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.