Sam Heydinger, who will co-own the business along with Jay and Sara Eastman, said he views the funeral home’s position in the community as an important one.
“(Times of death) are one of the most difficult times in people’s lives. It’s something that we take very seriously. This is really an honor and we want to do our best to help them through it as best we can, and we hold that responsibility dear to our hearts,” Heydinger said.
“It can have a huge impact on families. ... These are big life events. Working along side them and sometimes guiding and listening to them — that is very important. We try to take notice of any way we might be able to dignify the person and leave a lasting impression. We cherish those opportunities.”
Heydinger, along with his wife Rachel and their sons Mason, 8, and Tyler, 5, will move into the home beside Walker-Eastman-Heydinger Funeral Home in Norwalk.
The Eastmans have run the family-owned and -operated business for three generations, with its main location, Eastman Funeral Home, based in New London.
Heydinger joined the Eastmans about eight years ago. He graduated from mortuary school and became licensed in 2014 after discovering his passion while dating his now-wife, Rachel.
Heydinger’s line of work has served as an outlet for his love of helping and caring for others.
“My wife grew up in the industry, her folks being involved in it. It was something I always wanted to do, but it took me until later in life to come around to doing it,” he said.
“I do love what I do, as odd as that might sound. I just always felt a calling or a need to be doing something where I was helping people. When my wife and I started dating (I started looking into it) and I never looked back. There are a lot of tough times, but anytime I can help people, it makes it well worth it.”
The Eastmans and Heydinger own and operate three other funeral homes, Eastman Funeral Homes in New London and Greenwich and Norton-Eastman Funeral Home in Wellington. The former Walker Funeral Home owners, Ed and Roxanne, will continue to have an “integral part of the business” as well, Heydinger said.