DURYEA—Piontek Funeral Home’s business is family.
Frank and Mary Piontek opened the funeral home at its current 204 Main St. location in 1952. Frank passed away in 1982, but Frank’s nephew Bernard continued the business and today acts as funeral director. Bernard’s daughter Michelle Piontek, 41, fell in love with the industry, earned her funeral service education degree in 1997 and became supervisor at Piontek Funeral Home in 2012.
“It’s my way of being able to give back to the community,” Michelle said. “I honestly love what I do as a professional. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t a funeral director. This is all I wanted to do since I was in high school.”
What Michelle does is a 24-hour profession. She said most work is done during the day because that’s when churches, flower shops, cemeteries and other entities involved in the funeral process operate. However, normal business hours don’t dictate death.
“If the person passes away in the middle of the night, we’re out in the middle of the night,” she said.
After retrieval of the body, Michelle meets with families when they’re ready to make arrangements. She said emotional awareness is as important as any other trait in the funeral home business.
“Most families are at peace because they see their family member suffering and they are at peace now, so that does make it a little easier,” Michelle said. “But if it’s a young child or a young adult or a tragic death, that’s never easy to make arrangements for so, at that time, we have to take everything a lot slower. But, for most families that come in, unfortunately, it’s a part of life and arrangements have to be made.”
Michelle said she’s happy to provide services that help make that part of life easier for families to experience, and she’s proud to provide those services in Greater Pittston.
“It’s a close-knit community,” she said. “A lot of the families we serve we have served since the funeral home opened, so I like the fact that people put their trust in us and allow us to serve them for years and years.”
Michelle also serves her professional community as president of the Luzerne County Funeral Directors Association, and her community at-large as one of Luzerne County’s deputy coroners — a position previously held by both Frank and Bernard.
Michelle said the business is unpredictable — the funeral home could be fully booked or go without events for days, at which point paperwork and maintenance are prioritized. Either way, she’s proud to do business in Duryea.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” she said.
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