A longtime Altoona funeral home is under new ownership, as the Stevens Family has purchased the E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home, 2309 Broad Ave.
The sale of the home, which has been at the Broad Avenue location since 1929 when it was known as the Lafferty and Tobias Funeral Home, was completed Jan. 19, said Joseph Stevens III, president of Stevens Mortuary Inc.
The name of the home will not change.
Supervisor Kevin Smith and his wife, Cheryl, who served as the home's family services consultant, plan to move to Seattle to be closer to their son, daughter-in-law and 9-month-old granddaughter.
"The kids invited us to come out and be part of their lives," Kevin Smith said. "We discussed it and prayed about it, and ultimately we decided to be part of the lives of our kids and our granddaughter."
"Kevin asked if we would be interested, and we were honored that they asked," Stevens said. "We will not be making any changes at all."
The Smiths are helping with the transition.
"We feel confident with the Stevens family. They are professionals and a fifth-generation business. There will be a good transition. We felt comfortable with them," Kevin Smith said. "It was a tough decision. We had developed a lot of friends over the years. Cheryl and I are very appreciative of the support of the families we worked with."
The business has been known as the E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home since 1973 when Kevin's father, E. Merrill Smith, who joined the business in 1956, took over following the death of John Lafferty II.
Kevin Smith joined the staff as an intern in 1979 and became a funeral director in 1980. He became owner in 1997.