Ernest C. Caggiano has been the president of Caggiano-O’Maley Funeral Home on Winthrop Street since 1970.
But the family’s ownership dates back way beyond that.
“My father [Ernest P. Caggiano] founded it here in 1947 when he purchased the Richard H. White Funeral Home,” said Caggiano. “Prior to that, he started in East Boston as the Caggiano Funeral Home in 1927.”
That’s 85 years of making sure that a person’s final tribute is conducted with the utmost professionalism, dignity, and care.
And the numerous industry awards and the Winthrop community itself that have been calling on the Caggiano family for their guidance and expertise at an emotional time say that Caggiano-O’Maley has been doing it right for close to nine decades.
The 77-year-old Caggiano has been a Winthrop resident since 1941 when his parents lived on Main Street. Caggiano and his wife, Nettie, raised their four children – Lisa, E. Christopher, Peter A., and the Rev. Mark J.T.- in Winthrop. Next year, he’ll celebrate his fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Upon his father’s retirement in 1970, Caggiano took over the administration of the funeral home. He takes pride in his family’s record of service and the stately elegance of the home itself.
“I think we have the finest facility in the town,” said Caggiano, who acquired O’Maley Funeral Home in January, 2011. “We’re constantly improving it. We just made the funeral home completely handicapped accessible. We’re constantly upgrading the facility.”
Caggiano said his family has continued the tradition of the O’Maley Funeral Home on Atlantic Street that was the oldest funeral facility in Winthrop, having been founded in the early 1900s.
Caggiano said that family ownership of the home – as opposed to large chains that are now prevalent in the industry – allows him to make vital decisions that benefit families making their funeral arrangements.
“The difference is, primarily, we have the latitude to serve families who may not have the financial wherewithal – we can be flexible,” said Caggiano. We’re not limited to corporate decisions and mandates. We would never turn anyone away. And we maintain a tradition, a heritage, and level of personally serving families that goes back 85 years.”
The family is poised to enter its fourth generation in the industry. Peter A. Caggiano Jr., grandson of Ernest C. Caggiano and son of funeral home vice president Peter A. Caggiano Sr., attends Mount Ida College and is studying to become a licensed funeral director.
Three of the Caggiano children have a connection to Boston College, the alma mater of Ernest C. Caggiano. Lisa and E. Christopher attended BC while Mark graduated from Harvard University and Boston College Law School. He has since earned his degree at Harvard Divinity School and is minister for a parish in Chestnut Hill.
Peter A. Caggiano Sr., who runs the day-to-operations at the facility [Ernest Caggiano is semi-retired], is a graduate of Savio Prep and the New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences. Like his father, Caggiano has been a recipient of the Rotary Club’s prestigious Paul Harris Fellow Award for community service. He is well known in town as the president of the Winthrop Youth Football and Cheerleading organization and a former coach in the Winthrop Youth Hockey Assoiation.
Ernest Caggiano say the funeral industry is forever changing. Today many families request that a video of the deceased’s life be shown at the memorial observance. That service is free of charge at Caggiano-O’Maley.
“We have the families bring to us a bunch of photos from the person’s life and we make a DVD and show it on two television screens in the funeral home during the visitation,” said Caggiano. “Funerals are much more personalized now. Say a person was a golfer, we can personalize the whole service to commemorate the life of the individual.”
Caggiano-O’Maley conducts traditional funerals and memorial services of all denominations. The funeral of well-known Winthrop business owner Belle Liberman, who was of the Jewish faith and a close friend of Caggiano, was held inside the home.
“Our facility and chapel are adaptable to serve whether it be an intimate, small service or a large service,” said Caggiano.
But while the funeral industry changes, one thing remains a certainty: if you enter the Caggiano-O’Maley funeral home, a member of this prideful family will be there to assist and comfort you in a moment of need.
“We get tremendous satisfaction out of helping people at a very difficult time and lessen the grief,” said Caggiano. “There’s no way you can take away the loss, but by doing things in a professional and caring manner, we can lighten the load a little.”