Napa Valley Funeral Home Closes, Owner Vows to Meet Clients’ Needs

December 4, 2009
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imageNapa Valley – Richard Pierce Funeral Home shut its doors late last month, bringing to a close a business that had been in the family for two generations.

Owner Bob Pierce said that factors including his own health and changes in the funeral business spurred the decision to close. He said Treadway & Wigger Funeral Chapel in Napa had agreed to honor the agreements Pierce had made with clients for funeral and burial services at Richard Pierce Funeral Home as well as Napa Valley Memorial Park and Inspiration Chapel.

In a prepared statement, Pierce said ?Richard Pierce Funeral Service has a proud heritage of serving families from Napa and the surrounding area for the past 160 years.?

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Pierce said the business was originally a furniture store ? and casket maker and funeral service ? that opened around the time that the land for Tulocay Cemetery was set aside to serve as a graveyard.

The funeral home has been located in what is now Cole?s Chophouse and on the so-called county superblock bounded by Third, Main, Fifth and Coombs streets. That?s where it was in 1945, when Richard Pierce acquired it with a partner.

After the county acquired the property in the late 1950s, the Cuff and Pierce Funeral Service chapel became the site of Napa County Superior Court Judge Wade Shiflett?s courtroom. Meanwhile, the business moved to its home for the next five decades, at Silverado Trail and Lincoln Avenue.

Pierce said the closure was prompted in part by changes in the funeral business, including ?a major shift from traditional funeral services to services that are of a more immediate nature; cremation, immediate burial without funeral services or without a funeral director.?

He also said his own health problems forced him to take a diminished role a few years ago, and that hurt the day-to-day operations of the business. Pierce was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and has been in hospice care for several months.

?I miss the ability to take care of families like I have done for the past 40 years,? Pierce said.

Ted Wigger of Treadway & Wigger conformed that his business will honor the terms of contracts between clients and Richard Pierce Funeral Service.

?Naturally,? Pierce emphasized in his prepared statement, ?families are free to select any funeral provider they wish. We have made arrangements for necessary burials to continue to be done at Napa Valley Memorial Park . We also have made arrangements for regular on-going maintenance and care of cemetery grounds.

?Lastly, there are some follow-up issues regarding memorial markers at Napa Valley Memorial Park and certified copies of death certificates. Let me assure the community that these items will be taken care of, although it may take several weeks to get it done correctly.?

Wigger said the financial pressures Pierce cited are affecting the entire industry, and predicted that the future will see consolidation. ?There will be fewer ? and larger ? funeral homes,? Wigger said.

As for the closure of Richard Pierce, Wigger said, ?It?s just sad.?

Source: Napa Valley Register

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