It was nearly 100 years ago, Frank A. and Mary Welsh, a young newlywed couple residing in Chelsea, were proprietors of a small laundry Pick-up-delivery Service. Frank also worked from time to time assisting his uncle Michael Welsh at his undertaking establishment Chelsea. Michael, a Civil War Veteran established himself as the first Catholic Undertaker in Chelsea, sadly he took ill and was not able to conduct his business affairs. The younger Mr. Welsh obtained an undertakers certificate and with the blessing of his Uncle and the encouragement of his wife Mary that Frank succeeded his uncle and established himself as “Frank A. Welsh, Undertaker & Embalmer” on December 9, 1912. Employing his brothers and with their help he continued providing funeral directing services to numerous families of Chelsea from his home office on Orange St. In those early years, the overwhelming majority of wakes, funerals and sometimes even the embalming itself took place in the family home. Undertaking establishments only needed a “Store Front” not unlike any other purveyor or retailer of the day. The “Store Front” would have an office, a private room for preparation and place to store his funeral wares and equipment. A small parlor area for viewing the deceased may have been added for those families who did not have a suitable home for theses purposes. It was during the 1920’s, Mr. Welsh established his “Store Front” Office and “Waking Parlor” at 721 Broadway in Chelsea.
During the 1920’s many families did not own cars and most people relied on the undertaker for their transportation needs. A local florist assisted Mr. Welsh fulfill these needs by supplying his limousine for hire; he also assisted the Welsh’s delivering funeral equipment to families homes. In 1930 Mr. Welsh encouraged that 37 year old man to establish himself as Anthony Zaksheski Funeral Service at 79 Broadway in Chelsea.
In 1934 the Welsh family acquired the former “Burns Funeral Home” located at 718 Broadway. They first used this new location as their own private residence and secondary Parlor for wakes and funerals. The Welsh’s, their two sons and one daughter resided there for many years. Their only daughter was stricken with polio; she remained at home and was cared for by the family her entire life. Franks eldest son was the first to join him in funeral service. William Francis Welsh, “Fran” graduated from the Boston School of Anatomy and Embalming in 1938, he also became a Licensed Funeral Director and Registered Embalmer, and the establishment was renamed Frank A. Welsh & Son Funeral Service. During WW II their two sons, “Fran” and their youngest son John G. Welsh served in the armed forces. Upon Johns return from the service he enrolled in the New England Institute of Sanitary Science, Embalming and Funeral Directing he graduated in 1949 and joined his father and brother assisting what has since been known as “Frank A. Welsh and Sons Funeral Service” Frank Welsh died suddenly in 1950, Mrs. Mary Welsh and her two sons continued to operate the funeral home, until Fran and John formed a partnership to run the day to day operation. Both brothers knew that funeral service was fast changing, fewer families wanted to hold wakes from their own home and more requested the use of a dedicated Home for Funerals. The second post war change was that now, almost every family had their own car. To accommodate these changes and better serve their client families, the Welsh’s began to create what is still the largest funeral parking facility in city and the immediate area. They also enlarged the building at 718 Broadway providing potentially three individual Parlors to accommodate Wakes and Funerals of countless local residents from our famous and infamous to many ordinary Chelsea residents.
In the 1960’s Fran’s daughter Patricia pursued studies at New England Institute of Anatomy and Science and obtained her license in Funeral Directing and Embalming, there have been other local women in Funeral Service in Chelsea but, Patricia Welsh Markarian was the first female registered embalmer in Chelsea. Fran’s son Frank A. Welsh II “Skip” followed his sister attending NE Institute and joined the family firm as well. The Welsh family continued to operate the Funeral Home from 1912, for 87 years to day on December 10, 1999 when they passed control to Peter A. Zaksheski, grandson of Anthony Zaksheski. The same man they helped to begin a career in Funeral Service