Finding Good in the Sad

Local funeral director Dan Delmore shares his interest in the human condition.

There’s a file in Dan Delmore’s desk loaded with thank you notes. The letters from grateful families thanking Delmore take up a fair share of his file cabinet, reinforcing Delmore’s perspective that running Gearty-Delmore Funeral Chapel is really about the people.

Delmore has been interested in the business since sixth grade. Watching his father pursue a career as a funeral director impressed him, and he decided to study mortuary science at the University of Minnesota. While still a student, Delmore’s father purchased Gearty-Delmore as a place for his son to later run, blocks from the family home sold to pay for it. Delmore has been running Gearty-Delmore since he took over for his father 30 years ago.

“Part of my legacy was that they went out on a limb to buy it,” Delmore says. When his parents sold the house, it was another reminder of the sacrifices that had to be made in the business. Being a funeral director is a time-intensive task requiring commitment and appreciation of long, irregular hours, according to Delmore. Death doesn’t discern between holidays, nights and weekends.

“You have to be interested in people and the human condition,” says Delmore. “You see things that are really uplifting and exactly the opposite.”

Delmore shares those insights with mortuary sciences students from his alma mater. The specialized profession requires a mix of business management and people skills, according to Delmore. His first piece of advice? Don’t get into the business if you’re a clock-watcher, and take care in conversations with grieving families.

“He has a wonderful reputation in the business among the business community and students and professors at the U,” longtime employee Bill Bevan says. Bevan began driving hearses for Gearty-Delmore in 2011. Since then, he’s had a front-row seat to how Delmore operates his business.

“He’s extremely fair to all of his employees and has good quality people working there,” says Bevan. “People just like working for him.”

The job can be relentless with unpredictability and family drama, but Delmore’s found the good in it. Whether coming from grateful families or donating services to families in need, he’s inspired by the uplifting aspects of the line of work.

Long proud of his St. Louis Park roots, Delmore recalls walking past the neighboring Miracle Mile when his first grade opened their first bank accounts with a quarter at Citizens Bank. The Park and extended community has embraced Delmore as well: Robbinsdale, Plymouth and St. Louis Park locations of Gearty-Delmore have all been thriving.

For someone with a job that might tread in morbid waters, Delmore has a balance between his upbeat nature and sensitivity toward clients. He’s found a lot of happy in the sad.

“Five years later I’ll have families call me and say, ‘If it wasn’t for you, we couldn’t have gotten through the death,’” says Delmore. “Funeral home directors have a good outlook on life because they realize what’s important and what isn’t.”