Jack Barry

Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home
Jack Barry - FMC Alumni Profile

What was your career background? 

I was a District Fire Chief on the Lynn, MA Fire Dept.  

At what point did you consider that it may be time for a new career? 

When I considered mandatory retirement from the fire service was looming in my foreseeable future.

What drew you to the Funeral Services industry? 

My Dad worked part time in Funeral Service during his retirement and through him I began working part time.

How did being at this stage in life affect your decision to pursue a new career?

I had worked part time for many years in Funeral Service while on the Fire Department so it was more or less a natural move for me.

How did your significant other / family / friends / colleagues react to your decision to pursue another career at this point in your life?

They were very supportive.

How did they react to your decision to pursue this PARTICULAR career?

They were very acceptive to it given my background.

Did you find that your age and experience helped prepare you to succeed in your education?

Yes, it did. I was able to manage my time better and organize myself better because of my life experiences.  

How did you feel about the idea of being in class with much younger students before beginning your education? 

I found it initially intimidating.

Did your feelings about that change after beginning the program? If so, how?

Yes, my feelings did change. After being away from a full-time classroom setting for over 25 years, I was able to adapt. A lot had to do with bonding with the other students and working together especially during the first couple of terms.  

Has your view of the industry changed after having worked in the field for several years? If yes, how so?

Yes, it has. Having been in the business for several years as a Funeral Home Assistant, I now see things totally different as a Director and Embalmer. 

What industry opportunities and trends do you see for the future?

The industry offers so many different opportunities in at need and pre-need directing, sales and embalming. There are many opportunities to meet a Directors professional desires.

There are 2 trends I’ve noticed in Funeral Service, the most obvious being the uptick in cremations and the other being the increase in women in the industry.

Cremation changes a lot of the dynamics in the business especially for owners and their bottom line.

More women in Funeral Service is great and long overdue. A woman’s perspective in this business is so helpful to the co-workers and the families served. I hope it continues.

If you could give advice to others who may be considering a mid / late life career change, what would you say?

Be sure you know what you’re getting into. There’s a lot more to Funeral Service than it appears. There are long hours, a 24/7 commitment in an industry that doesn’t close or takes holidays off and it can be emotional. My background in Fire Service prepared me well in all of those aspects. It’s not for everyone. 

How would you describe your experience as a mortuary science student working toward your career?

It was fun. After the initial apprehension of going back to school, I enjoyed my time there and the people I met, the administration, faculty and students.  

If you could sum up your career path in just 4-5 words, what would you say?

Overall, I have no regrets.