One of Indiana County’s oldest funeral homes is being purchased by another, effective today.
Robinson-Lytle Inc., 36 N. Seventh St., Indiana, will become the Robinson-Lytle-Shoemaker Funeral Home after its acquisition by Shoemaker Funeral Home Inc. of Blairsville.
The sale was confirmed by both Robinson-Lytle owner/supervisor Richard T. Wolfe Jr. and by the Blairsville funeral home’s supervisor, Richard L. Shoemaker.
“We always looked at Robinson-Lytle as the premier funeral home in Indiana County, for over 100 years,” Shoemaker said Tuesday evening. “We definitely want to keep the Robinson-Lytle name, we just want to add Shoemaker to it.”
Shoemaker said he already had filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State for a fictitious name for the new business, which would be a branch of the Blairsville operation.
“We’re very honored to be purchasing such a premier funeral home in the county,” Shoemaker said, hailing “the high level of service they’ve given to Indiana County.”
Wolfe confirmed the sale and said the business would change hands today, but declined further comment.
Shoemaker said he, his wife and their son made the purchase with the future in mind.
“I have a son who is a licensed funeral director,” Shoemaker said. “I have a daughter-in-law who is a licensed funeral director. They have four children.”
Shoemaker said he hoped Wolfe would stay around to help with the new Indiana operation.
“We’ve been friends for years,” he said.
Robinson-Lytle opened in 1891 as the Robinson Funeral Home in Saltsburg by James W. Robinson and his sons J. Arthur and Harold T. Robinson. J. Arthur Robinson then opened a second funeral home in Indiana in 1928, being joined later by nephew Ralph M. Lytle Jr. and great-nephew Ralph M. Lytle III.
Joseph Hunter later bought the Saltsburg funeral home from Harold Robinson, then in 1989 Hunter sold it to Gary Curran. The Saltsburg funeral home today is one of four Curran funeral homes in the Kiski Valley.
Wolfe became part of Robinson-Lytle in the 1970s, working there part-time while attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Wolfe worked as a funeral director in Pittsburgh for five years then returned to Robinson-Lytle in 1986.
In December 2000, Wolfe purchased Robinson-Lytle from Ralph M. Lytle III, who had retired after three decades in the business to a home in South Carolina.
Lytle told The Indiana Gazette at that time that Wolfe was “the next most logical choice” to whom to sell the business because he had no children and others in the extended Lytle family had no interest in taking over.
Robinson-Lytle has six viewing rooms that can seat as many as 200 people for a funeral or memorial service.
Shoemaker Funeral Home was Charles H. Hunter Funeral Home prior to 1951, when Richard K. and Dorothy J. Shoemaker purchased it, according to a description on Shoemaker’s Facebook page.
Two years later, Richard K. Shoemaker passed away at age 31. From 1953 to 1973, Dorothy J. Shoemaker, later Dorothy Savage, ran the Blairsville funeral home under a widow’s license.
In 1973 their son Richard L. Shoemaker took over ownership of the funeral home and since then he’s run it with his wife Willa E. Shoemaker.