By Steve Sears
Norman Dean and his wife, Carolyn, opened in 1957 not just a funeral home, but a special place for those who are mourning a beloved family member be comforted in a place that could be (and is) a ‘home.’”
62 years later, son and co-owner Tom Dean, as well as fellow co-owner David Milne, still echo and live that past and assure that same care, love, and respect reign today for folks in Denville, Rockaway, Parsippany, Mountain Lakes, Boonton, Morris Plains, and the surrounding area who come with their needs to Norman Dean Home for Services.
“Dad always wanted it to be an atmosphere where people could feel comfortable coming in like it was their own home,” says Dean, “because back in the early 1900s, everything was done in someone’s home. My dad was all about service – hence the name Norman Dean Home for Services. It wasn’t about selling products; it was helping families go from the loss to the burial and moving on from there.”
Care, comfort, understanding, and guidance at a critical time, and the knowledge that there are no cookie-cutter funerals. “Guidance is extremely important because people don’t know what they want, they have no idea,” says Dean. “They just go by what they’ve seen, and find out later and say, ‘Wait a minute, let’s talk about this before you actually say that’s what we’re going to do.” Let’s find out what the family wants. With one family you could have two or three different ideas. So that’s when we have to sit down and explain things to people and let them know what they can do.”
Dean then alludes to the key thing. “It’s about family. We all create relationships with the families. It’s about trust, and how they can trust us. A lot of times we create relationships with them that last for years.”
Milne has grown up in and is now a partner in the business. As Dean in 1986 took over from his parents, he as he retires has passed the baton to Milne, knowing the Norman Dean Home for Services is in excellent hands. “I learned when I came here that a lot of the stuff that I learned in the school – meaning merchandising – kind of went out the window, and I was kind of happy about that,” affirms Milne. “Like Tom said, it’s not about products but caring for people. Once I learned that, I felt immediately comfortable that I was in the right place.”
“David and I,” says Dean, “share the same values that my parents and I had and have, so it was important that we do this (the partnership) correctly. It took a year and a half, but it was good for David, it was good for me, and it was extremely good for the community because it keeps the same atmosphere. This isn’t just a business; we are part of the community. We go out, we give talks, we give advice, we have people stop in and talk to us about pre-arrangements, and we understand the laws because that’s our industry.”
Dean also relates an example of the special Norman Dean Home for Services personal touch. “We bring ideas to the families. Making things personal; doing things that they don’t think they’d be allowed to do or ever would’ve thought of. We’ve always been focused on what the family’s needs are, and it’s been expanded to a little more about celebrating that person’s life by introducing into the funeral home itself parts of what that person did in their life.” One example was a woman who died many years ago, the family commenting constantly about her love of baking. Milne approached a friend who owned a store and borrowed a brand-new oven, placed it next to the casket in the funeral home, collected all the recipes the family agreed to share, “and people walked in and there it was,” says Dean. “These represent what that person meant to the family, and it doesn’t cost anything. It’s free.” And it’s the difference. “My employees are into listening to what the family tells about the deceased. They go out of their way to make it special so that all of their friends and relatives look at it and say, ‘Wow! That’s amazing.’”
“We celebrate and give nothing but 100% service and guidance to the family.”
Norman Dean Home for Services is located at 16 Righter Avenue in Denville, and can be reached by calling (973) 627-1880, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.normandean.com for more information.