Business Review: Comforting the bereaved for 6 decades

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Photos by Anthony Machcinski Interior and exterior of Mulligan Funeral Home.

Photos by Anthony Machcinski
Interior and exterior of Mulligan Funeral Home.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Since the late 1800s, the Mulligan family has served generations of Harrison residents. The last three generations of Mulligans, including Frank Mulligan III, have served Harrison through Mulligan Funeral Home.

“It means a lot to me to carry on my family’s legacy,” explained Mulligan III. “It means a lot to carry on the name and I hope they’re proud of me.”

The Mulligan family name is embedded deep within the roots of Harrison. John Mulligan, an Irish immigrant, came to Harrison and opened a coal and ice business on Harrison Ave. His son, Aloysius Mulligan, built the original home and his doctor’s office at 331 Cleveland Ave., and was soon followed by his son in the family practice.

In 1946, Frank Mulligan Sr. was en route to continuing the family doctor’s practice, but was unable to continue his education following World War II. With several credits completed, Mulligan Sr. was able to attend mortuary school in New York City under the G.I. Bill and later opened Mulligan’s Funeral Home.

Since then the Mulligan family business has remained at the same Cleveland Ave. location. Frank Sr.’s son, Frank Jr., and his late wife Judith purchased the business upon his father’s retirement in 1982.

Mulligan III started working at the funeral home in high school, helping people around the funeral home; however, he never intended to get into the family business.

After obtaining a degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island and finding that the job wasn’t really for him, he began working as an intern at the funeral home and discovered his true passion, helping others in a time of need.

“At first, I didn’t think you could find satisfaction in such a job or vocation,” Mulligan explained. “I saw that there was satisfaction in helping people through a tough time in their lives. That was something that attracted me to it.”

Mulligan explained that in order to help the bereaved, he and his staff have to toe the line between comforting and focusing on their job.

“You want to identify with them, but you have a job to do and you want to make it the best experience you can for them,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan said what is most rewarding, is the gratitude he receives from families after the services.

“When the funeral is over and the people tell you that you made the experience that much better, that’s the satisfaction,” Mulligan said. “We try to treat the family as if they were like our own and guide them through the decisions that they have to make.”

While Mulligan may not have expected to become a funeral director, he believes that carrying on the family’s legacy is a great honor.

“It means more to me now than I ever thought it would,” Mulligan explained. “I wasn’t really thinking of that when I wanted to be an oceanographer. As I got older, there’s no better honor that can be bestowed upon me (than to carry on the family’s tradition).”

He continued, “I realized carrying on the family’s name is huge because so many funeral homes over the years have sold out to larger corporations. Although the name continues, there’s no one in the funeral home with that name. It’s a big honor to carry on the name.”

As for the future of the business, Mulligan hopes to continue building on the family’s legacy.

“I plan on carrying on my family’s name and always thought of expanding,” Mulligan said. “But for now, I hope to serve families in the West Hudson and surrounding areas with the highest level of dignity and respect the best way that we can.”

Mulligan Funeral Home is located at 331 Cleveland Ave. in Harrison. For more information, visit the website at www.mulliganfuneralhome.org or call 973-481-4333.

The Observer Staff