Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 9, 2013

HIGGS: Spotlight shines on Joey's, WIlliamson Funeral Home

Niagara Gazette — Let’s go back to our Niagara Beautification Spotlight awards during this summer and see whose hard work has paid off. Since I am working backward we will visit the Williamson Funeral Home next which received the July Spotlight Award.

Sitting in one of Niagara’s historic and stately, early buildings at 635 Main St. near the Main Post Office, Williamson’s has been the source of comfort for those who have lost a loved one for many years. Back in 1922 this was occupied by Marl C. Cobler, funeral director and professional embalmer. It was formerly The Leuppie Company. By 1940 Oscar Bell and Oscar Bell, Jr. owned and operated the Bell Funeral Home at this location and Myrtle Cobler moved across the park at the corner of Main and Pine to 640 Park Place and opened Cobler’s Funeral Home. Ownership at Bell’s included Luella Bell who was secretary — treasurer during the 1950s and later Thelma Bell took that position in 1974.

Theodore and Gertrude Williamson purchased 635 Main St. in 1976 and the Williamson Funeral Home has been there ever since serving primarily the black community. Ted as he was known was very active in the community, serving on many local boards including the NFTA. Cobler’s remained across the way until the 1980s when Richard Coleman took over and opened the R.L. Coleman Funeral Home. That building at 640 Park Place is now the home of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins and Niagara University’s ReNU Niagara.

The Ted Williamson family included five children — Theodore, Jr., Michael, Tanya, Jean and Michelle. I found a Niagara Gazette article by Crystal Boling dated March 28, 1982, all about Theodore, Jr. and Michael — two of the city’s very eligible and so far confirmed bachelors. They lived in the spacious upstairs apartment at 635 Main and she described it as furnished in the “minimal style” as it was pretty sparse. “Just a couch in the living room”, according to Michael. Both boys are married with families now. He worked alongside his dad for many years and is now the licensed funeral director taking over the business following Ted’s death on June 24, 2010. His dad was the person really responsible for the landscaped front yard and the generally beautiful appearance of the building over the years according to Michael who was thrilled about the Spotlight and said his dad would be very proud.

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