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Minnesota’s Wright Funeral Home finds new guardians after 141 years

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Steve Wright, 4th generation funeral director, recently announced that the Wright Funeral Home in Moorhead, Minnesota, had been sold to longtime employee funeral directors and brothers Adam and Bailey Nordin.

The Wright Funeral Home dates back to 1881 and has grown and served the greater Moorhead-Fargo community for 141 years.  Steve Wright assumed full control and operation of the funeral home in 2003 when his brother, Chip, died.

According to this article in the Fargo Forum, (Steve) did briefly consider going into woodworking or construction.  Steve said it eventually became clear to him the funeral business is where he belonged. He now says of his decision, “Really, looking back on it, I can’t imagine what else I would do for a living. It just seemed to me to be kind of a perfect fit for who I am. ‘

Steve and his wife, Leann, made a conscious decision to turn the business over to a couple of qualified employees.  Here’s what Steve Wright said of that decision, “The obvious people would be these guys who are already doing what we want to be doing. They’re cut out for it, and they’re both about 40. So, if you’re going to give them some time to run and make a mark, they only have 20 years.” They’re the right age and the right people. I could wait around some more years and not have the right people.”

And, again according to the article, the Nordin brothers are grateful for the opportunity the Wrights have presented them in owning and operating their own funeral establishment.  Baily Nordin is quoted in the article saying this, “We sincerely appreciate the trust that the Wrights have placed in us. My brother and I understand how important it is to carry on the Wright family’s legacy, and we take this honor very seriously.”

Funeral Director Daily take:  This is a great story.  The Wright family has done a fabulous job of caring for their community for 141 years.  That’s no small feat.  And yet, they are giving two young men the opportunity to carry on that tradition while building one of their own.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

While we don’t know each other real well, Wright Funeral Home and my former funeral home, Anderson Funeral Home, have a lot in common. . . You see, our funeral home which is celebrating 150 years in business this year was also in its 4th generation when sold in 2013 and the Wrights situation is almost identical.. . and we are only 100 miles from each other so we do know each other.

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

In addition, my wife, Angie, and I had two boys, who while getting their feet wet in the business as youngsters, had no intention of becoming funeral directors.  Their eyes and interests were turned in other directions and as a 27-year old and a 23-year old they have both graduated from college and have embarked on their chosen careers. . . .which as a parent is a joy to see.

It is interesting for me to see what Steve said of his children’s history.  In the article he states, “Neither of them really developed an interest in it. … Moreover, I think my wife discouraged them. She knew what it was — a 24/7 commitment. She just thought they might be able to enjoy a more free life.  “They’re both off doing things that they like and are doing very well.”

Quite frankly, that is how Angie and I feel about our children.  While funeral service is for some. . . . if your children don’t hone in on it as a career, generational funeral home owners need to look down the road at alternatives for what will become of their funeral home business at some point in the future.

When you get to that point realizing the best for your children will be to put the funeral business in other’s hands and let the children know it is okay to go off on their own and pursue their interests, it does cause a dilemma about what to do with the funeral home business. . . .especially for a family business that has “served” a community for 141 years.

For many of you who don’t own generational funeral homes, you may not understand this. . . . but, the big decision will not be about money. . . . it will be about who can carry on your family’s generational work in your community when your family is not there to do so.  That becomes the dilemma.

In my case, when I thought of divesting, I spent a lot of time at the cemetery talking to my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who had led the business before me.  Knowing that my children would not follow me, I prayed about the best way to move the funeral home forward in our community. . . . at the end of the day, over eight years later, I’m happy with the decisions that were made.

I know Steve and Leann Wright thought a lot about the succession of their funeral home also.  And, I know that they made the proper decision too, and now can enjoy some of the fruits of their labor knowing that they made a thoughtful and conscientious decision about carrying on the Wright legacy for years to come.

Here is the Wright Funeral Home website

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