Northeast Times

A family business

Rakowski fam­ily takes over Joseph T. Sekula Fu­ner­al Home. 

An­drew Rakowski with his wife, Laura, daugh­ters Jenna (right) and Kath­ryn (cen­ter) and son An­drew, Jr. The fam­ily will reside above the fu­ner­al par­lor, loc­ated at Thompson and Al­legheny. CAR­O­LAN DI­FIORE/STAR PHO­TOS

An­drew Rakowski stood in the base­ment of 2634 Al­legheny Ave. in Port Rich­mond, home to the new­est fu­ner­al home in the neigh­bor­hood. His wife, Laura, and three chil­dren, Jenna, 12, Kath­ryn, 6, and 21-month-old An­drew, Jr., sat close by. They are no strangers to the fu­ner­al busi­ness; Jenna has helped ar­range flowers for ser­vices, and Laura does sec­ret­ari­al work when she’s not on the job as a nurse.

“It really is a strong fam­ily busi­ness,” Rakowski said. 

Al­though he’s worked in the busi­ness for over 15 years, Rakowski said this is the first fu­ner­al home he’s owned. 

“I lit­er­ally star­ted from the bot­tom,” Rakoswki said, who worked at a vari­ety of fu­ner­al homes since he was in high school, where he began do­ing vari­ous land­scap­ing work such as cut­ting the grass. After watch­ing his old­est broth­er be­come a doc­tor, Rakowski said he ori­gin­ally as­pired to fol­low a sim­il­ar path and be­come a med­ic­al ex­am­iner. As he ad­vanced up the to­tem pole in the fu­ner­al busi­ness, however, his plans changed.  

Rakowski gradu­ated from Mer­cer County Com­munity Col­lege and has been work­ing in the fu­ner­al busi­ness in the Phil­adelphia and sur­round­ing area ever since. He and his fam­ily plan to reside in the up­per floors of the fu­ner­al home, but not be­fore some mod­ern­iz­ing renov­a­tions to both the in­side and out­side of the build­ing.

In ad­di­tion to the up­dates and changes to be done on the in­side, Rakowski also had a han­di­cap-ac­cess­ible en­trance around the back of the build­ing. Rakowski said he is try­ing to util­ize the com­munity busi­nesses for much of the con­struc­tion be­ing done to the fu­ner­al home and his fam­ily’s even­tu­al home. 

Ori­gin­ally from the Somer­ton sec­tion of the city, the fam­ily said they are ready to ac­cept the chal­lenge of this drastic life­style change.

“This will be a chal­lenge, but I like to see it as the start of a new ad­ven­ture,” Rakowski’s wife, Laura said. 

The over­all re­cep­tion from area res­id­ents has been pos­it­ive, Rakowski said. 

“People will come up to us and in­tro­duce them­selves to me,” he said. “They seem very pleased that we’ll all be liv­ing here in the neigh­bor­hood and work­ing closely with­in the com­munity.” 

The Rakowskis are no strangers to the neigh­bor­hood, with many fam­ily ties to Port Rich­mond. Rakowski’s par­ents and grand­par­ents were born and raised in Port Rich­mond, and his wife’s step­fath­er was a long­time mem­ber of St. Adal­bert’s school fac­ulty in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  

“There’s such a sol­id neigh­bor­hood feel­ing here,” Laura said. 

Rakowski said he is look­ing for­ward to get­ting in­volved in the close-knit com­munity. 

“It’s great to be able to help people dur­ing one of the toughest times in their lives,” Rakowski said. 

You can reach at cdifiore@bsmphilly.com.

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