‘It’s always about service’

Overton Funeral Home celebrates 100 years


Since 1923, the Overton family has been serving the Islip community at their funeral home on Main Street. Founded by Arthur “Doc” Overton in a house on Main Street across from Monell Avenue, Overton moved to 140 Main Street after five years. In 1930, the present venue was established in the Charles Vivian Estate at 172 Main Street. According to Eric S. Buehler, the managing director at Overton and direct descendent of Arthur Overton, the first funeral conducted by Overton was that of a stillborn who died Jan. 16, 1923. The Queen Anne-style Victorian home was originally one of two on the former H.G. Timmerman Estate, located on Ocean Avenue just north of Havemeyer’s Bayberry Point, and was built in 1881, before it was moved across the creek to its current location. In 1953, the building was altered with living quarters being moved to the second floor and three permanent chapels established on the ground floor. Ten years later, a wing was added, providing two additional large chapels and office space. Now, five chapels are available to serve the families of Islip and the surrounding areas. 

The Overton Funeral Home is a family operation. Arthur, the founder, a native of Patchogue, and Cornelia, born in West Sayville, were married in 1920, and three years later took Islip into their hearts. Arthur and Cornelia had three children: Joyce, Shirley and Wayne. Shirley, a lifelong resident of Islip, and Fred Voss, raised in Bay Shore, married in 1949. In 1960, Fred began his career in funeral service, and in 1968, became president and manager until his retirement in 1986. 

Shirley, who died in 1994, was secretary and treasurer. Joyce, who died in 2008, has a son, Kent, who joined the business in 1975 and served as a funeral director until 1988, when he moved to Florida. Wayne, a former school administrator, became president and manager upon Fred’s retirement. Fred died in 1998. Wayne’s wife, Lois, a nurse and special education teacher, joined the firm in 1986 as a licensed funeral director. Lois retired in May 2003 and Wayne followed suit in December of the same year. Shirley’s daughter, Nancy Buehler, joined the firm in 1983 and serves as vice president, and is responsible for accounting, bookkeeping, and correspondence. Eric Buehler, Nancy’s son, joined the business full-time in September of 2001 and took over as manager when Wayne retired. Michael Folks, a funeral director originally from Sayville, joined the staff in 1996 and has over 30 years of experience in the funeral business. Sean Ward, a licensed funeral director originally from Bohemia, joined the firm in 2016 and is responsible for the embalming and preparation work. Rounding out the professional staff is Robert Smith, a lifelong resident who joined the firm in 1970 and retired from full-time directing in 2016, though he continues to assist with preparation duties in a part-time capacity. 

Buehler said that Overton takes great pride in being part of the Islip community. 

“It’s a small hometown community,” Buehler said. “We have a wonderful downtown Main Street. We have a lot of families.”

Arthur Overton was a founding member of the Islip Chamber of Commerce in 1923. The funeral home belongs to the Islip and Bay Shore chambers of commerce as well as the National, New York State, and Nassau-Suffolk funeral directors associations. The funeral home is a regular supporter of local branches of the American Legion, Hospice, the Lions Club, Rotary, the Masons, the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, our local places of worship, as well as our surrounding volunteer fire departments. 

Every year, Overton provides a $750 scholarship to a graduating senior from Islip High School. 

“Our scholarship was always designed for a student who doesn’t have to be ranked No. 2 in their graduating class,” Buehler said. It’s for just a student who wants to continue their education—a well-rounded student.”

When asked what he thinks allowed for Overton to hit the 100-year mark, Buehler said that it all comes down to the quality personal service they provide to their families. 

“It’s always about service,” Buehler said


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