On June 14, the Schmidt Funeral Home was recognized for its 100 years of continuous service to the communities of Nazareth and Wind Gap. The award was presented by William B. Schleifer, president of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, at the association's 130th annual convention in Harrisburg.
Accepting the award were funeral directors Jane Follweiler and Patricia Werner, co-owners and operators of both the Nazareth home, located on Belvidere Street, and the Wind Gap branch.
“Our motto is ‘professional service with a personal touch,’” said Werner. “We pride ourselves on attending to each client’s individual needs.”
Follweiler and Werner have owned and operated the Schmidt Funeral Home since 2000. Follweiler began her career as a funeral director as an apprentice to the previous owner, Dale Schmidt, from 1988 until his passing in 1998.
Werner became involved in the undertaking business after her grandmother’s funeral was held at the Schmidt home in Nazareth in 1997. She was so impressed with the manner in which the service was run, and the sense of comfort that the staff gave her, that she immediately took an interest in funeral directing.
“I approached Jane four weeks after my grandmother’s funeral about going into business together,” said Werner. “I didn’t even know her yet. That’s how strongly I felt about this business.”
Two years later, Werner did go into business with Follweiler, later becoming a licensed funeral director herself in 2007.
Together, the two funeral directors are involved in all aspects of funeral care, from preparing the body to running the service, and even sometimes providing care after a funeral.
“We have to concentrate on being there for the family, and directing the funeral and making preparations,” said Follweiler. “It’s a nice mix of humanities and sciences.”
The Schmidt Funeral Home of Wind Gap was started in 1911 by M.C. Schmidt. It was the first full-service funeral home in the Slate Belt. The Nazareth home was opened in 1942, renovated from a former house. The funeral home stayed in the Schmidt family until 2000, when Follweiler and Werner bought the business.
The funeral home arranges funeral services, cremations and pre-needs (which refers to arranging a funeral before a death). As Werner pointed out, the Schmidt home of Nazareth is one of the few in the area that still has a showroom, which showcases different styles of urns, caskets, vaults and keepsakes.
“From the time we’re engaged, to the end of the funeral, we’re fully consumed with details,” said Werner. “We are a service to the community.”