Death becomes her

By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  February 27, 2009

Plenty of women are attracted to funeral service simply because, like Peterson, they want to help those in need. Maybe, for some, this is an extension of some inherent "Mommy" impulse. For others, like Lindsay Lincoln, 19, this desire to manage crises is prompted by experience. "In high school, three of my best friends' fathers died tragically," says Lincoln, a student at NEI who also works in the customer-service division of Dodge Chemical Company, one of the world's premier distributors of embalming chemicals, located right by the Alewife MBTA station in Cambridge. (It is also home to a collection of funeral-oriented oddities in its basement. See photo above.) "I was always around funerals and wakes, always helping my friends. I thought, what better way to give back to people and help them then go into this field?"

"When I started working in this industry back in the early '70s, it was a difficult time to be a woman in the field," says Roan, the director of Conley Funeral & Cremation Service, who initially worked as a physical therapist before joining Conley, also a family business. "And in Brockton, at the time, there weren't any other women who were licensed. I had to fight to prove myself.

"I would hate to think that anybody would think there are limitations to being a woman in this business," she adds. "How can we help women get their foot in the door? For starters, I think it's persistence. . . . This is a 24/7 job, 365 days a year. Death takes no holiday."

Sara Faith Alterman can be reached at

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