By Kerry Close
Long Branch–It was his close relationship with his grandfather that prompted West Long Branch resident William Boglioli to enter what he calls the "nonstop" business of owning a funeral home.
When his grandfather passed away in 1977, Boglioli, then 17, attended services for him at Woolley Funeral Home in Long Branch. He was impressed by the compassionate way in which the home's manager, Bruce Woolley, treated his family.
"He handled everything for us," Boglioli said. "He was a real good guy, decent and caring."
During the wake, which took place in mid-February, Boglioli helped Woolley hang mourner's coats. After the service, Woolley offered Boglioli a job at the funeral home.
"I've never worked anywhere else since," Boglioli said. "This is all I know."
Boglioli attended Monmouth University for two years, studying psychology before dropping out to attend the American Academy of McAllister Institute of Funeral Services in New York City.
"I was worried about getting a job after school," Boglioli said. "I always worked (at Woolley Funeral Home) while I was in school. When (Woolley) said, "I can't wait until you get out of school so we can have you here full time," I breathed a sigh of relief.
Boglioli married Woolley's cousin, Denise Jackson, in 1984. The couple has two sons, Chris, 23, and Scott, 18. "The whole family has always helped out with the business," Boglioli said.
When Woolley passed away in 2009, Boglioli assumed the manager position, running the funeral home with the help of his wife and a few part-time employees.
"The biggest challenge is doing it without (Woolley)," Boglioli said. "He had a keen sense for the business. He was a role model."
Inspired by Woolley's example, Boglioli said he strives to do the best he can to aid families through difficult times of loss.
"There's a lot of people competing for my attention," Boglioli said. "The trick is not to let anyone know that. Families need me, and I have to remain focused, disciplined and respectful."
It is a task that is nothing short of demanding, Boglioli said. "I'm on call 24/7," he said. "I sometimes get calls at 2 or 3 in the morning, or on holidays. It's my responsibility to always be there for the families that need us."
But the best part of the job, Boglioli said, is the "personal gratification" he feels when a family thanks him for his work.
"Whether it's a letter, call, hug or handshake; to me, that's everything," Boglioli said. "That's a great way to live life."
In October 2011, Boglioli purchased Woolley Funeral Home–which, on Friday, was officially renamed the Woolley-Boglioli Funeral Home.
"People have known that I own the home," Boglioli said. "But it's nice to make it official."
Under Boglioli, the home–which has been in business at its location since 1882–has undergone renovations, including the remodeling of its casket display room.
"Now, people have the complete ability to see their choices (of caskets)," Boglioli said. "It's easier for them to see what's available."
The funeral home has also started to offer new burial alternatives--including Jewish caskets, which cannot contain metal, and urns for the ashes of deceased pets.
"These little things that are important to people are important to me," Boglioli said. "It's how I'd want to be treated."
Boglioli is also "tech-savvy", according to Lisa Kanda, founder of the Long Branch-based company Elkay Corporate Advisors, who helps Boglioli with marketing strategies for his business.
One of Boglioli's ideas is to allow family and friends who cannot attend services in person at the funeral home to view them online, using a personalized username and password.
"He's upgrading the business to make something that was once traditional and conservative up to speed with the 21st century," Kanda said. "He's modernizing it."
Regardless of the improvements made to the funeral home, Boglioli said he remains focused on his customers.
"The families come first," he said. "It's a tough time, and my main priority is to do the best I can by them."
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