ASHTABULA — The Ducro family has owned and operated funeral services in Ashtabula for more than 150 years, one of the oldest businesses in the city.
Five generations ago, George Edward (known as G.E.) Ducro, started the family legacy, which continues today.
“It’s been successful because the Ducro family really, really cares about everyone, making the loss easier,” said Sue Ducro, a licensed funeral director, bereavement counselor and wife of the late J. Peter Ducro, who died in 2011.
Their only child, J.P. Ducro IV, is the fifth generation of licensed funeral directors. He credits the business success to the support staff and service.
“You can’t be successful on your own,” he said. “We are committed to our community.”
J.P. Ducro IV’s great-great grandfather, John Ducro, was originally a cabinet maker and in those days the furniture makers made caskets and took the responsibility of caring for the dead until the caskets were made. They then brought the deceased’s body home or to a church for services.
Ducro’s was founded in Cherry Valley, then moved to Jefferson before coming to Ashtabula in the late 1800’s.
One of John Ducro’s sons, George, went to work for his father at 14 at the Ducro Furniture Company. George worked for his father until his father died in 1904.
George and his brother, J.P. Ducro II, then ran the furniture store together and opened a second store on Bridge Street.
In 1941, George stayed with the furniture business and J.P. Ducro II took up the funeral business.
J.P. Ducro II built the house at 4534 Elm Ave., adjacent to the funeral home. He was senior member of John Ducro’s Sons Company Furniture Store and Funeral Directors, founded by his father, John Ducro, in 1853. In 1941, the business officially divided into a furniture company and a funeral home.
J.P. Ducro II was active in the funeral business and helped form the Ohio Funeral Director’s Association. He gave Ashtabula its first motorized hearse and coach to replace the horse-drawn vehicles. The funeral home at 4524 Elm was the original barn.
His son, John Trumen Ducro, returned to Ashtabula to the family funeral business as the third generation of John Ducro and Sons Funeral Home and ambulance service.
For a short time in the 1930’s, he was partners with Noah Potti at the harbor Potti-Ducro Funeral Home on Lake Avenue.
In 1975, at the 100th celebration of the Ohio Funeral Director’s Association, the funeral home was honored for 126 years of service.
John Trumen Ducro married Sigrid, and they had two children — Carolyn and John Peter III. In 1941, they moved from 4534 Elm to the house on the north side of the funeral home, which was moved to the corner of Elm Avenue and West 44th Street in 1954 in preparation for the renovation of the funeral home.
John Peter (J. Peter) Ducro III, was born in 1932. After graduating Ashtabula High School, Dennison University and Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, he returned to Ashtabula to become the fourth generation in the Ducro Funeral Services. He also helped found Hospice of Ashtabula County, Theos and Compassionate Friends, pioneering bereavement counseling.
J.P. Ducro IV, fifth generation, was born May 14, 1971. He graduated in 1988 from Ashtabula High School, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.
Ducro said he never intended to be a funeral director, but because he was the only child in a family of funeral directors, he would just help out, if needed. His studied psychology and business in college and, after graduation, he coached track and cross country at Ashtabula High School.
“I loved that,” he said. “It kept me here and the more time I spent at the funeral home the more I liked it.”
His father suggested he go to mortuary school and become a funeral director.
His father, J.Peter Ducro III died in 2011. He opened the county’s first crematory in the county in 1984 and first pet crematory in 2005.
In recent years, Ducro Funeral Services purchased Zaback Funeral Home in Ashtabula and Greenlawn Memory Gardens in Kingsville. They also merged with Williams Funeral Home in Ashtabula. Bud Williams got his start with J. Peter Ducro III.
In addition to funeral services, Ducro’s offers stretch limousine service for those who like to go to prom, a wedding, homecoming or concert in style.
Flowers on the Avenue on Elm Avenue specializes in floral arrangements for home, business, special occasions, weddings, funerals, and more. They offer 24-hour availability, preplanning consultation, assistance with benefits, such as insurance and retirement, and optional video of the service as a keepsake. Laminated copies of the obituary are available for the immediate family.
Ducro Funeral Services has received the Pursuit of Excellence Award from the National Funeral Director’s Association 10 times, placing them in the National Hall of Excellence.
A tour of the funeral home on Elm Avenue depicts the family’s history, including photographs of all five generations of Ducros.
Some information for this article provided by The Ashtabula County Genealogical Society.