Arthur W. Dutcher was a well-known civic and business leader in Haverstraw, New York, from the late 1880ís until his passing in 1939.† A lifelong Haverstraw resident, Mr. Dutcher was born on February 29, 1856 (leap year), and had attended both public and private Haverstraw schools.† Employment in the family livery and stage line business with his father, Jacob, prepared him for his own commercial ventures.† (The Dutcher family had provided Haverstraw with the first Pony Express service in the area.)† Arthur purchased a furniture business from Leonard Cooper, for whom he had worked.† This purchase led Arthur into another service that he would best be known foróFuneral Director.


The origins of many funeral homes were generated from furniture stores.† Caskets were a part of most furniture storesí inventories.† Such is the start of the A.W. Dutcherís Sons Funeral Home in Haverstraw.† Arthur first sold the caskets he had produced, and later decided to abandon furniture sales from his Broadway store.† He then concentrated on all aspects of funeral services.† With his fatherís livery service, Arthur added a horse-drawn hearse and sleigh for funeral processions.


After the turn of the century, family trends turned away from home viewing and preparation.† The horse-drawn hearse era was over.† The first motorized hearse, with glass side panels, was introduced to the county by A.W. Dutcher.† Now, the concept of the funeral parlor had come into being.† Arthur moved his firm to the former Dutcher livery site.† This was at 18 Lincoln Street, where it still exists today.† While overseeing the funeral operations, A.W. Dutcher still found time to participate in civic duties.† Active in local politics, Arthur was elected coroner (predecessor of the current Medical Examiner), while also serving as Justice of the Peace.


From the funeral home on Lincoln Street, other generations of the Dutcher family served Rockland County.† Arthurís two sons became involved with the firm.† George B. Dutcher became its licensed director, with his brother, Leonard C., assisting him.† Like his father, George was active in fraternal and civic organizations, and was elected coroner.† Succeeding George was Leonardís son, Leonard C. Dutcher, Jr., who is presently the firmís licensed manager, with his son, Leonard R. Dutcher, as his assistant.


Today, large corporations have become a part of the funeral service industry.† As the funeral service has changed, one thing has remained constant with the firm founded by A.W. Dutcher back in the 1800ís.† It is owned and operated by its founding family descendants.



April, 2002†††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Leonard R. Dutcher