Andrew Hodges and wife Andrea Macko-Hodges have owned the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home since December 2003. In 2000, Andrew obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a number of courses in Thanatology (study of death and bereavement) at the University of Western Ontario in London. In 2002, he graduated from Toronto’s Humber College with a diploma in the funeral services education program. Completing his training as a funeral director in Toronto, Andrew continued to work in the city until November 14, 2003 when he and Andrea decided to leave Toronto for a town where Andrew could perform funerals in a more personal way, and the couple could become part of a community and eventually raise a family.
Andrew and Andrea took ownership of the Robt. G. Sass Funeral Home on December 1, 2003. At the age of 25, Andrew was one of the youngest funeral directors in Canada to own and operate a funeral home. To reflect the change in ownership and responsibility, the name of the funeral home changed to the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home Ltd. Andrea, who graduated from Carleton University in 2001 with an Honours degree in Journalism, is now Events Coordinator for the Town of St. Marys. The elementary school sweethearts were married on September 7, 2002.
Andrew and Andrea have one daughter, Charlotte Grace Hodges. The family is also the proud owner of Agnes the miniature dachshund, who serves as "grief counsellor" at the funeral home.
The Hodges are the latest in a line of compassionate people who have served St. Marys and area for almost 120 years. The Hodges Funeral Home traces its roots to 1897, when a funeral and furniture business was established on Queen Street by T. T. Garner. At that time it was common for the furniture maker to moonlight as the undertaker, because they had the means to build caskets. There was also no need for the undertaker to have facilities for visitations and funerals because they would take place in homes.
In 1903, Garner hired R.F. Harrison as an associate and Garner retired in 1904, leaving the business to Harrison. Harrison soon hired J.A. Lamond, and in 1907 the partners sold the business to G.W. Loucks. Loucks, who in turn hired W.M. Whittle, moved the operation to Water Street South, in the Opera House building.
This partnership only lasted six months and a Mr. Knetchel bought both men out. N.L. Brandon was hired, and the partners worked together for about one year, until Knetchel left the business. N.L. Brandon then ran the funeral home from 1908 until 1935.
In 1935, Brandon sold the business to the Corothers brothers. More space was soon required as visitations and funerals were increasingly taking place at the funeral home. The brothers felt that buying a house would ease this transition for families by having a setting where visitations could still take place in a home-like environment. The Corothers purchased lot five on the west side of Wellington Street South in 1938, what is known today as 52 Wellington St. S.
In 1939, Samuel Marriott opened a funeral business on Queen Street and the Corothers sold their business to him. Marriott then moved his funeral and furniture business to the Wellington Street facility. In 1950, he purchased land across the street (lots four, five and six, today known as 47 Wellington St. S.), renovated the house to suit funeral services, and moved the business there.
The stately yellow brick home at 47 Wellington St. S. was built in 1897 by John Elliott, an area mason who assisted in the construction of St. Marys' unique town hall. John passed away in 1902, leaving the house to hiw wife Margaret. The home served as a private residence and as a convalescent home until Marriott's purchase in 1950.
In 1953, Marriott sold the funeral business to Bob Lindsay and the furniture business was eliminated from 47 Wellington. Changing the name to the Lindsay Funeral Home, Lindsay expanded the building to create more space. Lindsay and his wife Ione raised two sons, Ron and Murray, in the upstairs apartment during their tenure.
Robert (Bob) Sass, the next owner, a St. Marys native, began his career as a funeral director in Aurora, north of Toronto. He returned to St. Marys to take over the Lindsay Funeral Home on June 1, 1983, and changed the name to the Robt. G. Sass Funeral Home. Sass was responsible for smajor changes to the property, notably, creating the parking lot on the south side of the building and adding the wheelchair ramp to the north porch to make the funeral home accessible.
Bob and his wife Pat raised their children Paula and Jeff in the funeral home and served the community in various organizations. Even though he is formally retired from funeral service, it's not uncommon to see Bob making a "cameo appearance" at the funeral home.
On December 28, 2012, the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home Ltd. purchased L.A. Ball Ltd. All funeral service operations in St. Marys are located at the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home at 47 Wellington St. South, St. Marys.
Although the funeral home has seen a lot of changes since 1897, by way of locations and owners, the same commitment continues: a locally owned establishment that provides each family it serves with personalized service in a gracious and comfortable atmosphere.