day Italian funeral. Comforting his family, especially his mother, through this process felt like his calling to death care service.


 “I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world; I’m able to help people through the worst, most difficult thing they’re ever going to go through.”


In 2004, after receiving an education at American Academy of Mortuary Science in New York, he and his wife bought a funeral home from the Hartmanns who had owned the funeral home since 1932. Their picture still hangs in the lobby as a tribute to their dedication.


A lounge, dining room and a children’s activity area are just a few comforting amenities embodying Pecht’s commitment to serving his community and the people who walk through his doors.

mom and child's hands

A Letter To Mom

Dear Mom,


Growing up, you always taught me to be humble, to give more, and always say thanks. Not a birthday went by where you didn’t make me sit down and write a thankyou card for every gift I received. When my best friend’s family took me on vacation with them, you made sure that I let them know how grateful I was. When grandpa would fix the brakes on my bike, you made sure I went and cut his grass the next week.

Whenever something good happened, you made sure I let the person know how appreciative I was. It didn’t matter how big or small a gesture was, a thank you always followed.

But throughout everything, there was always one person who never asked for thanks. You made me thank everyone else, but never asked for it when you did something. I can’t change the past, but I can let you know that everything you did, did not go unnoticed, or unappreciated.


A mom’s job is tough. The hours are endless. It pays nothing. And in most cases, you don’t realize how much work goes on behind the scenes. You were the backbone of our family. The person who got everyone together for holidays. And the one who didn’t take a break until we were fed, had our baths and finished our homework.

It’s incredible how selfless you were.

From rushing home from work to take me to baseball practice, or helping me finish science projects late at night. You were always there. With a smile on your face, ready to take on anything.

As I got older, we fought. Someone was wrong, the other was right and we didn’t always see eye to eye. And even though I was rude, or grumpy or just plain selfish. You never stopped loving me.

You were my biggest supporter, loudest fan in the stands and always had my back.

When I went off to university, you didn’t make it to the highway before you started to tear up.

When I graduated, you were front and center with the camera in hand, and a smile that lit up the auditorium.

When I failed, you picked me up. When I wanted to quit, you said no. When I succeeded, you celebrated.

It’s truly amazing how much you actually did. With nothing asked for in return. But a hug when I left, or a “love you too” before I hung up the phone.


You made me thank everyone, but never asked for it yourself. I wish I would have said this when you were still here. So, thank you, for all of this and so much more.

Thank you for staying up with me when I had nightmares.

For taking the day off work to stay home when I was sick.

For knowing that something was wrong just by looking at me.

For loving me unconditionally, even though I was a total brat sometimes.

For sitting through hot baseball games, and driving across the country for tournaments.

For not telling dad when I did something I shouldn’t have.

For working overtime so I could have the shoes and clothes I wanted.

For the family vacations when money was tight.

And for always being there no matter what.

planning a funeral

Things People Forget When Planning A Funeral

While no two funerals are ever the same, the funeral planning checklist most people follow is almost always identical. The steps on these checklists include things like selecting a casket, choosing a plot, and purchasing flowers for the service. For many of us,  these steps are straightforward and seem like a no brainer. However, there are also many things that people often forget when planning a funeral.

Whether you a pre-planning your funeral or one for a relative who has passed away, it’s important to remember that a funeral is for the living, not the deceased. A funeral is about providing a family with closure and saying a final goodbye to a loved one. Too often when planning a funeral, the family makes choices off what they think the deceased would have liked. But this is the problem. The deceased isn’t here to enjoy it, and almost all of the guests aren’t going to remember these details either.

1. Have A Budget and Stick to It

It is important to have a budget and stick to it. A conversation about the funeral budget is one that every family should have. Make sure you know if your loved ones have already set money aside to cover funeral expenses when they pass away and how it can be accessed. You should also talk about how much of the estate should be spent on the funeral if there is no dedicated account. If you ask most people, they would rather their loved ones use the money for themselves than spend a large sum of it on the funeral expenses.

Ask yourself, at the last funeral you went to, do you remember what the casket looked like? Some families feel like the more expensive options should be purchased because it means you love and miss the deceased that much more. Ultimately it’s up to the family to decide what items they buy. With that in mind, try to decide if you feel like an individual item is necessary. If it is, then purchase it, but don’t put yourself over budget because of it. Having a dedicated budget will help make sure you give your loved one a dignified goodbye without putting any financial stress on your surviving family members.

2. Understand A Person’s Wishes

While a loved one’s will may specify their preferences, make sure the family also knows what they are. If you are unable to locate a will or if it doesn’t specify, your family may argue when deciding between burial or cremation. Some people want to embalmed so their family can have a viewing, others do not. These are all important decisions to make and talk about when planning a funeral. By having a talk with your family about how to care for your remains, you can make sure that they will follow your wishes and can have closure knowing that this is the option you wanted.

3. Make Sure Your Family Knows Where Your Important Papers Are Located 

An often overlooked aspect of funeral planning is making sure your family knows where they can find important paperwork when the time comes. This includes things like your will, bank account information, and life insurance policies. Whoever the executor of your estate is should know where all of these important pieces of paperwork are kept so that they can be easily obtained when legal paperwork is being filed, and funeral arrangements are being confirmed.

Final Thoughts

Planning a funeral involves so much more than just the actual arrangements for the service. What many people often forget is to make sure their family understands their wishes. This can be accomplished by having a talk about finances, caring for remains, and where to find important documents. Without this information, the process of planning a funeral can become very stressful for your family. Rather than comforting one another and preparing to say goodbye, their attention is on arranging the service.


Originally published by Colonial Funeral Home blog.


Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

Stephen Hawking
January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018


Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most renowned scientists has passed away at the age of 76 according to multiple reports. Hawking was best known for his book “A Brief History Of Time”.

Hawking was one of the most recognizable faces in the science community. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease would paralyze him and force him to speak through synthetic voice machine. Despite his illness, Hawking continued to make great strides in scientific research, specifically theoretical physics.

Hawking was born in Oxford, England to scholars who both attended the University of Oxford. As a student, Hawking described himself as an average student noting that he had messy handwriting and struggled with reading early on. During his early years, he had a fascination with machines and enjoyed learning about the intricacies of their parts and how everything worked together. During high school, he built a computer from parts he took from clocks and an old telephone switchboard.

Upon completing high school, Hawking enrolled in his parents’ alma mater, the University of Oxford. Mathematics had always been something he enjoyed, despite his father persisting that he should study medicine. Hawking would eventually settle on physics and chemistry. As a student, Hawking was a scholar and found his assignments to be too easy. He estimated that at most, he spent an hour a day on school work. Despite his minimal effort, Hawking excelled achieving top marks and admission into graduate school at the University of Cambridge.

During his final year at Oxford, Hawking would begin to show early signs of ALS. After his family began to notice his slurring words and clumsiness, they consulted several doctors. He was given the diagnosis in 1963 and told he had two years to live.

Despite his health issues, Hawking continued his studies at Cambridge pursuing a doctorate in cosmology and general relativity. Hawking was determined to complete his studies before the disease worsened. In 1966, he received his doctorate in cosmology, three years after his initial diagnosis.

By the early 1970’s, Hawking was bound to a wheelchair in order to get around. Despite this, he continued to make headway with his research. In 1974, he proved that black holes emit radiation and thus are not entirely black. The concept has since been referred to as “Hawking Radiation”.

After his first major discovery, Hawking received job offers from several prestigious employers. Hawking would become one of the youngest scientists to join the Royal Society, and eventually began teaching at the California Institute of Technology. After his time at Cal Tech, Hawking would return to be a professor at Cambridge.

By this time, his disease had worsened and Hawking was forced to speak through a synthesized voice machine. Even though his condition made it harder to work, Hawking continued to press forward. In 1988, he released his best seller, “A Brief History Of Time”. The popular book would bring science to the mainstream for the general public and inspire a generation of future scientists. Hawking would go on to write several other books including a series of children’s books he would co-write with his daughter.

Hawking’s work was not all science and research. He would go on to become a figure in pop culture and appeared on several television programs including “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory”. In 2014, his life was projected onto the big screen with the release of the Oscar-nominated film, “The Theory of Everything”.

Hawking was married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Jane Wilde, whom he met during his time at Cambridge. Together the couple would have three children: Robert, Lucy and Timothy. Hawking and Wilde separated in 1990 and finally divorced in 1995. Shortly after his divorce, Hawking would marry one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The couple divorced as well in 2006.

Hawking is survived by his two ex-wives, three children and three grandchildren.

Following the news of his death, many celebrities and members of the scientific community expressed their condolences on social media.

couple on couch

Remembering Your Grandparent’s On Grandparent’s Day

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Parent’s Day are all important dates to set aside time to thank our parents for everything they’ve done for us. Some of the most important people in our life that are often overlooked however are our grandparents. Grandparents play a vital role in the upbringing of a child by being there to offer love and support.

For most people, your grandparents were most likely the people your mom and dad would turn to when they needed help with you and your siblings. A grandparent is often the first call for a babysitter, emergency contact, or just to give your parents a break. Thinking back to my childhood, some of my favorite memories come from spending time with my nana and grandpa. To this day, I still haven’t found a better cook than my Nana. Likewise, I’ve yet to find someone who can offer better wisdom than my Grandpa.

Each year on the first Sunday after Labor Day, we celebrate Grandparents Day.

This is a day dedicated to saying thanks to your grandparents for everything they’ve done to help you over the years. If your grandparents are no longer here though, celebrating the day can be a stressful time for some people. Today we’ll look at different ways to celebrate Grandparents’ Day and pay tribute to them.

Ways To Celebrate Grandparents Day

Play A Memorial Tribute Game

Try to think about funny stories, things your grandparents often said or did, and other unique or quirky things about them. From there, turn these stories into questions and play a trivia game with your family. It will give everyone a chance to reflect over memories they may have forgotten and serve as a way to share stories.

Make Your Grandma’s Signature Dish

It’s an undeniable fact that grandma’s make some of the best meals. Growing up, your grandma probably taught you how to cook some of these amazing dishes. Most families like to past down recipes from generation to generation. Celebrate your grandma on this day by cooking one of the meals she taught you. It probably won’t taste as good as she made it, but you’ll feel connected to her all the same.

Look Through Old Scrapbooks

Before the days of social media, people used scrapbooks to organize photographs and precious memories. Take some time to look through old photo albums and reflect on their life. You’ll probably come across photos of you and grandparents from when you were little that you don’t remember. Who knows, you may even get to see pictures of them before they were grandma and grandpa when they were young and adventurous. Remember those crazy stories about your grandparents you never believed? Those memories are probably captured somewhere in a scrap book.

Spend A Day Doing What They Loved

What was the one thing your grandma or grandpa loved doing more than anything else? One of the best ways to pay tribute to them is by spending the day doing an activity they loved. Maybe they loved to have barbeques, spend the afternoon golfing, or go to the ballgame. Consider doing that activity with members of your family. You’ll enjoy spending the time together and will feel connected to them, even though they’re gone.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing grief and missing your grandparents on Grandparent’s Day is a common experience. Celebrating you’re their lives may just be the thing you need to feel connected to them on the day. Experts agree, listen to your heart and only do as much as you are able. You may not want to do anything at all, that’s okay too.


What are your favorite memories of your grandparents? Let us know in the comment section!