Roberts Funeral Home makes family the focus

Set conveniently on the grounds of the 85-acre East Lawn Memorial Park in Reno, the Roberts Funeral Home celebrated its grand opening Thursday, with owners already reporting an early interest in the funeral home-cemetery combination.

“The whole concept is designed to be much easier,” said Alex Roberts, funeral director and president of Wooster-based Roberts Funeral Homes. “Families can make all of their arrangements right here.”

Roberts, along with brothers and fellow directors Kirk and Jeff Roberts, purchased the accompanying cemetery in 2001 with the plans to build on site.

“When you can build a funeral home as a funeral home, you can lay everything out how you want it,” Kirk said.

The Roberts family started its business in Wooster in 1961 as the first funeral home in Ohio to be built on the grounds of a cemetery, and now in Reno, clients will be able to stay on-site for the entire process at East Lawn and the Valley Cemetery, set in the older end of the park.

“It eliminates the need for a funeral procession,” Kirk said. “They’re getting dangerous, people aren’t respectful-but now, if they want, they just leave right after the funeral or calling hours or just head right to the grave site.”

With a large parking lot and a location set away from the bustle of Marietta, Kirk said the location provides even more advantages to families than just being by the cemetery.

“A lot of the times funeral homes are right in the middle of town, and there’s not a lot of parking,” he said.

The home is complete with a chapel and multi-purpose room with the capability to hold overflow or two separate viewings, kitchen area, two arrangement rooms, prep room and on-site crematory, with the ability to make floral and casket arrangements on site.

“Normally you’d have to go from the funeral home to the cemetery then maybe to a florist, but now, it can all be done right here,” Alex said.

The family also chose to design the funeral home to have a historic look but with some modern and contemporary conveniences.

“We built a patio, so instead of having a big group of smokers standing out front like they usually would, they can be out there, or the family can go there to get away for awhile,” Kirk said.

The home officially opened Aug. 15, and the Roberts said they’ve already had a lot of generated interest from people requesting to make pre-arrangements.

Some other unique features of the funeral home include adjustable room sizes to cater to a larger or more intimate funeral, and valet parking for all calling hours and funerals.

“That’s not something people are used to having,” Kirk said.

The funeral home is staffed by about 12 people, including funeral director Tracy Boroom.

“We appreciate their investment in our community and the county,” said Washington County Commissioner Tim Irvine. “Obviously they’ll be a lot of help to families in a time of need in the county.”

Though the funeral home-cemetery combination in Reno is the fourth for the Roberts family, the company owns 17 “memorial garden” sites, designed to be more of a park-like area than simply a graveyard, throughout Ohio.