By Janee Law
As he was honored at a ceremony last week, Peter Connell, co-owner of M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station, was described as a pillar within his community, one who has helped people through the toughest times of their lives with genuine care and concern.
This description was offered by Rev. Jerry Artis, pastor at Love of Christ Fellowship Church in Huntington, one of those who organized Friday’s ceremony that was hosted at Carillon Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Huntington. It drew Huntington officials, members of the Huntington Ecumenical Ministerial Alliance, members of the NAACP and religious figures in the community and staff of the nursing home.
Together, they celebrated Connell’s more than 50-year devotion to the Huntington community.
Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards said that Connell, 82, was able to make the worst of times a little bit easier for those who’ve lost a loved one.
“When you walk in there, Peter knew not only who you were, but went down the chain of people throughout your family,” Edwards said.
She added that the Connell family made people “feel at home.”
The 934 New York Ave. funeral home was opened in 1923 by Connell’s father, Michael. After his father passed away in 1955, Connell and brother John took over the business.
Rev. Jerry Artis said that members of several churches and the community had made requests for a way to honor Connell.
“They wanted to say something to the M.A. Connell family, and especially to Peter, so we felt that it was very important to do it,” Artis, who has known Connell since 1995, said. “He’s been a great man to the community.”
He added that, for those families who struggled financially, Connell “never closed his door on anyone,” finding a way to help those who struggled financially with services.
Connell’s wife, Frances, of Huntington, said the ceremony brought the community together.
It was “just really beautiful,” she said.
Huntington Councilman Eugene Cook attended the event and presented Connell with a proclamation. Connell was also given plaque from the Huntington Ecumenical Ministerial Alliance and honored by the NAACP, Huntington branch.
Connell, who currently lives at the Carillon Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and although he couldn’t comment, Frances said “I know he is touched and it’s such an honor and a privilege to serve the families of this wonderful town all these years.”