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The scent of freshly baked cookies greets you as you walk through the doors of Mahaffey Funeral Home & Cremation Center.
Those tasty treats are some of the small things Joe Wilson has introduced to make his business friendlier.
Wilson is the new owner of Mahaffey Funeral Home, which is Lancaster County’s oldest continually operating funeral establishment. With his purchase in May, the business is now locally owned for the first time since the early 1990s.
Wilson, who had been living in Rock Hill and recently moved to Lancaster, has been in the funeral service since 1990. He previously worked for several funeral homes in Georgia and South Carolina and was looking for a business to own.
He said Mahaffey Funeral Home was the perfect fit.
“I love the small-town atmosphere,” Wilson said. “The folks here in Lancaster have been very accepting of me. You don’t feel like an outsider.”
Wilson bought Mahaffey Funeral Home from Pinnacle Funeral Service, which owns funeral service businesses in several states.
Since coming aboard, Mahaffey Funeral Home has lowered prices and introduced lower-budget options on services. Some casket prices have been reduced by $1,000, Wilson said.
Randy Davis, apprentice funeral director and embalmer for Mahaffey, said Wilson is carrying out the tradition of Mahaffey Funeral Home, which is based on personal service and compassion for families.
“He’s doing a good job,” Davis said. “It’s been a pleasure working with him.”
The funeral home was operated by the Mahaffey family from 1946 to the early 1990s, when brothers James and Ralph sold it to a national funeral home operating company.
James Mahaffey said he’s glad to see Mahaffey Funeral Home return to local ownership.
“Joe is serving the families of our community with the same dignity and respect that our family built the business on,” he said. “The change in ownership can only benefit our community. Their commitment to service excellence and compassion provides families with more options during their time of need.”
Since Wilson became owner, the funeral home’s showroom has been redesigned, the meeting room for families adjusted and an office turned into a lounge.
Wilson also plans to re-landscape the property this winter.
But family service will remain the focus.
“We feel like we provide more personal attention and more compassion – that’s what we pride ourselves on,” Wilson said. “It’s important that folks feel comfortable when they come to a place like this.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at email@example.com or at (803) 283-1152