Media Archive

Lary Funeral Home marks 70th year

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 3, January 21, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT A longstanding member of the local business community for the past 70 years, Lary Funeral Home prides itself on quality specialized service and attention to peoples' needs at a difficult time.

The business started in 1934 when Harold Lary moved to Dover-Foxcroft from Skowhegan. In addition to offering memorial and funeral services, Lary acted as an ambulance in the early years, transporting patients to the hospital.

After Lary's death in the late 1950s, longtime employee Philip Annis bought the business. Now his son, Eric Annis, runs Lary Funeral Home in Dover-Foxcroft and Milo.

Eric Annis grew up in the home upstairs at the Dover-Foxcroft location. From an early age, he would assist his father in some of the everyday business of operating the funeral home.

"I bought the business in 1988," Annis said. "I was born and brought up in it, and I saw a great deal of value in what my dad did. I was impressed with the ease he put people at during what is a very trying time."

Annis studied business at the University of Maine in Orono, before attending the New England Institute of Mortuary Science in Boston. In order to maintain his state license as a funeral director, Annis also is required to earn continuing education credits annually, by attending various classes offered by state and national trade associations and professional groups.

The business currently employs two licensed funeral directors (Annis is,one of them), in addition to full-time and part-time help. The owner said that one of the biggest changes he has noticed over the years is the amount of paperwork required by the state and federal governments.

"Our mortuary trust agreements used to be one page. Now they're eight," he said. "It can be very difficult and time-consuming, but was a much needed change to protect the consumer."

Lary Funeral Home offers a "total range of services, from memorial services and cremation services to transportation to veteran's cemeteries and traditional funeral services with burials in local cemeteries,"Annis said.

More and more, he said, people are planning ahead for their funerals and all that goes with them. Annis said he tries to send everyone away with different ideas, which can then be discussed with family.

"It can be very difficult and very stressful," Annis admitted. "One of my main objectives is to try to pull things together, so everyone's needs have been met."

He said many are putting money away in a mortuary trust fund. This money can be used at a later date, he said, to pay for the final funeral expenses.

Through a related memorial business started by Philip Annis in 1957, Piscataquis Monumental Co. in Dover-Foxcroft, Lary also can offer custom markers and monuments, with inscriptions, etchings and other personal touches.

While the trend nationally is for smaller funeral homes to be bought by larger chains, Annis said he would like to maintain Lary Funeral Home as an independent family-owned and locally-operated business. He said his son, 19-year-old Ethan Annis, now a student at the University of Maine in Orono, has expressed an interest in continuing the family business.

In the meantime, the present owner is pleased with his role in the business.

"I enjoy it a lot. I enjoy the people. I enjoy the size of the business,'' Annis said, "I particularly like to take care of the buildings and lawns myself."

Lary Funeral Home is located at 62 Summer St. in Dover-Foxcroft and 31 Elm St. in Milo. For more information or to make an appointment with Annis in Dover-Foxcroft call 564-3391, or call funeral director Mark Robinson in Milo at 943-2231.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.