Celebrating life

The Delaware Valley Cremation Center offers a new way to honor the life of loved ones.

Honoring their memory: The Delaware Valley Cremation Center, 7350 State Road, works with hundreds of local families annually. Last November, owner Bill Sucharski opened The State Room, an event center that allows family and friends to honor, remember and celebrate the life of their loved one. Photos: Bill Sucharski

Bill Sucharski has been in the cremation business for 26 years, starting at the Frankford Arsenal Business Center, then moving in 2001 to his current facility at 7350 State Road.

The Delaware Valley Cremation Center, located just north of Cottman Avenue, performs about 2,500 cremations a year and works with some 350 families.

“It’s growing every year,” Sucharski said.

Since opening in 1991, Sucharski has seen a major shift in attitudes regarding funeral service, as cremation has surpassed casketed burial as the predominant choice of Americans.

After several years of planning, Sucharski last November opened The State Room, a 5,500-square-foot event center connected to the main facility.

The new room allows family and friends to honor, remember and celebrate the life of their loved one.

“This is a new, unique service you can’t get anywhere else,” Sucharski said. “People love it. It’s not stuffy. They can remember the good times. It’s all been well received.”

Any time prior to the cremation, the immediate family and close family and friends have the opportunity to view the deceased in the chapel. Then, there will be a memorial tribute service.

In The State Room, the memorial tribute gathering can last for up to four hours and include a parking attendant, two liaisons, bartender and a piano player. There’s catered food, a private video tribute booth, DVD display of up to 100 images on six big-screen televisions, personally selected music, Facebook group creation, Chalkboard Wall and e-tribute digital guest signature collection system.

The price is provided up front, and Sucharski said the fee can be a lot less than a cemetery plot and casket.

“We do everything to make it special,” Sucharski said.

The State Room is also available for wedding services and receptions and graduation and birthday parties.

But the bulk of the business is cremations and the life celebrations in The State Room. Most customers come from Philadelphia and Lower Bucks County.

In talking to folks who’ve used The State Room, the verdict is unanimous. They’ve loved the experience.

Casey Richardson’s mom, Pattie, died in June. Casey’s uncle had been cremated at the State Road facility, and her mom wanted to be cremated, too. More than 100 people celebrated Pattie Richardson’s life in The State Room.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. It really, truly is a beautiful place,” her daughter said.

Shameka Bowser’s mom, Sylvia Thompson, died in June. Family members used Delaware Valley Cremation Center in the past, and Bowser scheduled her mom’s celebration in The State Room. About 75 people attended. Bowser had a positive experience, noting that a special touch was the pre-printed address labels provided for thank-you notes.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a beautiful space, and they were very accommodating. No hidden fees,” Bowser said of the room and staff. “I wanted to have a celebration of the life of my mother, not a funeral. We talked about all the good times.”

Raul Malveiro’s dad, Flavio, died last November. A coworker who attended a celebration for a friend recommended The State Room. About 50 people attended Flavio Malveiro’s service, which his son described as “wonderful.” The deceased’s pastor conducted an hour-long service, and his son said staff were attentive to every detail. It was the perfect sendoff for a man who moved his family away from the strife of Portugal in 1968 and worked many years as a tailor in the U.S.

“I fell in love with the place. It was clean and professional looking. When you walk in, it’s amazing the way everything is laid out,” Raul Malveiro said. “The service was very nice. Everything was professional.”

When Joy Sheehan learned in March that her 22-year-old nephew and godson, Michael Popielarski, had died at home while his parents were away, she wanted his body in a safe place.

“They were the first ones I called,” she said of Delaware Valley Cremation Center.

Sheehan and her family used the center for the cremations of her dad and aunt. The parking attendants did a good job handling the 100-plus people who attended her nephew’s celebration. She described it as “one great party for him.” Grateful Dead music played, the roses and urn were in tie-dye, and there was a fish flower arrangement, all in honor of his love for fishing and the Dead.

“When something happens, call Del Val,” Sheehan said. “They held our hands through the whole thing.”

Nancy Popielarski, Michael’s mom, thanked center staffer Jay McGee for his hospitality. The celebration included some of her son’s favorites, such as wings from Curran’s Irish Inn and pizza from Pizza City.

“We threw him a party like he’d throw for himself, instead of a luncheon,” she said. “Everyone had a good time, as funerals go, and the staff went all out for us. The staff couldn’t have been nicer.”

For more information, call 215–543–9113 or go to www.delvalcremation.com/the-state-room ••