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Tenn. company buys 3 Valley funeral homes

YOUNGSTOWN — Three locally owned funeral homes cited succession planning as their reason for selling to Heritage Family Funeral Services, a Tennessee-based funeral service provider.

Earlier this week, the owners of Lane Family Funeral Homes, Becker Funeral Homes and Baumgardner Funeral & Cremation Service met with their employees about the changes in ownership.

Kelly L. Becker said it’s a decision that she and her father have been struggling with for years. She said there isn’t a family member in line to succeed them if something were to happen to either of them.

“We want to see the legacy of our funeral business carry on, as well as provide job security for our employees if something should happen to my father or myself,” Becker said.

Becker Funeral Homes was founded in 1896 by Dan Davidson and Jesse Cunningham.

Originally it was called Cunningham-Davidson Funeral homes and operated from a storefront on Water Street in Lowellville. The funeral home’s history spans 126 years with locations in Lowellville, Struthers, Poland and Boardman.

Joseph Lane, president and CEO of Lane Companies, said after heartfelt consideration, he decided to sell.

“At some point in our lives we all have to take a sincere look at what the future looks like. We have to realistically think of all the possibilities and their impact on us, and those we care about. That being said, this is indeed the right decision for my family, our employees, and all the communities we have served and will continue to serve,” Lane said.

Lane Family Funeral Homes is the oldest of the three funeral homes with a 167-year history dating back to 1855.

Jodi Baumgardner Poole, co-owner of Baumgardner with her cousin, Pamela Baumgardner Toth, represents the third generation of family that has led the business.

The funeral home with locations in Kinsman and Andover has provided services since its founding in 1944.

“We needed to have a succession plan in place to continue providing quality, caring funeral service to our communities. We are confident that families and our employees will be well taken

care of in the future,” Baumgardner Poole said.

HFFS is a family-based funeral home founded over 70 years ago in Elizabethton, Tenn., originally run by a father-son duo. Several family funeral homes have chosen HFFS as a successor, including funeral homes in Cuyahoga and Stark counties.

“Heritage has a much broader range of resources to maintain the high standards that our families are accustomed to plus better quality-of-life benefits for our employees,” Becker said.

Moving forward, the staff and owners from the three funeral homes will continue with their companies or by providing consulting services. The regime change takes effect at the end of the year.

The funeral homes will not change their names.

cmcbride@tribtoday.com

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