We stand behind our reputation and will continue to serve our community with the values instilled by our funeral directors.
Ducro: Funeral Business Built On Quality
In 1847, John Peter Ducro, a master cabinet maker, emigrated from Prussia to New England and to Cherry Valley, then Jefferson, and eventually to Ashtabula, (uptown and to the Harbor on Bridge Street), all part of the Connecticut Land Grant in the heart of the Western Reserve. The family served as both funeral directors in homes and churches, and as furniture makers.
By 1907, the family had provided the community with its first free-standing funeral home when the education building of the First Presbyterian Church was moved to Elm Avenue at the time of new church construction.
John Ducro’s classic Victorian house on West Prospect was razed in the 1970’s. His son, J.P., continued in funeral service followed by third generation John T. Ducro, fourth generation J. Peter Ducro, and fifth generation J.P. Ducro IV. (G.E. Ducro’s descendants continued in the furniture business to the fourth generation, eventually following different pursuits.)
Second-generation J.P. Ducro introduced many firsts to the area such as a motorized combination ambulance-hearse. J.P. Ducro was also recognized for his civic leadership, especially in helping to establish the Commercial Bank, Peoples Savings & Loan, the area AAA, Ashtabula Country Club golf course, and as one of the “Committee of 100” that founded the Ashtabula Chamber of Commerce.
In 1954, John T. Ducro constructed a new state-of-the-art funeral home by joining the original chapel and the horse barn on the Elm Avenue property with a new center section, all re-designed in the present colonial Williamsburg style. He played leadership roles in numerous civic activities. He and his wife, Sigrid (Johnson), a registered nurse and graduate of Ashtabula General Hospital School of Nursing, had two children, Carolynn (Mrs. Les Johnson), also a nurse, and J. Peter who joined in the family firm in 1956.
Peter and his wife, (Mary) Sue Curtis of Canton, met at Denison University, and were married in 1961 and moved into the house adjacent to the funeral home built by J.P. Ducro for his bride in 1898. Shortly after their marriage, they coordinated the county-wide Sabin Oral Polio Vaccine program which administered over 92,000 doses, followed by a mass measles immunization program, among many other civic activities.
Peter pioneered bereavement education in the area and assisted in founding Hospice of Ashtabula County and Compassionate Friends. He developed an extensive resource library for professional and public use and worked to personalize funerals and memorial services, adding “Aftercare” programs to help families cope with loss, even at one time, by request, a Pet Loss support group. For many years the firm has provided a community-wide “Candle of Love” Service of Remembrance & Holiday Help program and has sponsored several nationally acclaimed speakers. Peter was named Citizen of the Year in 1995 for a lifetime of service to the community in a wide range of educational, health, civic, and professional activities.
Both a licensed Psychologist and Funeral Director, Sue has been associated with the courts, schools, and Kent State University. Active in numerous community organizations, she writes and speaks on bereavement and other subjects. She emphasizes that “the psychological value of the funeral and its related rituals and traditions, however they are modified or personalized, has been demonstrated throughout history.”
Both Peter and Sue have provided many educational programs locally and nationally, work with school Crisis Intervention Teams, and were members of the steering committee for the 2001 World Gathering on Bereavement. They are both certified grief specialists through the American Grief Academy.
In 1968, the Askew-Brink Funeral Home at West 11th and Michigan Avenue was acquired to continue serving the Harbor area from that location. It became unnecessary to operate as a funeral home several years after the acquisition of Zaback Funeral Home in 2002.
In 1986, they installed the first crematory in Ashtabula County at the Elm Ave. location to meet the growing requests, either separately or combined with a funeral or memorial service, and later adding a separate pet crematory.
The firm then added additional limousines to create Ducro Limousine Service for public and corporate use.
In 1994, J.P. Ducro IV returned to Ashtabula after completing his education at Miami University and Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. He, also, has worked for area advancement as: Chairman of the Ashtabula Chamber of Commerce, Elks Exalted Ruler, and for school consolidation, the Rails to Trails Greenway, inter-community cooperation, coaching track and cross-country, city council member, and county commissioner to further serve the public. He was Ashtabula County’s first nationally Certified Pre-Planning Consultant for funeral arrangements in the interest of consumer assurance and protection.
National recognition came to Ducro Services in 1996 when the National Funeral Directors Association honored them with the Pursuit of Excellence ‘Eagle,’ the highest award in funeral service, presented at the time to only five funeral homes each year of the approximately 20,000 members. Judged on exceptional quality in such categories as Advanced Professional Development, Compassionate Service, Public Education, and Community Support, it was one of only two in Ohio and still the only one in Ashtabula County. After repeated awards, Ducro Services was installed in the National Hall of Excellence.
Sue and J.P. are Certified Life Members of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice which requires continuing advanced training beyond licensing requirements as well as community service.
In 2000, Ducro’s returned to its roots in Jefferson to serve the county area from a new funeral home at 17 N. Market with state-of-the-art facilities, including a new, psychologically tested, more comfortable selection room first introduced at their Elm Avenue location. Although the building was sold to the Growth Partnership of Ashtabula County in November of 2004, Ducro Services continues to assist families throughout the county.
Ducro’s acquired the Zaback Funeral Home at 500 W. Prospect in Ashtabula and Greenlawn Memory Gardens in North Kingsville in 2002, and the Childs-Williams Funeral Homes in Ashtabula and in Pierpont from long-time family friend Bernard "Bud" Williams in 2012 who got his start in funeral service with Peter Ducro.
On May 12, 2011, J. Peter Ducro passed away. Not only was this a great loss for his family and the Ducro Funeral Family, it was a loss for the community and the funeral profession. Peter was an innovator in his profession; his skill in reconstructive art enabled many families in the Ashtabula area to have the ability to see their loved ones when everyone else thought it would not be possible. Peter believed that everyone should have the opportunity to see their beloved family member to allow the grief process to begin.
Peter was proud to be from Ashtabula and never hesitated to tell anyone that it was the best place to live and bring up a family. He was generous with his time, talents and assets. Peter believed education and innovation was the future of the funeral profession, always eager to learn and share his knowledge; he was a man ahead of his time in the funeral profession. It was his ability to see the direction that the funeral profession was heading and he steered Ducro Funeral Home on that path. He is admired, missed, and often quoted, bur never far from our thoughts.
Ducro Funeral Home is the oldest continuous family owned and operated firm in Ashtabula County. The firm will celebrate 165 years of funeral service in 2018; it is a family business that has stood the test of time over five generations.
From cabinet making and “undertaking,” Ducro Services evolved into five funeral facilities, a crematory, cemetery, limousine service, and overnight lodging accommodations. Improvements and additions continue in an effort to satisfy and exceed the needs and expectations of the consumer for the highest standards of “goods and services.”
The Ducro family credits the unflagging efforts of their exceptional staff associates and the support of the community with enabling the firm to grow and provide these advances in service.
John P. Ducro
John T. Ducro
J. Peter and Sue Ducro with their son J.P. Ducro IV
J.P. Ducro IV and wife, Peggy, mother, Sue, and daughters, Lizzie, Sara and MaryCate
Zaback Funeral Home
John M. Zaback started the Zaback funeral home in 1901. His son John W. Zaback built a business that focused on providing families the utmost respect while delivering a dignified service. The Zaback father and son treated each family as they would treat their own family in a time of loss, and established a place of honor within the community.
John W.’s son, Jerry, presided over the business with some assistance from his brother Jack, from the early 60’s until the mid-1990s, when it was sold to a Texas based company-- Service Corporation International (SCI).
In 2002, Ducro Services acquired and returned the funeral home to local family ownership along with the North Kingsville combination cemetery/funeral home at Greenlawn Memory Gardens. The current Zaback-Williams-Ducro Funeral Home offers both traditional and contemporary funeral or cremation services with a beautiful, spacious, one-level facility, quiet sitting rooms, conservative respectful décor, a children’s room, a reception room that will accommodate 80 people (which is available for other occasions and events), and ample parking for your family and guests.
Childs-Williams Funeral Home
The Childs-Williams Funeral Home has served families in Pierpont, Ohio since 1881 when it was established as the Waters Funeral Home by Hiram Waters. The funeral home was then passed on to his son, Cary (Blanche) Waters, and was operated as the Hawn Funeral Home for several years before being purchased by Don and Rose Childs in 1953 who also operated a facility in Ashtabula at 1440 West Prospect Road. Bernard B. “Bud” Williams purchased the funeral home in 1994 after managing the funeral home for six years. In 2012, Bud Williams merged his business with Ducro Funeral Services, and relocated the Childs-Williams Funeral Home in Pierpont to the former Pierpont Elementary School and the consolidated the Ashtabula location with the Zaback-Ducro Funeral Home to form the Zaback-Williams-Ducro Funeral Home at 500 West Prospect Road.
The new funeral home in Pierpont, which occupies the south wing of the former Pierpont Elementary School, has been beautifully restored by Wright Farms LTD, a seventh generation Pierpont farming family, who bought the school in 2010 and had high hopes of preserving it. The funeral home located there is the first step in that process and will anchor the future development of the building and effort to preserve its history.
With the expanded size of the facility, parking, and personalized services, the Williams-Ducro Funeral Home offers service to communities from Conneaut to Andover, and from Jefferson into Western Pennsylvania.