By Scott Morgan
It is ironic that the Bordentown Home for Funerals has become such a family-oriented affair, considering that its owner and founder, Rob Pecht, is the first person in his family to ever even get near the funeral business.
With the help of his wife, Stephanie, and his brother, Arthur, Pecht is now going on his eighth year in business on Crosswicks Street in downtown Bordentown.
Fittingly, Pecht’s venture toward a career in the funeral business began with his own family. Pecht grew up around Newark in a family of bakers and longshoremen. He joined the Navy out of high school and used his GI Bill to help him pay for college, during which he worked for an answering service. Many of the clients he answered calls for, Pecht says, turned out to be funeral homes.
One day, around 1990, one of those clients asked him if he would like to help transport the recently deceased to the funeral home and help prep the bodies for services. Pecht took him up on it. Until then, Pecht had been contemplating a career in the federal government.
“I was going to go either into the Secret Service or the DEA,” he said. “I had no intention of staying in New Jersey.”
Then came a call from his mother. His grandmother, after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease, had died.
Pecht thought that the one thing he could do to help was to be part of her funeral. He brought his grandmother to the funeral home, and his life in the funeral services began.
A decade and a half later, in 2004, Pecht bought a funeral home in Bordentown City and re-opened it as the Bordentown Home for Funerals. The wording is important. Pecht wants “home” to be the first thing people know about his business. And family is the first thing he wants you to see when you enter the building. Open the front door, and you are immediately struck by a family portrait of Pecht with his wife and two daughters, Giselle, 4, and Margot, 2, on the facing wall.
Stephanie, who works at Shiseido in East Windsor, handles the funeral home’s advertising. Pecht, 45, also employs his brother, who just received his mortuary license. Arthur had been working in finance “until the bottom fell out,” Pecht says. He started working at the home about three years ago. Pecht employs as many as six part-timers at any given time.
What separates the Bordentown Home for Funerals, Pecht says, is his attention to what drew him into the business in the first place: the importance of sensitivity and care at the toughest time in most people’s lives. He admits that funerals are expensive—$10,000 to $12,000 on average. But what, he asks, does it amount to for the family in the days and weeks after the services end? Was it just a service that made you feel something while it was happening, but then left you with nothing to take away for your lives and spirits?
Pecht bases his approach on his grandmother’s death. After she died, Pecht’s mother gave him a copy of her Bible, which he absent-mindedly thumbed through, not really reading, until a piece of paper with a poem written on it fell out. That poem, “God’s Garden,” moved him so deeply that he reads it at every service to this day.
It’s a minor thing, he says, but one of those important, deeply felt details that stays with the families after services end.
“It’s bad enough that people have to be here,” he says of his business. “But it shouldn’t be painful to be here.”
Bordentown Home for Funerals is located at 40 Crosswicks St. in Bordentown City. For more information, call (609) 298-0128. On the Web: bordentownhomeforfunerals.com.