By Sheila McAfee
The Martenson Family of Funeral Homes, Inc. has been helping local families through life’s difficult transitions for more than 77 years.
What started as a storefront business has grown to include seven chapels in six communities between Detroit and Monroe. In Trenton, there are two chapels. One on West Road and another on West Jefferson Avenue.
Company president, Trenton resident John J. Martenson Jr., represents the third generation overseeing day-to-day operations.
Martenson said that as a fifth-grader he wrote a school paper about his career goals, and that outlook included a major role in the family business.
After graduating from Albion College with a degree in economics and science, he followed in the footsteps of his parents, Leona and John Sr., and graduated from Wayne State University, Department of Mortuary Science. Prior to her death in 2008, Leona Martenson was one of the few Michigan women who were licensed funeral directors.
Martenson’s grandfather, John D. Martenson established the business on Vernor Highway in Detroit. Five years later, he moved the business to a home he built on Lawndale, also in Detroit.
Martenson’s father, John J. Martenson Sr., joined the business in 1962, and in 1965 oversaw the establishment of the Trenton chapel on West Road. A third chapel, in Allen Park, was established in 1977.
The next phase of expansion was in 1994 when The Martenson Family of Funeral Homes became involved with Allore Funeral Home in Rockwood and Monroe, Martenson said.
In 2001, Martenson’s acquired the Liedel Funeral Home in Maybee, and in 2004, the Ridge Funeral Home after the sudden death of its owner, Ralph Ridge.
A staff of 53 handles all aspects of funeral preparations, including burial, cremation, church and cemetery services, flowers, funeral luncheons, monuments and grave markers, as well as grief counseling sessions to help families adjust to life after the death of a loved one.
“I would like credit our longevity on the level of service we provide because of the professionalism and care of our staff,” Martenson said. “Our staff is always mindful of the fact that although we hold funerals every day, the families we serve do not.”
The biggest influence of change in the funeral industry has been technology, Martenson said.
“Families still want a traditional service with visitation and burial, but how families handle the services has diversified,” he said. “Services now include tributes online, in video, on Facebook and Twitter. Many more choose cremation than in the past.”
Several family members are actively involved with business operations. Martenson’s wife, Jennifer, is the videographer who handles eternal tributes for families. His brother, David, rejoined the business last May as director of advanced planning.
It appears family involvement will carry into the fourth generation. Martenson’s oldest son, Michael, just graduated from Adrian College, and is planning to enter the Department of Mortuary Science at Wayne State.
For further information about The Martenson Family of Funeral Homes, call (734) 671-5400, or check the website www.martenson.com.