Adams Funeral Homes in Chester, Ludlow to close by early February

A sampling of Vermont funeral homes from Google.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Adams Funeral Homes & Cremation Services in Chester and Ludlow will be closing their doors by early February.

The two funeral homes have been managed under the Dignity Memorial brand, which is owned by Service Corporation International, the Houston, Texas, based company that, as of 2013, owned 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries in 45 states, eight Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to its website.

The Vermont homes are located at 35 Depot St. in Chester and 12 Meadow St. in Ludlow. And with the closing of Adams in Chester, there will be three commercial vacancies at the end of the Depot Street triangle. The others are the former Jiffy Mart, which vacated its space for newer and larger digs in late 2016, and the former Vermont Institute of Contemporary Art, which has been for sale since 2014.

In a statement issued by email Tuesday, the Dignity Memorial company wrote, “After careful analysis and consideration, we have made the decision to close the Adams Funeral Home firms located in Chester and Ludlow in late January or early February. These business decisions were made as a result of changing market conditions.”

When asked to explain  “market conditions,” the Telegraph did not receive a response by late Tuesday night.

Adams Funeral Home on Depot Street in Chester. Photo by Shawn Cunningham.

The company did say it would “continue to work through the details of serving our client families with preneed arrangements at these funeral homes and will communicate those plans prior to closing.”

Several questions remain unanswered by SCI, such as:

  1. If they own the buildings, what do they intend to do with them?
  2. Are there other Vermont SCI funeral homes that it intends to close? According to its website, SCI also owns Ker Westerlund in Brattleboro, but rumors of its sale to a New Hampshire firm could not be confirmed or denied by deadline.

If the rumors about Ker Westerlund are true, then it would appear that SCI is ending its endeavors completely in Vermont.

Scott Page, owner of Davis Memorial Chapel in Springfield — one of a handful of privately and locally owned funeral homes in the region — said he attributes the closing of the funeral homes at least in part to the corporate mentality of SCI. “They don’t have a connection with the community. They are nice guys,” he said, referring to the in-home managers, “but they are bound by corporate policy.”

Indeed, one noticeable item on the SCI website is its stock ticker at the top of each page.

Page said he grew up in Springfield and has worked in the funeral business in Chester, Bellows Falls and Springfield before buying Davis about 10 years ago.  “A lot of families have chosen to work with us because we are a family entity and we’re a little less expensive than corporate.”

“The big failure with any corporate entity is they don’t have the connection with the community. They miss the personal connection. Corporate should never be in the funeral home and cremation business. The corporate world has kind of missed that fact by concentrating on the business side.”

“I was born and raised in Springfield and worked in Chester and Bellows Falls and we know these families and are grieving right along with them.”

He added that profit margins have decreased with the rise in the use of cremations but,  “we’re rolling with the times. We’re working more and making less, but if that is what it takes to serve our families, I’m not going to steer someone to more expensive services.”

Page said that he was approached “a couple of years ago” about buying the Adams Funeral Homes. “I considered it somewhat, because of a personal, emotional connections. But it wasn’t feasible financially.”

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Raymond Makul says:

    When my mother passed away in 2015, Scott Page was very easy to work with. He has my full recommendation and endorsement.