Compassion is a vocation for Lester Grummons, the proprietor and funeral director of Grummons Funeral Home at 14 Grand St. in Oneonta.
Grummons has owned the funeral home since 1970. At an early age he found he had a calling to help the bereaved. A native of Binghamton, Grummons began his career as an operating room technician in a Binghamton hospital. He had a friend who was going to mortuary school.
“Sometimes, when we had plans to go out, he would tell me he had to get ready for a funeral,” Grummons said. “I would go and help him set up chairs or do flower arrangements. I found I had a knack for it and I was interested.
“He suggested I go to mortuary school, so I did.”
After completing a year of mortuary school and a year of apprenticeship to obtain his license, Grummons went to work as an accountant with IBM.
“I was an accountant for seven years with IBM, but even then I freelanced at funeral homes,” Grummons said. “It was a great way to make a little extra money, and I was raising a family. I had my license, so it made sense.”
In 1970, Walter Rothery Funeral Home came up for sale and Grummons decided to leave his job, move his family to Oneonta, and purchase the business.
“It is a vocation, a calling,” Grummons said.
“People need to go through the grief process. They need to share. It is good to let people talk about the deceased. I like to help them create something to help this process, so people understand a life has been lived.
“Grief shared is grief diminished.”
The funeral home has been in the same location since 1922 when Rothery purchased the Victorian-era house and moved his business from a storefront on Main Street.