The Oliverie Funeral Home recently opened its second location with a special celebration. Surrounded by family, friends, staff and officials from the funeral industry, owner and founder Geraldine Oliverie said she was very proud of this accomplishment.
Oliverie was the first in her family to pursue a career in funeral directing and she, along with her family’s support, opened her first funeral home in Lakehurst in 1987.
Michael Hennicke worked for the Oliverie Funeral Home part-time after their marriage in 1988. The Lakehurst home was small and served approximately 50 families per year.
The couple took a leap of faith in 2001 and opened a new location in nearby Manchester Township. Her husband, became the Oliverie Funeral Home’s second full time funeral director. The new facility was larger and allowed them to better serve the community as well as provided a home above the business where they raised their three children, Marissa, Bridget, and Michael.
Geraldine Oliverie remarked that “the first year of business was a struggle, but we worked long hours and even maintained the landscaping ourselves to help cut costs.”
The funeral industry first piqued her interest when she was only five years old. Her grandmother passed away suddenly and her parents did not allow her to attend the funeral. Her curiosity grew into a passion, and she graduated Ocean County College before attending the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Services in New York City where she graduated with honors as class Vice President in 1984.
Michael graduated from The University of South Carolina before attending the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Services, class of 1988. Prior to his career in funeral directing, Michael worked for Clayton Limousine Service in Spring Lake.
Their Manchester Township based funeral home utilizes new methods and technology to adapt to the ever-changing industry. This location serves over 200 families per year and strives to make a difference in the community through its multitude of community service opportunities and its involvement with various charities.
The Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester hosts an annual flu clinic where community members can receive a flu vaccine free of charge. They also host an annual blood drive alongside the American Red Cross. The business also collects cereal for a food drive and actively supports the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, the American Cancer Society which honored Geraldine as the Humanitarian of the Year.
She has been a member of the Lakehurst-Manchester Rotary Club since 1989 and the Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester has been awarded the “Best of the Best” in Ocean County for 10 years running, and has been honored for its “Pursuit of Excellence” by the National Funeral Director Association for almost a decade.
The business has also been recognized nationally by the Order of the Golden Rule twice for their outstanding community service. Geraldine has been named the Funeral Director of the Year in 2020 and also received the Golden Light Award for her extensive community involvement.
Geraldine Oliverie said she hopes the Funeral Home continue their reputation as pillars of the community in their new Jackson location at 125 South Cooks Bridge Road. The couple looks forward to developing their business and using their large facility to serve local families in unique ways.
The new funeral home is a state-of-the-art facility that is the only home in Ocean County to partner with Life Celebration which Oliverie said, “offers truly customized and individual funerals and memorial services.”
The new facility features an elegant banquet facility, The Wisteria, as well as an atrium café for patrons. The Café features soft drinks, tea, coffee espresso, cappuccino, sandwiches, muffins and cookies.
“In Manchester we have food outside. Here (in Jackson) we have a food license,” Oliverie added.
Bringing a new level of tribute for loved ones who have passed, the Jackson facility also provides for video screens in each viewing room that provides an audio-visual memory of their life.
“Jackson is our newest and most modern life celebration home. Mike and I have been developing this new concept for many years and after six long years, we are here to celebrate the hard work and effort that it took to be open today,” Oliverie said.
She also thanked her attorney Robert C. Shea, Aquatecture and Pr1ma Builders and those responsible for constructing and designing the facility and for making it as beautiful as it is. “We are pleased to present the life celebration home that we have envisioned. We celebrate your loved one in many ways. From videos to props either provided by family or our funeral home.”
“We help you heal by helping you celebrate the traits that make your loved one who they were. What you remember and loved most about them. You get to honor them during their funeral. Whether during or after the life celebration we now offer a banquet facility on the premises. Never has this been done before in New Jersey,” she added.
“Now more than ever, families need a place to console one another and feed both their minds and body,” Oliverie said.
The staff directory also includes Funeral Directors Christopher Farrant and May Boyce, intern Jordana Blodgett and their grief therapy cat Serena.
“I really want to congratulate the entire Oliverie family, the workers and everyone associated with this facility. It really was a work of love for the Oliverie family for the last six-seven years, this plot of land was originally approved for a 38-unit condominium complex, so you can imagine the dynamics of changing this facility to what it could have been. It was significant. They are truly visionaries in what they achieved here,” Shea of Shea & Associates, Counsellors at Law said.
New Jersey State Funeral Directors Associates Executive Director George Kelder said, “a funeral home tends to both the living and the dead because a death in the family happens to both. Since the mid-1990s Gerry and Mike and their staff have assisted the communities of Lakehurst and Manchester in confronting and disposing of their dead. They helped them and all those who are left behind to remember.”
Kelder added, “they have now expanded this noble offering into this beautiful new contemporary facility in Jackson. As funeral directors they offer to us every day a reassuring gesture, a smile, a kind word and a listening ear.”
Monmouth Ocean Funeral Director Association President Bruce Polcino said, “this is not only brick and mortar, this is blood, sweat and tears. A lot of work went into this. I have known Gerry and Mike for many years on a professional and personal level. I can tell you they are caring people and they are very devoted to their community. I know the families that walk through this door will be treated with the utmost respect, dignity and trust.