Spacht Funeral Home sold

By on April 1, 2015
Bill Spacht (left) and Chip Snyder like to keep the focus on family. (photo by Laura Knowles)

Bill Spacht (left) and Chip Snyder like to keep the focus on family. (photo by Laura Knowles)

Bill Spacht couldn’t be happier that his one-time competitor has purchased Spacht Funeral Home in Lititz.

On March 25, it was official. Spacht Funeral Home is now Spacht Snyder Funeral Home.

“I wouldn’t say that we were competitors,” said Spacht. “We were colleagues who respected each other.”

What makes Spacht especially pleased is that the funeral home his father started in 1919 is once again locally owned and operated by a family that cares as much about Lititz as his family has.

The Snyder family, which includes Chip Snyder, his wife Doreen and their son Chad Snyder, all live in the Lancaster and Lititz area. They have made it their mission to create a warm family environment in the funeral home that was was started by Chip’s father, Charles F. Snyder, on East King Street in Lancaster. Chip is Charles Jr. and Chad is Charles III.

“I grew up in the funeral home business, and so did my son. Just as Bill grew up in the business his father started,” said Chip Snyder. “We have a very similar view on serving families.”

For the past few years, Spacht Funeral Home was owned by an outside company. When they decided to sell, Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home saw it as an opportunity to restore Spacht to being locally family-owned and operated once again. They decided to rename it as Spacht Snyder Funeral Home to join the two family legacies together.

Even though Bill Spacht retired several years ago, he continued to be involved in the funeral home. He often visited a few times a week to check up on things and to visit with the friends he had known most of his life.

Outside the Spacht Snyder Funeral Home at 127 S. Broad St. are (left to right) Michele DeRosa, Chip Snyder, Doreen Snyder, Bill Spacht, Chad Snyder, and Jackie Adamson. (photo by Laura Knowles)

Outside the Spacht Snyder Funeral Home at 127 S. Broad St. are (left to right) Michele DeRosa, Chip Snyder, Doreen Snyder, Bill Spacht, Chad Snyder, and Jackie Adamson. (photo by Laura Knowles)

Even at 88, Spacht continues to visit regularly. When a Lititz friend passed away recently, he wanted to check up on the details and help the family in their grieving process.

“That’s one of the things that makes us so very much alike. We care about the people we serve and we are very involved with our families,” said Chad Snyder.

Spacht Snyder Funeral Home will be the fourth location for Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home, which was started in Lancaster more than 60 years ago. The first location was founded by Charles F. Snyder at 414 E. King St. Later they opened another location at 441 N. George St. in Millersville. The third location is in Manheim Township, close to the border with Lititz, at 3110 Lititz Pike, near the airport.

At that location. there is a spacious facility with plenty of parking, offering a more modern setting. With all of their funeral home locations, Charles F. Snyder has focused on providing traditional and non-traditional services for all faiths, denominations and languages. They also provide services for veterans, with arrangements for honor guards and salutes.

“It’s been very important to make each place warm and welcoming,” said Doreen Snyder. “We are here for families at the saddest time in their lives, when they have lost a loved one.”

Like the funeral homes in Lancaster and Millersville, the Spacht Snyder Funeral Home will have a more traditional town feeling. The home on Lititz Pike is more contemporary. Lititz residents will be able to choose which type of home they prefer and will benefit from the service and experience of the entire staff. Those who choose cremation will know that “their loved one never leaves our care,” says Chip Snyder, noting that cremation is done on-site at the Lititz Pike location.

Familiar faces at Spacht Snyder Funeral Home will include funeral director Michele DeRosa, who has been at Spacht since 2013. Harlo Smith has been office manager since 1999. Lititz resident Jackie Adamson will serve as funeral director and preplanning specialist, having worked at Snyder since 1997. Other support staff will continue to serve at the Lititz funeral home.

Chip, Chad and Doreen Snyder will be at Spacht Snyder on a regular basis. And Bill Spacht plans to drop by often to keep tabs on things. They plan to do some landscaping and freshen up the interior with warm, comfortable furnishings. Their hope is to continue the tradition started by Ralph Spacht and his son Bill in Lititz.

“I don’t think you can ever retire from this business,” said Spacht. “This has been my life all my life.”

Bill grew up in Lititz as the funeral director’s son. When Ralph Spacht opened the funeral home in 1919 it was at 61 E. Main St., across from the Lititz Post Office.

In 1925, Spacht’s moved to the grand brick building known as Rudy’s Hall at 27-29-31 E. Main St., where they had a funeral home and a furniture store.

“That was very common in the old days,” said Spacht.

Many small towns combined services of furniture makers and funeral homes for one very good reason. The furniture maker could build wooden caskets. In the early days families often held funerals in their own homes, with viewings or wakes in the living room or dining room. The local cabinet maker began building caskets and in time, funerals were held at the furniture shop so that families had a more public place to hold funerals.

The Spachts were carrying on that tradition with the furniture store on the main floor and the funeral home on the upper floor. The Spacht family also lived there, available to handle funeral arrangements at all hours, or even sell a coffee table or desk.

Ralph Spacht was a community leader, who donated the first location for the Lititz Community Center near Lititz Springs Park. Later, his son Bill Spacht played a major role in the new Lititz Rec Center near Warwick High School.

When the Rudy Building was remodeled and transformed into R.M. Spacht, it created quite a stir. Heralded as one of the most noteworthy buildings in Lititz, there were tours and much excitement for the brick building that rose up three stories high.

In July 1926, the Lititz Record called it a “Fine Furniture Palace.” The front-page article went on to detail the luxuries of how Rudy’s Hall was “Magnificently Transformed and Beautified.”

The story went on to commend Ralph Spacht for remodeling, enlarging and beautifying “the structure so that it is now more than ever the outstanding and most attractive temple dedicated to a trade in Lititz.”

“The front is imposing and attention compelling. Over the wide entrance is a beautiful keystone effect in which are inscribed the street numbers. In large relief letters of bronze across the front, above the show windows you see R.M. Spacht Furniture,” continued the story, adding that Muhler tiling is on the floor leading to the triple entrance doors of pleasing French Louis XIV design, trimmed with copper with brass push bars, kick plates and hinges.

“An elegant Westminster chime clock, Belgian tapestries and furniture displays could be seen through the grand showroom windows, framed by massive supporting columns in a Greek Doric or Ionian architectural adaptation.

“Marvels increase as you arrive on the third floor. While furniture is much in evidence here, a large section is reserved for funeral services. From 100 to 200 persons may be seated. A platform is provided with a pulpit to accommodate officiating clergymen.

Funeral parties can reach the chapel by means of an Otis elevator, which will accommodate 15 passengers or a casket with six pall bearers,” continued the article.

Ralph Spacht even commissioned Belgian artist Franz de Merlier to paint the beautiful mural right inside the door. Funerals were later moved to the first floor, and in 1951, Ralph retired, and his son Bill took over the family business.

In 1958, Bill and his wife Ruth moved the funeral home to a spacious Victorian style home at 127 S. Broad St., where they also lived. The furniture business remained at the East Main Street location for many years, then in 1982, the building was sold to Bill Bell, who operated his gloriously cluttered Lititz Office Products for many more years.

That location had origins that dated back to 1775 when it was owned by John Henry Rauch, inventor of the screw auger. William C. Enck later lived there, and had a candy and cough drop business. In 1900, butcher Miles Rudy constructed the building, which was used as a meeting hall, staged performances and hosted all sorts of shows and conventions. Today, it is the home of JoBoy’s Brew Pub, with Moravian Manor offices on the third floor and other businesses on the lower level.

“Spacht’s Funeral Home has been an integral part of Lititz for many years. I am pleased that Spacht and Snyder will be serving the families of Lititz together,” said Bill Spacht. “And I’ll continue to keep an eye on things.”

Laura Knowles is a local freelance reporter for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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