Cooper Funeral Home in Medina has a new owner

Photos by Tom Rivers: Tim Cooper, left, sold Cooper Funeral Home last month to Jacob Hebdon, who has worked alongside Cooper as a funeral director since 2007.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 January 2019 at 9:16 am

Jacob Hebdon has worked with Tim Cooper since 2007

MEDINA – Cooper Funeral Home in Medina has a new owner who has been a steady presence at the site for the past dozen years.

Jacob Hebdon, 34, has worked as a funeral director alongside Tim Cooper since 2007. Cooper opened the funeral home at 215 West Center St. in 1987, when he was 26.

Cooper sold the business to Hebdon, with the deal closing on Dec. 27. The roles for the two have reversed with Cooper staying on as a funeral director and Hebdon’s employee.

Cooper said he wanted a reduced role. He also is confident the business is in good hands with Hebdon.

“We are lucky and Medina is lucky to have somebody with his talent and youthfulness who is staying in Medina and taking on the business,” Cooper said during an interview at the funeral home on Wednesday.

Hebdon has impressed Cooper over the years with his work ethic and commitment to the local families.

“He’s honest, he’s dedicated and he’s good with people,” Cooper said.

Jake Hebdon is shown on the second floor on the funeral home with a display of urns.

Hebdon was an architecture major at the University of Buffalo when he got a part-time job parking cars for a funeral home in Buffalo. That job led to a fascination and deep respect for the work at funeral homes. He switched his career path and graduated in 2006 from Simmons Institute of Funeral Service in Syracuse. He sent out letters to funeral homes in Western New York, seeking a job. Cooper gave him a call and the two have forged a strong working relationship.

“We’re a team,” Hebdon said. “We work in sync.”

Cooper appreciates the history of Medina and has a display of the hearse plates from the Gulinski, Thibault and Cleary funeral homes, which served the Medina community.

Hebdon grew up in the Batavia/Alexander area, and graduated from Alexander in 2003. He moved to Medina in 2007 and has been impressed with the community’s comeback, especially in the downtown area. He sees many people his own age running businesses and involved in pushing the community forward.

“I have lived here and been a funeral director in the Medina community since 2007 and have had the privilege of getting to know many families and to make personal bonds,” Hebdon said. “I am incredibly proud to call myself a part of such a vibrant and warm community. Medina is my home.”

When Cooper started the funeral home, there were four others in Medina. Now there are two. Cooper has a display at the funeral home, honoring the other sites that have since closed. The hearse plates for Gulinski, Thibault and Cleary funeral homes are prominently on display at Cooper.

Hebdon said Tim Cooper built a successful business, and has cared for a beautiful Medina Sandstone building, turning what was a doctor’s office with four apartments into the funeral home.

“I am excited and honored to continue the legacy that Tim has built here at Cooper Funeral Home,” Hebdon said. “I have learned a tremendous amount from him over the years and consider myself lucky to have had him as a mentor. I look forward to continuing the level of professionalism and compassion that we have had when caring for families in their time of need.”

Hebdon is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, Erie Niagara Funeral Directors Association and the Medina Business Association. The Cooper Funeral Home serves Orleans and eastern Niagara counties, and offers many funeral and cremation options.

“I am very privileged and honored to be able to do what I do for a living,” Hebdon said. “This is not just a job for me. It is what drives me, it is my passion, my life. I find great gratitude in what I do, knowing you can be the person for a family to lean on in their time of grief.”

Jake Hebdon and Tim Cooper are pictured in a gathering room. There are many Medina school yearbooks between them on the display case. C.H. Thomas M.D. used to have a doctor’s office at the site before it was a funeral home. The big picture behind Hebdon and Cooper shows some of Cooper’s family members when they operated a store on West Center Street in the late 1800s.

Hebdon and Cooper are both unusual in that they pursued being funeral directors even though the business wasn’t in their family. Cooper became interested in funeral homes while mowing the grass and doing yard work for a funeral home in Medina when he was a teen-ager.

Hebdon said his parents both have demonstrated a hard work ethic and commitment to caring for others. His mother Lori was a registered nurse in the maternity ward at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia and his father, Jodi, worked as a Genesee County Deputy Sheriff.

“They instilled in me a hard work ethic and sense of gratitude and fulfillment being able to help others,” Hebdon said. “Being the person for families to lean on during their time of grief, paying tribute to lives well lived, helping honor veterans who bravely served our nation, leaves me incredibly humbled and deeply honored.”

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