The funeral home where a longtime friend and family member died this week is getting a new life.
The Ashland funeral home in Oregon is renovating the historic church, the funeral home’s building and its grounds to make it more hospitable to families with disabilities, said Beth Mazzocco, a spokeswoman for the funeral service.
Mazzoccos told ABC News the funeral will take place in June at the church.
The new facility is being named after Mary A. Woodman, a former funeral director who worked at the funeral homes and funeral homes in Ashland, a rural area near the Oregon border, for more than 40 years.
“We are grateful to Beth and her family for the tremendous service she and her husband have provided,” Mazzo said.
“We want to make sure the next generations have a place to call home.”
Ashlands funeral home, which was a funeral home before it closed in 2006, was one of the first funeral homes to accept wheelchair users.
Many funeral homes offer handicapped people free or low-cost transportation to the funeral, said Heather M. Moseley, a funeral director and co-owner of Ashland Funeral Home.
She said she hopes the new facility will help attract more disabled people to the area.
“I think that we need to encourage people to come to Ashland because it is such a hospitable community,” she said.
For the past two decades, the family of Mary Woodman has been working to renovate the church that once housed a local church and a funeral homes.
The family’s story has been told in several Ashland newspapers and TV programs.
The funeral home was built in 1875 by a widow who left her husband a small farm, said Lisa Hurd, who leads Ashland’s history program.
In 1926, the widow married the pastor of the Ashland Methodist Church, then became a pastor of Ashlands First Baptist Church, which the couple ran until they sold it in 2007.
Mary Woodman worked as a funeral manager, said Hurd.
She said Mary Woodmans husband died of a stroke in 1926, and she and the couple’s son died a year later.
After the couple died, the couple moved to Ashlands, and Mary Woodmers children lived with her.
“She was really a loving and caring person,” Hurd said.
Mary Woodmans son, Michael, was married to the Rev. Robert E. Woodmans, who served as Ashlands first pastor.
“She really did a great job of caring for people,” Hults said.
Hults recalled that her mother was an ordained minister who prayed daily and would visit church on Sunday mornings, but her son would not.
“Mary was a very devoted mother,” Haults said of Mary.
“She loved her kids very much and loved people.”
The family was very loving, but there was a lot of neglect,” Hurlts said, noting that many of the people who cared for the children during their youth had died.”
They weren’t given the opportunities to be part of the community.
“In 2009, the state Department of Corrections released Mary Woodmants son, Thomas, into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In the early years, Thomas attended a local day care, and then attended a summer camp in Ashlands.
He was released in 2010, and later enrolled at the University of Oregon.
He became a freshman in high school in 2015, but transferred to another day care before transferring to a different school.