In an encore of The Business Beat, Steve Jones-D’Agostino of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb, interviews Peter Stefan, owner and president of Graham, Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors. They talk about the death and life of locally owned funeral homes. This episode aired originally on November 1, 2015.
As Worcester Magazine wrote in 2013 in its Person of the Year profile, “Over the course of several days in early May 2013, [Peter] Stefan and the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlor he runs out of an historic white building on Main Street graced the cover of just about every major newspaper in the US, popped up on TV screens as part of daily and evening newscasts and ignited a controversy that, all these months later, still lingers. For Stefan, it started late on a Thursday night in May, the second of May to be exact. That is when he opened the doors of his funeral home to the body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It was the sort of under-the-cover-of-darkness intrigue you see in movies.”
As WoMag’s report continued, “Stefan ended up in the middle of it all, dealing with a political hot potato that saw nearly every local, state and federal lawmaker do their best not to handle. Believing with all his heart that everyone deserves a burial, the man whose mother worked in hotels and whose father toiled away at the old American Optical factory in Southbridge before dying when Stefan was only 3, decided to offer up his services to prepare Tsarnaev for burial when just about every other city and funeral director was saying no.”
As the 2013 Worcester Magazine profile noted, “Stefan, now far from the limelight and free of the pursuit of the TV personalities who were nipping at his heels for interviews back then, is unfazed. He is as secure and content with his decision as the day he made it. And he believes public sentiment, by and large, has swung toward him. Even if it did not, Stefan believes he – and by extension, his country – did the right thing. After all, as he said many times during the ordeal, ‘We bury our dead.’”
As a son to hardworking Greek and Albanian immigrant parents, Peter Stefan is a first-generation funeral director with more than 40 years of experience in the funeral industry. He is a member of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association. He is also a very active member of the Worcester community, and has been involved with numerous local organizations, such as, the P.I.P. Shelter, AIDS Project Worcester, the Nigerian American Organization, the Veteran's Shelter, and many more.