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ASHTABULA — Ashtabula County’s newest funeral celebrant, Mary “Peachie” Chatman, has spent the last 40 years caring and giving back to her community.

A strong believer in service to others, Chatman recently became the county’s first Black woman to complete a certified funeral celebrant training course through InSight Institute.

A certified funeral celebrant person is a pastor or layperson who is trained and certified to meet the needs of families by providing individualized services during a time of loss, focusing on celebrating the life of an individual.

“It takes a special skill set to comfort grieving families, to show compassion and care at such a trying time and to be able to memorialize a person they may have never met in a way that shows respect, dignity and empathy,” said J.P. Ducro IV, of Ducro Funeral Services in Ashtabula, where Chatman works part-time providing bereavement support and recovery.

Chatman said, “My goal is tocreate a meaningful farewell through incorporating unique anecdotes, interests, and memories with highly personal details that will add so much to the service, creating a healing experience and comforting remembrance for family and friends.”

A graduate of Ashtabula High School and Kent State University, Chatman is a member of the Ashtabula High School/ Harbor High School/Lakeside High School Alumni Hall of Fame for her years of service to the community. An employee of Ashtabula County Job and Family Services for 30 years, she was a graduate of Leadership Ashtabula County and was recently a candidate for Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education.

She has been a volunteer for many organizations including Hospice, Ashtabula County Medical Center Pastoral Department, Salvation Army Board President, and started Career Gear – the first organization in Ashtabula County to provide free business attire to men. She actively fellowships with the Rev. Emory Moore and New Hope COGIC in Ashtabula.

For the past 25 years, she has uplifted those in need through Encouragement, Inc., a non-profit ministry that inspires those who need encouragement to help individuals get through whatever struggles they may be facing. Its mission is Care, Concern, and Compassion.

Chatman also organized and hosted Diva Day for the last 10 years to uplift women in the area.

“I am vested in the future of our community,” she said. “I have spent the past 40 years giving back to the place I call home. My philosophy is that the greatest impact we can have on the course of our lives is being actively involved at the local level.”

She can be reached at

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