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4216 Sterrettania Road • Erie, PA • 16506 • 814-838-7656 •

Nancy Dusckas became a licensed funeral director in 1981, and now runs two locations of Dusckas Funeral Home. She partners with her cousin-in-law, Jack Martin, at Dusckas - Martin Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. and will expand with other staff into Harborcreek in 2014.

What is it that makes you different from other funeral homes?

We are equally compassionate to all families at all levels. At the same time, we pay attention to the details and try to take pressure off the families. We are available to families to help with the backlog of paperwork that comes when a loved one passes away. We are there to make phone calls and do the tedious work. When I first got started in the business, I spent hours on the phone with insurance companies and on the road driving families to insurance companies and Social Security so they could process the paperwork. If there’s anything my father taught me, it’s that you support the family all the way through, including after the interment.

What major changes have you seen in the business?

Families continue to find value in the journey. When we see changes in the business it is for a variety of reasons, some of which are not living near family, struggling with finances or just wanting to keep things simple. We listen to the family and then suggest visitation and interment based on their preferences. Personalization and the way services are done can be more creative because of social media.

Talk about your late father, Gus. What drove his passion for working in the funeral business?

He had a natural compassion for people; his heart was in serving, and both he and my mother made sacrifices to make that happen. If my parents had plans for the evening and my father received a call, the plans were cancelled. In small family-run businesses, everyone learned to be flexible. The families we served were always a high priority, including those that had non-funeral distress going on in their lives. My dad would give them all the time and attention they needed until the crisis passed. I learned through him to balance faith, family and friends. This gave me the ability to serve families well.

What do you enjoy most about working as a funeral director?

My passion is being with the families from the initial phone call on. I believe the first contact is important because, at that initial meeting, we can help people start a healthy grieving process. I want to help diminish their fears about the whole process.

But I can't do this work alone. I am very blessed to have a committed and dedicated staff around me. They spend a lot of hours – even weekends and holidays – in the funeral homes we run, and they make sacrifices. They help us do what we do well. I also enjoy the opportunity for community involvement. I do a lot presentations for schools, churches and senior programs. I try never to miss the opportunity to educate people on what they will face in the journey.

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