The cabinetmaking services are just memories for the modern MacDonald's Funeral Home. Ed MacDonald, his wife Nancy and son Brian own the business that has been in the family since Ed's uncle Alfred Rehle purchased in 1929.
The funeral home has not always been at its landmark location at 315 North Michigan. As Cardell's it was at the corner of Grand River and Walnut and then moved to Center Street. Harvey Goodrich took ownership in 1887 and moved the business to the 200 block of West Grand River Ave, where it remained until John R. MacDonald, Ed's father, named it MacDonald's Funeral Parlor in 1932 and moved it to its present location in 1936. Since then it has undergone four expansions and renovations to the meet the needs for the many Howell families that depend on MacDonald's.
Ed MacDonald joined his father and brother in the family business in 1951. At that time MacDonald's, like about 90 percent of funeral homes throughout the state, provided ambulance service. An emergency call any time during the night or day would find the family pressed into service and transport an accident victim or seriously ill person to McPherson Hospital, located then at the corner of Michigan and Clinton. At other times, MacDonald's would transport patients from the state tuberculosis sanitarium in Howell to University of Michigan hospitals. The ambulance service covered almost the entire county until it was discontinued in 1969.
The MacDonald family is known for its active participation in the Howell community. Both Brian and Ed have been named Citizens of the Year. Each has served at different times on the board of directors of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce. And, coincidentally, both served on the chamber building committees: Ed for the purchase and renovation of the Victorian house that used to serve as chamber offices and Brian for the construction of the modern new facility the chamber moved to in 1996.
The funeral business has changed some during the past 50 years. Visitations are no longer held in the family home. The cabinetmaker is no longer the undertaker and highly-trained paramedics have taken the place of the ambulance service. But the MacDonald family stresses that personal, compassionate care for a family in grief has remained the same over their business' 140 year history.
The well-being of their client families is paramount to MacDonald's. Making things a little easier during a difficult time has resulted in additional services besides the traditional funeral, including funeral pre-planning, loss support groups, cremation services, monuments and markers.
"We have served families for generations," said Ed MacDonald. "We provide personalized family service at a time when it is needed most."