The longest continuously operating business in the community, Upton's only funeral home was established on September 15,
1902, by George Z. Williams in the Crispin Building on North Main Street. The first call for funeral services came in on October
14, 1902 and Mr. Williams, who was also the manager of the local telephone exchange, conducted funerals from the homes of the
Upon the death of George Z. Williams in 1918, the business was taken over by his brother, Fred E. Williams, who operated the
business until his death in 1955. At that time his son, Sidney Williams, became the third member of the Williams family to serve
the death-care needs of Upton and neighboring towns.
The family-owned business was operated as the Williams Funeral Home from a Pleasant Street location and was then moved to a
home at 45 Main Street for greater visibility on the town's main thoroughfare. When changes in funeral customs resulted in a
greater demand for services to be held from the funeral home, a separate 1,800 square-foot building was constructed in 1960
adjacent to the Williams residence.
Sidney Williams retired in 1979, selling the business and property to Kenneth M. Pedersen, Jr. and his wife, Diana, who have
operated the business since then. After continuing to operate as the Williams Funeral Home for a number of years, the name was
eventually changed to the Williams-Pedersen Funeral Home.
In 1981, Ken located and purchased an authentic 1890 Cunningham horse-drawn hearse, similar to that shown on the logo of the
original "George Z. Williams - Furnishing Undertaker" letterhead found in the business' historical records. The funeral home now
offers the use of the horse-drawn hearse for those families requesting it and has incorporated the original logo in its present
day letterhead and advertising.
The size of the funeral home was tripled in 1987 to 5,400 square feet in a major renovation which provided a spacious main
chapel/viewing room and a product selection room to accommodate a large selection of caskets, cremation urns, and burial vaults.
Subsequent improvements have included an expansion of the ample off-street parking lot and the construction of a large garage to
house both modern and vintage livery equipment.
The old funeral home records give a glimpse into the history of Upton, offering a century of details about local funeral
customs handwritten in the pages of several worn, leather-bound journals. The records chronicle the lives and deaths of young
and old, with obituaries describing lives of workers in the West Upton hat factories, prominent careers in politics and
education, tragic deaths caused by accidents, and lives lost in military service. Of particular note among the artifacts is a
yellowing news clipping of the 1952 funeral of famed Broadway actress Gertrude Lawrence, who was buried by Sidney Williams in her
husband's family plot in Lakeview Cemetery, overlooking Pratt Pond.