Passantino Bros. Funeral Home, 2117 Independence Blvd., has served the Historic Northeast since it was established in January of 1930 by Charles, George and Rosario Passantino.
Charles Passantino’s interest was sparked when he got a job as a chauffeur for funeral homes. He and his brothers moved into the home, which was surrounded by other mansions, and at one time 14 family members lived there.
The brothers passed their attentive and caring service on to the second generation, cousins Leonard and Buddy Passantino. Leonard’s son Charlie Passantino, who was licensed as a funeral director in 1981, continues the family’s legacy today.
Over the years, services have adapted to the growing and changing needs of the community. These days, more people are considering cremation than when the business began.
The home in which the business started has grown, as well. From the time it was built around 1890, the house has been expanded an estimated nine times. The home started out as a residence, but transitioned to a funeral home when people began looking to hold funeral services outside their family homes.
While the physical building hasn’t expanded since the 1960s, technology has contributed an additional personal touch to services.
“We do all of that, even down to putting playlists together for background music,” Funeral Director and Embalmer Gary Bertoncin said. “Those are things that we find are very important, most families do, too.”
In a society where people are constantly on the go and busier than ever, funerals have turned into family reunions of sorts as extended families gather to celebrate life, reminisce about loved ones and catch up.
Being locally owned and family run provides them the flexibility to meet unique family wishes and traditions for a variety of ethnic and religions backgrounds.
While the majority of the families they serve have always been Italian, they have held Buddhist services for Vietnamese refugees dating back to the 1970s when they settled in the Northeast.
“The biggest advantage is that the owner of the funeral home is the final say on whatever we do,” Bertoncin said. “If a family has a special request, if they’ve got special needs that they need met, we don’t have to go up a corporate chain in order to get that approved.”
Another advantage is cost. As an independent business, Passantino Bros. has been able to keep prices reasonable throughout the nine decades they’ve been in business.
Bertoncin got into the business at a young age, and views helping families as a form of secular ministry.
“You become well aware that we are mortal,” Bertoncin said. “You can look at it two ways – you can find it a burden that you know your time’s limited, but in a lot of ways it’s kind of peaceful, too, because you constantly remind yourself to live for now because you never know what tomorrow brings.”
Passantino Bros. Funeral Home staff is available 24/7 by calling their main number at (816) 471-2844 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.