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A new year-- familiar names lead the way

By Rod Lee
The dawn of a new year is always a time for reflection, a setting of goals and objectives. The making of resolutions; true in the business community as in other spheres.

This surely must be a harder proposition for enterprises here in the Blackstone Valley that are not yet firmly established than it is for ones with a solid foothold.

It also must be more difficult for those ventures that are unable to draw on a family name that is widely known and revered.

Across the southern Blackstone Valley there exist companies with stellar track records and the longevity to go with it that generate in people seeking goods and services an instantaneous sense of familiarity—and trust. In large part because of the name attached to them.

  A big advantage, you would think, when you are a Koopman Lumber (since 1938, three generations, seven stores in Massachusetts, 186 local jobs), a Nydam Oil (since 1948), an Osterman Propane LLC (more than fifty years, three generations), a Gaudette Insurance (since 1926, Lee Gaudette now at the helm), a Sundeen Furniture (which opened in downtown Uxbridge in 1983 and then moved to Providence Road in Linwood in 2000, headed by Scott Sundeen), a Haagsma Insurance (celebrating 29 years on Church St. in Whitinsville, operated by Jim and Denise Haagsma), a Whitin Community Center which evokes the name of one of the town of Northbridge’s historic families.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in talking about Buma Funeral Home, Carr Funeral Home and Tancrell Funeral Home (also Tancrell-Jackman). Three institutions that between them boast more than two centuries of service to the area.

Buma, now represented by Richard and James Buma, is three generations. Jackman was started by Gerald E. Jackman Jr. in 1932 (with help from his wife Mary Jackman, when she wasn’t working as a nurse). Gerald III came in in 1949. Current Proprietor Gerald Jackman is third generation. Carr is the granddaddy of them all. Six generations now that Heather Carr Reiter has joined her father, Doug Carr Jr., in the family business.

Originally launched as a livery stable and blacksmith shop by Hiall C. Carr, the business quickly evolved. Hiall Carr began renting hearses and wagons for use at funerals and was soon providing caskets and directing funerals. His sons Loammi and Samuel got involved, then Samuel’s son Morton H. Carr who was the first in the family to formally study funeral directing and embalming (Mort Carr introduced the motorized hearse to the region). Morton’s son Douglas S. Carr came into the picture in 1941.

Doug Carr Jr. says “it’s nice, a lot of people respect us for the service we have offered to multiple generations. You can’t put a price tag on that.

 “We are at 165 years and still trying to get it right!” he laughed.

To all businesses, whether new or old, Happy New Year.

Rod Lee is an author, career journalist, longtime observer of the Blackstone Valley scene and president of the Webster Square Business Association in Worcester. Contact him at rodlee.1963@gmail.com or 774-232-2999.

Carr Funeral Home on Hill St. in Whitinsville.