BUCKHANNON – A local family business has welcomed its third generation to help with the operations.
Sarah St. Clair recently finished her state and national board exams, making her an officially licensed funeral director at Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home.
“After you complete two years of mortuary school, then they put you through a series of board exams to make sure everything you learned in school has been retained, as well as everything that you learned in the on-site training at the funeral home,” St. Clair said. “There are a lot of legal ramifications for the work that we do, and we have to make sure that we are following all the proper procedures and protocols.”
She said she was living in Baltimore, Maryland three years ago, when she decided to move back home.
“I had spent any free weekends I could coming back home to Buckhannon,” St. Clair said. “Family has been one of the most important things to me my entire life, and as I realized I was coming home more often and more often, I wondered, ‘why wasn’t I there?’”
She said around the same time, her uncle Steve decided to retire.
“Codi and my dad were saying they were going to have to find somebody to replace him, so everything kind of aligned all at once,” St. Clair said. “I wanted to move home, they needed someone here at the funeral home, so my dad called me one day and said, ‘What do you think about coming home?’ He didn’t know that I was thinking about coming home.”
She said she never considered joining the family business before.
“I didn’t think I had the emotional ability to do this work. I grew up here so everyone who walks through our door is someone and it’s tough because you want to grieve with a family,” St. Clair said. “You’ve got to be strong for them, so I came home and sat down with Codi and my dad, and we had a full conversation about what it would be like for me to work here and what their expectations were and at the end of the day, it was perfect fit.”
The Licensee in Charge of Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home Codi Cabrera said having her home for her three-year apprenticeship has been ideal because she was already part of the family.
“It’s made it a lot easier for me, not having to worry about hiring somebody else down the road, trying to see if it’s the right fit, or how someone would mesh with everybody else here,” Cabrera said. “Since she’s family, she fit right in like she’s been here forever. A lot of the responsibility I had is being split between the two of us now, and that’s a lot of stress that has been relieved.”
President of Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home Jeff St. Clair said his apprenticeship was with his father and he was happy to pass what he taught him onto Sarah.
“I’m very happy to have another generation step up to take charge,” Jeff St. Clair said. “The families I have served for the last 40 plus years seem very comfortable working with Sarah.”
Jeff St. Clair said the operations of the funeral home probably won’t change anytime soon.
“I don’t expect any major changes in the coming years,” Jeff St. Clair said. “I’m very happy and confident that Sarah and her brother-in-law, Codi, will take very good care of the families we serve.”