Fortune-Keough Funeral Home Address: 20 Church Street

Old Address: 40 Church Street

Other names: Fortune and Son Funeral Home, Keough Funeral Home

Year built:

The Fortune-Keough Funeral Home began as A. Fortune & Company, established in 1892 by Antoine Fortune, as a furniture and decorating supply store originally located at 65 Broadway. As the cabinet makers employed in the furniture business had the necessary skills, they were called upon to build caskets. In time, a mortuary business arose from the casket building business. In 1991, they merged with the Keough and Son Funeral Home.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 5, 1991

SL funeral homes to merge on Monday


Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE — Following close to a century of operating independently, Saranac Lake's two funeral homes will officially merge Monday to form the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, Inc.

Changing trends in the funeral home industry have led members of both firms to believe that the future needs of the Keough and Son Funeral Home and the Fortune Funeral Home would best be met by joining. The merge has been under consideration for some time, according to a joint statement released by the firms today.

"We look forward to providing continued, quality, professional, personalized service, as a team of dedicated professionals serving you in a facility designed to meet your needs of the future," the statement read.

Full-time daily service will now be provided by Andrew J. Fortune, Jr., Brendan J. Keough, and Michael K. Ryan. The day-to-day support service, along with the daily staff, will be given by Ronald B. Keough and Andrew J. Fortune, Sr.

Ronald Keough will be responsible for the firm's pre-need planning service. He and Andrew J. Fortune Jr. will also provide monument service.

Funeral facilities for the joint operation will be located at 40 Church Street, where the Fortune Funeral Home is currently located.

The funeral home directors decided that the current Keough and Son facility at 20 St. Bernard Street would be more easily adapted into another business or professional space and could be leased out. Plans to expand the 40 Church St. facility are set as a new chapel is expected to be finished by the end of the summer.

The Fortune-Keough Funeral Home can be reached by calling either of the current funeral home phone numbers, 891-3613 or 891-2414.

The support groups presently sponsored by the funeral homes — Bereaved Parents and Lift — will continue under the merger.

Any pre-need plans that have been previously selected at either of the firms will remain unchanged and valid under the joint venture.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 3, 1988

Fortune Funeral Home: Continuing a family tradition

SARANAC LAKE At one time or another, everyone is faced with the loss of a loved one. It is a time of grief and sorrow, and can prove quite difficult for family members to cope with.

Often the funeral director must help the family through their troubling time, and that can be difficult as well. There must be a genuine concern in order for the families to adjust to their loss and come through the death with a positive outlook and healthy memories of time well spent with the deceased.

At Fortune Funeral Home, the staff believes in providing personalized care to the people they serve. As Andrew Fortune Jr. said. “We try to help people cope with their loss; not just serve as a functionary.

“We take a personal interest in the successful completion of the grief process.”

Attesting to their commitment to funeral service are the many years the Fortune family has devoted to caring for the needs of area families. Andrew Fortune Sr. said that even before the incorporation of A. Fortune in 1892, there had always been a Fortune serving as a funeral director in the village.

To put it in perspective, the firm's founder, Antoine Fortune, was in charge of the interment of John Brown's body at his North Elba farm on August 30, 1899.

The Fortune family continues to serve the community with the kind of sensitivity, experience and expertise that has won them the public's trust since the beginning.

Antoine Fortune passed the firm on to James Fortune, who turned it over to Andrew Fortune Sr in 1936. Although still active in the profession, he passed management along to his son Andrew in 1970.

Since then, the firm has continued to grow to meet the needs of the community.

“We employ expensive Life Appreciation techniques in order to develop a service that reflects the life of the deceased as well as address the needs of the families we serve.” Andy Jr. said. This focus, he says, has been well received and very helpful to families going through the period of mourning. Andy Fortune knows how to help people through a period of grief. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in mortuary science — the first person in New York State to receive the still uncommon degree.

Besides courses in biology, chemistry and the other sciences, the program at Minnesota was unique because of its heavy concentration on the psychology of coping with death.

“The teachers in that program were some of the pioneers in the techniques of grief counseling and death and dying,” he explained. It was this training that set Andy on his present course of focusing not only on the actual arrangements for the funeral but on helping people get through the ordeal.

“I try to help families actively work through their sorrow,” he explained.

The Fortunes have established a library of over 350 books on the subject of death and dying, giving the public a resource center to learn about the grief process. They also have an audio-video lending library that provides yet another opportunity to try and understand the process of dealing with the loss that accompanies death.

Andy also has been called on to give lectures and stage seminars all over the area that deal with this sensitive topic. “We've changed with the times and are proud to be at the forefront of the industry,” he said. Andy feels it is the human, personal touch provided by himself, his father and Michael Ryan, the firm's third funeral director, that sets them apart.

“Our focus is on the families for whom we provide these important services. We don't stand on ceremony. We are flexible “ in meeting each family's individual needs,” Andy said.

At Fortune Funeral Home the focus is not merely to prepare the deceased for burial, but more importantly to facilitate the survivors' reintegration into society.

To Andy Fortune it is not a job that he does, but a service he performs. That is a key distinction for him, because, as he said, jobs tend to get tedious. Helping people does not.

His father emphasized this point. “I've been here for 52 years, and I'd walk out tomorrow if I thought this was a job and not a service.”

Andy summed it up when he said that Fortune Funeral Home has “a huge responsibility and a sacred trust."

As Andy Sr. said, “People have relied on us for the past 95 years, and we shall be here to serve our community for many years to come.”

Saranac Lake Adult Center newsletter, July 2013

Random Thoughts, Generation 2

by Ron Keough

. . . Bill [Madden] was very faithful to visiting the funeral homes in the Tri Lakes when someone died. . . As a part of the Keough family, providing funeral service to the area, I started at just past eight years old. At that time most of the wakes were in the home. That meant that before the deceased was brought home for what was often a three day wake, all the equipment and chairs had to be brought to the home where the wake was to be. In my early years, I went with funeral home staff, Jerry Primeau, Ray La Rose, Joe Maroun and my Dad, to arrange the house and set up the equipment. Velvet back [sic: black?] drapes, candles, kneeler, folding chairs, etc. Later, Dad began to call Madden's to do this with one of us from the funeral home to coordinate with the family. So the Madden family, and their staff really interacted with each family. When they were finished they were offered some thing to eat and something to drink. Whoever went from the funeral home was given a pocketful of silver dollars. Beyond paying Madden's for their services we gave each Madden employee a silver dollar. Dad gained the name of the "Silver Dollar Kid." If the times matched up the Madden's team, helped us bring the deceased into the home. The day of the funeral it was reversed except that the pall bearers carried the deceased from the house to the hearse. Then Maddens packed up all the equipment, left the chairs, and returned the equipment to our funeral home. One other part they played was when we provided the rescue and ambulance service for the community. There were times when my Dad was on a funeral, and the call came for the ambulance. I was sent back to meet the Madden's driver, who drove the ambulance and I attended the patient. So while there are many things Bill and the Madden family and staff did in terms of the community, they were also intimately involved with families in a time gone by. . . .


Comments:  During TB times, there was a rather morbid saying, "A Fortune awaits you in Saranac Lake."