giving the history of our firm,
it seems appropriate that I should
first describe previous
undertaking firms in the area that we now
- Richard V. Bibber, C.F.S.P., President
first undertaker was Samuel Lewis, a cabinet, maker who made
coffins with glass tops from 1801, until his death. In 1857, he
made 2,500 coffins, including his own.
next funeral home in Kennebunkport, was run by a gentleman, named
Oliver Huff. Huff owned the local butcher shop, so naturally he
had a team of horses and a good rugged wagon, equipment necessary
for an undertaker. Huff made his own coffins and boxes. His place
of business was on West Street. As most deaths occurred at home, I
am sure that he would get his team, load up the wagon with the box
that he had made, travel to the place of death, and then on to the
cemetery at the Town House.
have two Statements of Death from Oliver Huff. One, dated April
12, 1858, itemizes one coffin $2.75, box $1.00, robe $.50,
services $1.00, and a name plate $1.00, for a grand total of
$6.25. The other statement, dated November 30, 1866, lists one
coffin $3.50, silver mounted name plate $.50, box $1.25,
transportation $.50, services $2.00 and robe $.65, for a grand
total of $8.40. As you can see itemization was in effect over 150
next establishment that I could find out about that conducted
Kennebunkport funerals was run by a Mr. B.E. Goss. His principal
business was in York, but he had a branch in Kennebunk Lower
Village. I believe his building now houses the Kennebunk's Chamber
of Commerce. After receiving a call, it was necessary for him to
cross the river to Kennebunkport to rent a team of horses for his
Kennebunkport from the early 1900s into the 1920s, coffins and
mourners were transported on the electric car Line to the Arundel
Cemetery at the Town House. The fact that the trolley ran along
side of the cemetery and that the car barn was directly across the
street from the cemetery, made it convenient for the deceased and
the mourners alike to travel to the cemetery by trolley car.
Kennebunk undertakers had the use of a town-owned hearse. The
Kennebunk Hearse Barn was erected behind the Unitarian Church next
to Hope Cemetery, and to this day is still at that location.
funeral homes, that I can recall or find out about, were the Lucas
Funeral Home located behind the Baptist Church on Main Street at
the Blue Wave Mall and the Hurd Funeral Home located on Dane
Street. Paul Hurd ran the business which had another funeral home
on Winter Street in Sanford. Another firm in Kennebunk, the Evans
and Wakefield Funeral Home, was located at the junction of Storer
and Fletcher Streets. I believe this firm was closed in the late
1940, the Hurd Firm was sold to the Dennett & Craig Firm in
Saco. The manager, Leonard Angell, bought the firm and changed the
name to Angell Funeral Home in the 1950's. Mr. Angell eventually
sold his interest in the firm to his son David. In 1976, the
Bibbers bought the Angell business, consolidating the firm to the
Summer Street location of Bibber Memorial Chapel.
firm in Wells is the first funeral home, in decades, to operate in
that town, as the community was served very capably by firms in
Kennebunk, North Berwick, and York. There was a funeral home in
Wells for a brief time. It was located on Route One in a building
that is now The Seagull Hotel and Motel. Another firm, in the mid
1960s, never was licensed as a funeral home. This firm was on the
Sanford Road where the Kennebunk Savings Bank now stands.
Memorial Chapel at Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and Wells was founded
by my father, Earl V. Bibber. Earl completed his apprenticeship
program at the Hay and Peabody Funeral Home in Portland, ME. He
was a graduate at Portland's Deering High School and completed his
formal education at the MacAllister School of Embalming in New
York City in March 1938 that same year he was married to Phyllis
young, energetic and eager to get started in building a business,
Earl and Phyllis looked at several locations on the coast of Maine
among them, Camden and Kennebunkport. The decision was reached to
settle in Kennebunkport as this was a bit nearer to Boston,
Portland, and Nashua, NH where they both had family ties.
Kennebunkport was a small community, 90 miles north of Boston and
half—way between Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME.
Bibber's first home was located on Maine Street, and was rented
from a family named Blacklock. This home, I am told, was cold,
very hard to heat, and not really suitable for a funeral home, but
it was the location of their funeral and ambulance business until
the spring of 1939 when they moved across the street to the corner
of Elm and Maine Streets. The Kennebunkport Bibber Funeral Home
was and still is at that location. It is inspected regularly, and
service rooms are maintained although they are used only
sporadically for visitations and small services
September 1939, a son, Richard V. Bibber, was born to the young
couple. Must have been cold nights at the Blacklock House! In
1946, a daughter, Martha Ann, was born to the Bibbers. She
currently resides in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Paul Schmidt;
daughter, Sara and son, Brian.
those days almost all funeral homes operated the ambulance in
their community. The first of our vehicles, that I can recall, was
a side-loading Limousine which was used as the ambulance and for
removals. This was supplemented by a family car if needed. Up
until we purchased our first vehicle, I believe we rented what we
needed from the Sancoucy firm in Biddeford and from the Shumway
Firm in Saco. Sancoucy's had a Super Coach, a Henry Packard with
running boards and spare tires on each, side; truly a sharp coach.
first combination car was a 1948 Cadillac Combination Unit. Wow!
What a car! I was not old enough to have a driver’s license, but
with only one police officer in town whose schedule I knew pretty
well, I would take that super machine down to the local garage for
gas, to check the tires, or whatever, about two times a week. I
had to sit on a pillow to see out, but no problem.
casket display area was the same area we used for visitations and
funerals, so that following the casket selection, out the caskets
would go to the garage. We had to carry them all back in following
the service. What a task! But, as a fella says, "Gotta do
what ya gotta do."
business grew beyond our facilities in Kennebunkport, and in
November 1956 the property at 67 Summer Street in Kennebunk was
purchased. The first visitation at the facility was for Phyllis M.
Bibber. She had been terminally ill during the time of purchase
and remolding of the new facility, but saw it completed before her
building at 67 Summer Street, a large Victorian house 126 years
old. It is located in Kennebunk's Historical District which was
named a National Register Historic District in 1974. In December
1957, Earl remarried, to Eleanor (Ruth) Brann of Augusta, who
served as Secretary/Treasurer at Bibber Funeral Home for over 25
years and still remains active in the firm.
graduated from Kennebunk high School in 1957 and in 1959, from New
England Institute of Anatomy and Sanitary Science in Boston, MA in
1959. In 1961, I married Joanne Larson and during this marriage
had two sons Edward Vaughan born in 1962 and Douglas Richard born
in 1965. Then, in 1976, married Patricia Turgeon who is active
within the family firm.
1975, the Bibbers built new offices, new selection rooms and a new
state of the art Preparation Room. In 1976, the Bibber Memorial
Chapel purchased the Angell Funeral Home business and merged that
business into the Summer Street location. In 1979, Bibbers donated
its ambulance and all its related equipment to the town of
Kennebunkport thus ending a span of 40 years of ambulance service
to the Kennebunks and surrounding communities. Kennebunkport is
now served by Kennebunkport Emergency Medical Services (KEMS).
the Fall of 1984, my son Edward joined the firm as a licensed
Funeral Director and Embalmer, a great feat as Edward is deaf.
Overcoming that handicap, he became the states first deaf licensed
Funeral Practitioner. Ed graduated from Kennebunk High School in
1981, and completed his studies at New England Institute in 1984.
second son, Douglas, graduated from Kennebunk High in 1983, and
from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH in 1987. He then went
on to NEI in Boston receiving his Mortuary Science Degree in 1988,
at which time he joined the family firm.
1986 ground was broken for a new funeral home in Wells. This
building, erected to meet the needs of the community, opened in
November of 1987 after several years in the planning stage.
March of 1987 Earl V. Bibber died leaving behind not only a second
generation, but a third generation of Funeral Directors to meet
the needs of our communities.
Bibber Firm is a member of the Maine Funeral Directors Association
with the late Earl V. Bibber, Richard V. Bibber, Edward V. Bibber
and Douglas R. Bibber all being past
presidents. The firm is also a member of the National Funeral
Directors Association. For over 50 years, Bibber's has been a
member of the Associated Funeral Directors Association and of the
Selected Independent Funeral Homes (SIFH) of which Richard
is a current board member. The firm updated to the computer age
in 1987 by installing a state of the art computer system, thus
enabling us to track pre—arrangements, active accounts, and
former accounts within seconds.
current officers of the firm are Richard V. Bibber, President;
Edward V. Bibber, Vice-President; and Patricia A. Bibber, Secretary/Treasurer.