In 1878 in County Mayo, Ireland, Patrick O’Malley and his wife, Winifred Togher, started life together. They left Ireland and came to Wilmington, and Patrick was employed as a farmer. During the emigration process, O’Malley was transformed to Mealey. Of their ten children, only the oldest, Michael, remained in Delaware.
At the turn of the century, the nation was being ravaged by a viral illness. Michael Mealey was a furniture upholsterer and among his duties, he furnished casket linings. Many Irish were impoverished and socially scorned, with little ability to provide dignified burial for their departed. From a desire to help ease their grief, Michael opened a funeral home in 1912 at the corner of 3rd and Jackson Streets. His compassion and service to his clients is the foundation upon which Mealey Funeral Homes were established and continue to grow today.
Michael married Susan E. Mulhern and they had five children, Frances, John (Jack), Mary, Daniel and Margaret. In 1935, Michael sold the Jackson Street funeral home and purchased a building on the corner of 7th and Broom Streets. He converted the lower floors to funeral facilities, and used the other two floors for his home.
In acquiring the new facility on Broom Street, Michael incorporated the business, naming the company Michael A. Mealey & Sons, Inc. His sons, Jack and Daniel were then active in the company and community. Jack married an Elkton, Maryland woman, Ann Romanek, and had seven children, Jack Jr., Michael II, Charles, Joseph, Susan, Patricia and Robert. The boys helped around the funeral home from the time they were children. They graduated from Salesianum High School and Mortuary College, and received their funeral director’s licenses. In 1958, Daniel Sr. died, leaving the company to his brother and nephews.
The company prospered under the leadership of Jack and his four oldest sons. By the mid-1960’s, Jack retired, leaving his second son, Michael as the president of the company, and Charles and Joseph as officers.
In the 1970’s, the Wilmington suburbs expanded dramatically. Pike Creek Valley, once mostly farmland, burst with new developments and townhouses. Michael and his brothers saw in this area an excellent opportunity to serve their clients who relocated from the city. Construction for a new funeral home began on the corner of Limestone and Milltown Roads. In December 1972, the first funeral was held.
Michael and Charles had growing families. Michael lived in North Wilmington with wife, Eleanor Kelley and had five children, Michele, Maureen, Michael III, Mark and Kelley. Charles married Mildred Bradley and had four children, Charles Jr. “Chick”, Lori, Kathleen and Jane.
In the family tradition, Chick Jr. graduated from Salesianum High School and the University of Delaware, and worked summers and weekends when needed at the funeral homes. After earning a degree in business, he attended mortuary school in Pittsburgh, and graduated cum laude.
During this same time, the Mealey family dealt with a great deal of tragedy. Michael II was diagnosed with cancer. On August 23, 1982, Michael succumbed to his disease at age 47, leaving his family legacy with his younger brother.When his father died, Michael III was prompted to re-evaluate his future. He enrolled in college to earn the necessary credits for funeral licensing. Then, he entered mortuary school in Catonsville, Maryland. He worked mornings at the funeral home, and commuted to classes in the afternoons. On September 24, 1987, en route home, Michael III was tragically killed in an auto accident. The entire Mealey family was devastated by his loss.
In the ensuing years, the business continued to grow as Chick Jr. assumed a larger role, and hired his sister, Lori, to run the business office. Charles Sr., in his forty years as a funeral director, planned funerals, comforted the grieving, buried his father, mother, brother and nephew, and guided the business through financial difficulties. He had confidence in his son and daughter, and consequently, gave consideration to his own future. In 1996, Charles Sr. sold the business to his son, though continued to work until his retirement in 1998. Until his passing in 2015, he stayed in close contact with his children, offering advice from his years of experience.
Now at the helm, Chick’s primary goal is to serve his clients in every way possible. Out of this commitment came the First Annual Mealey Memorial Service. The memorial service was started in 1998 and just celebrated its 20th anniversary this past year. Each year, every family who lost a loved one throughout the past year is invited to the Pike Creek facility for a ceremony of reflection, song and refreshments. The lives of the departed are commemorated with a personalized Christmas ornament. Many family members hang their ornaments on a Tree of Remembrance—either inside the building or on a huge Christmas tree outside the funeral home. Each year for the past 20 years, the Mealey family has displayed all of the ornaments that have been left with them throughout the previous 2 decades.
As they looked to the future, Chick Jr. and Lori saw the increasing popularity of cremation services. In 2003, the siblings decided to start a new business and purchase their own crematory. Since 2003, Mealey Funeral Homes has owned and operated their own crematory, ensuring that your loved one never leaves their care. The purchase of their own crematory also allowed them to control expenses, thereby offering cremation at a very reasonable rate as compared to competitors.
Chick sees the future of the company in the eyes of his children, Rachel, Amelia and Patrick. In June of 2016, Chick’s oldest daughter, Rachel Mealey, joined the family business to continue over 100 years of tradition. Rachel graduated from Padua Academy and Saint Joseph’s University before enrolling in the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, where her father earned his degree nearly 40 years ago. At a time when many family-owned funeral homes are being purchased by large corporations, the Mealey family is committed to serving families in need personally, professionally, and with the compassion that led Michael A. Mealey to the funeral profession at the turn of the 20th century.
Call us toll free at (800) 608-3533
Mealey Funeral Home - Limestone Road
Phone: (302) 654-3005
2509 Limestone Road, Wilmington, DE 19808
Mealey Funeral Home - Broom Street
Phone: (302) 652-5913
703 North Broom Street, Wilmington, DE 19808
© Mealey Funeral Home
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