One hundred sixty-six years of continuous funeral service to the Village of Sewickley:
J.W. Marlatt and Sons, begun in 1839, is the original owner of the current funeral home now known as R.D. Copeland LTD- Irvine Chapel. Joseph Marlatt, a New Jersey cabinetmaker of French descent found his home in Sewickley in 1839. His trade of cabinet making encompassed the art of coffin construction on an at need basis. In 1848, as the need for coffins increased, Mr. Joseph Marlatt was presented the opportunity to buy Sewickley’s first school building (a log cabin built in 1818 and located on Division St. where Hoey’s Run crossed). That log cabin, he moved to Fife St. and became not a cabinet shop, but an undertaking establishment. Meanwhile, a new school was built on Crooked St. (now Broad and Centennial).
Also in 1839, Joseph’s son, James W. Marlatt was born. Raised in the family business, he worked at the funeral home and became a funeral director. Upon the death of his father, Joseph, in 1874, James took over as the owner and operator. In 1862, the old brick school building was purchased by James Marlatt and served as his funeral home and living quarters. This ex-school-undertaking parlor was torn down and a new and improved structure was erected on this same location of Broad and Centennial. Consequently, the new school was put at Broad and Thorn St. In 1893, James W. Marlatt died and was succeeded by his son, Walter Scott Marlatt, born in 1871.
For 61 years, J.W. Marlatt and Son was located at Broad and Centennial. Then, in 1923, J.W. Marlatt & Son was moved to its present location of Beaver and Logan. It inhabited the vacated Community Kitchen Building.
Walter Marlatt died at the age of 59 in 1930. He was well respected like his father and grandfather. He was considered a pillar of the commnity and was greatly mourned by his Village of Sewickley.
In the funeral law, a widow of a funeral director can obtain a widow’s license to run the funeral home and must have a licensed funeral director as her supervisor. Maria (Little) Marlatt, Walter’s widow, did just that. She obtained her widow’s license. The business continued and thrived from 1930-1945 with Mrs. Marlatt as president and Dallas S. Irvine as director.
In July of 1945, Dallas Steele “Hap” Irvine bought the business from Maria Marlatt. Mr. Irvine continued to improve the location with the Knotty Pine Office, casket selection room, small viewing room and large chapel. He died on Nov. 27, 1966.
During the early 1950’s, William H. Neuman was hired and became supervisor. Upon the death of Mr. Irvine, his widow, Barbara obtained her widow’s license having Bill Neuman stay on as supervisor. In the early 1970’s, a gradual sale of the funeral home was begun to Bill Neuman. He owned and operated Dallas S. Irvine Funeral Home until his death on Sept. 7, 1992.
From 1992 to 1998, Debra McCray owned the funeral home.
In May of 1998, an opportunity for purchase was presented to R.D. Copeland, a native of Sewickley. He had always wanted to own his own funeral home in the village of Sewickley. Mr. Copeland was born in Sewickley Hospital to the late R.D. Copeland Sr. and Goulding Taylor Copeland. He grew up at 625 Broad St. and graduated from Sewickley High School in 1939. Always industrious, he worked at Sloan’s Pharmacy during high school. Then in 1939, he was hired by J.S. Marlatt & Son Funeral Home to work while going to Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. He graduated from mortuary school in 1940. his apprenticeship was served at several different establishments- Irvine, Brandt and Ritchey Funeral Home. This was due to the break out of WWII and his service in the U.S. Navy. He became a licensed funeral director in 1946.
He currently has three locations – R.D. Copeland LTD in Coraopolis, purchased Holy Thursday of 1954, R.D. Copeland Inc. Funeral Home in Moon Township, purchased in 1969 and R.D. Copeland – Irvine Chapel in Sewickley, purchased in 1998.
This is a brief overview of the Sewickley History. Factual information was obtained from Sewickley Valley Historical Society and Sewickley Library. We want to thank them for their time and willingness to share their invaluable collection of reference materials without which we could not have completed this much history.