New York State Funeral Directors Association

I distinctly remember the day I told my father I wanted to continue my education and obtain my funeral director’s license, never thinking I would make a lifetime career out of it.

My father never encouraged - nor dissuaded - any of his children from entering the family business.

So, my coming to him with this request was unanticipated.

He was supportive, but felt we needed his father’s blessing, even though my grandfather, at that point in time, was semi-retired.

However, my dad still felt our family business necessitated having his father’s approval.

That was the first lesson: Always respect the advice and opinions of the previous generation (although you may not always agree).

The lessons my dad - Bill McVeigh - taught me over the last 35 years have been a plethora of instinct, experience and common sense.

To condense it into several paragraphs is a challenge. But here goes:

Lesson #2: There was a lot I needed to know, but time and experience are always the best teachers.

He would see me falter ... make mistakes (and I’m sure it was painful), but never berated me.

He would say, “ Well, you’ll never make that mistake again.” And he was right!

When I began my residency, he made it clear that a senior funeral director that had worked at our firm for nearly ten years would manage my work.

He did not want the stain of nepotism to touch me.

He instinctively knew that in order for me to be respected as a professional, he would need to step away.Funeral Director William McVeigh and daughters Laurel, top, and Kristin

He did not want me perceived as “daddy’s little girl.”

Another important lesson and one I hope others will learn from.

John Konik took on this role, as awkward as it was, with grace and humility.

I am eternally grateful to him for being my mentor, and to my father for recognizing the importance of this decision.

That was lesson #3; My dad taught me to put ego aside, let others aid in your formation and always remember to share the limelight.

It has been an interesting journey, but not one I have traveled alone.

Albany’s Capital Region has a rich history of daughters following in their father’s footsteps. Forging a path that made it easier for me were Kathleen Reinfurt , Ellen McNulty, Susan Dreis, Kristen Frederick.

My dad had the foresight to introduce me to these amazing women.

They were not only an inspiration, but an ideal to achieve.

He instinctively recognized that their experiences were unique from his own.

They could enlighten me in a way that was unfamiliar to him.

Although, competitors, I could learn from these women to achieve the common good and further our mission in funeral service.

The fact that there are so many daughters that followed their fathers in business in our community speaks volumes of their fathers’ legacies.

Other women, that were licensed about the same time as me include Lynn Purcell, Susan Reilly, Marie Keenan, Susan Daley, Sharon Babcock, Mary Millspaugh Camaratto.

My father advised me to seek out their support, a shared common experience could only enrich our businesses, but more importantly, funeral service.

Of course, the story would not be complete if I didn't mention that my father traveled this road twice.

His youngest daughter, my sister Laurel, entered the business shortly after me.

So, he began again. Another road filled with trials and tribulations, but mostly extreme pride.

My dad would make the same joke, to my sister and I, ad nauseum, “It’s not father and son, it’s daughters and father.”

His humbleness and pride still astound me.

For all the dads out there and the children that they have inspired, Happy Father’s Day!