Our North Country family began a career in funeral service in 1939, and has been offering families personal and professional care for three generations. Lester Edward Thew graduated that year from Simmons School of Mortuary Science in Syracuse. He served his apprenticeship in Elmira, NY, and later worked for Clough Bros. Furniture and Undertaking in Peru. After serving in the United States Army during WWII, he returned to Peru and worked for William Delorme Funeral Home.
Following a career with Mr. Delorme that spanned more than 30 years, Lester and his wife, Barbara Cromie Thew, decided to open their home to local families on the Mannix Road in Peru in 1974. Lester also ran a dairy farm and apple orchard with his step-father-in-law, Ross E. Clark, while Barbara and her brother Donald operated an insurance business from the same location. In 1978, Lester’s health slowed his participation. However he continued to remain involved in the family business until his death in 1999.
Robert R. “Chip” Hamilton, a Mooers Forks native, son of Robert W. and Mabel H. (Belrose) Hamilton, married Lester and Barbara’s daughter, Patricia Thew in 1972. Chip earned his funeral director’s license, also from Simmons, and joined the family business in 1975. Chip performed his apprenticeship with Matthew McDonough in Keeseville and subsequently purchased the McDonough funeral businesses in Keeseville and Westport in 1978. He operated in Keeseville from the convent across from St. John’s Church until 1994 when he purchased Bailey-Winterkorn Funeral Home from proprietor and funeral director Andrew Winterkorn.
Neil Edward Hamilton officially joined the family business in 1996, making his grandfather very proud. Neil quickly took a leading role, yet continued to work very closely with Lester and Chip, allowing the funeral home to grow with the times, yet retaining the community-based feel, and keeping traditional connections that we are known for.
Following Lester’s passing in 1999 the Hamilton Family made the decision to create a spacious and more current building to better serve families. The Peru location was built as a brand new building offering a large carport, two spacious visitation rooms, ample seating, and a 130-car parking lot. The Peru location was constructed as a single-level building making it accessible to all. When the Peru building was finalized in 2001, the decision was made to replace the “Lester E. Thew Funeral Home” name with “Hamilton Funeral Home” for consistency with the other locations.
The Keeseville location currently remains conveniently located, downtown, on Clinton Street. In 2008 the Westport Funeral Home location was sold to the Marvin Family of Elizabethtown.
Due to Chip having many friends and family in the Northern Tier, it has long been a dream of his to have a funeral home in Mooers. That desire has finally become a reality. The new funeral home located at 793 Gilbert Road is now open to serve the community.
As we expand to Mooers, the Hamilton family is dedicated to maintaining a personal connection to people in the communities they serve, and are committed to providing caring, compassionate, and dignified service.