The very first Donohue Funeral Home was originally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 54th and Market Streets. In 1938, the family members opened the present location at 8401 West Chester Pike (at the corner of Lynn Blvd.) in Upper Darby, PA in what was their summer home. In 1968, they closed the Philadelphia location.
The Donohue family expanded the business to Chester County in 1974, when it purchased the Edward L. Townsend Funeral Home in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The funeral home had been in operation for over 40 years before the Donohue family bought it. Expansion to Chester County was a natural tendency for the family. A majority of the Donohue family was moving out to the Chester County suburbs, and even their Delaware County clients started heading west.
When the descendants of founders John P. Donohue and Nicholas C. Donohue discuss the business, it is with a great deal of pride – with not only a sense of history – but also the caring and integrity demonstrated for the past 120-plus years.
John A. Donohue and the late Raymond F. Donohue, the oldest brothers in the business at the time, used to talk about the evolution of the funeral business and some of its milestones. "I think the Irish always laid claim to this business because of their sense of humor," John A. said. "That may sound macabre, but the Irish accept death as an inevitability. You know, she's in a better place.” Raymond, deemed the unofficial family historian, proudly talked about the first motorized hearse in Philadelphia. "It amazed me how my grandfather was able to move around the city before he got this. In those days, burial was almost immediate because there was no way of preserving bodies. The best they could do was rest them on a slab of ice. My grandfather knew where every livery was in the city. When someone died, he sent someone ahead, usually one of his kids, to hire a horse and carriage to transport the body. Then he would take the trolley to the person's house, bringing along his professional equipment. He would dress the body and place into a casket, carry onto the hearse and would be taken to the church or cemetery."
Today, the Donohue Funeral Home is guided by the descendants as the fourth and fifth generation of brothers and cousins have entered the business including John J., Michael K., John R., Daniel F., James T. Donohue, Peter F. Huf and James L. Huf.