McComas Funeral Home
If a visit to a funeral home can be soothing, Stephen Hughes makes it so. His quiet calm is comforting – even to someone not mourning. The melodic, steady timbre of his voice brings instant tranquility. One immediately knows he is capable and empathetic.
On the brink of retiring from McComas Funeral Home after 44 years, Hughes says he became a funeral director because he liked being around people, and he still feels the same way today. “Caring for people is part of my personality,” Hughes says. “I like helping people, and I know how to help them through a difficult situation.”
|McComas Funeral Home
1317 Cokesbury Road
Abingdon, MD 21009
50 West Broadway
Bel Air, MD 21014
Hughes started his career with McComas after meeting Howard McComas through his volunteer work at the Abingdon Fire Department. “They were a small family business and they were looking for an apprentice. I was able to work during the day and go to college at night,” Hughes says. He was a member of the first class at Catonsville Community College to graduate with a degree in Mortuary Science. That was 1977, and he became a licensed funeral director in Maryland and married his wife, Laureen, that same year. Since then, he has worked with four generations of McComas, and he has become like part of the family.
“Howard always treated me as a family member, including me in decisions and the direction of the business,” Hughes says. “Luckily I always liked change.”
Hughes has seen quite a bit of it over the last four decades, not the least being tremendous growth. The small family business that started by doing 50 funerals a year, now handles over 500 per year, and has eight full-time funeral directors and 49 part-time funeral assistants between two locations – Abingdon, with three rooms, and Bel Air with one.
Hughes says he has watched as the cycle of funeral customs has gone full-circle, from churches to funeral homes and back to churches. “Memorial services are popular because cremation is more common,” he says. McComas does offer cremation services at its Bel Air location. Hughes notes, “We keep the entire process on-site, so there’s no question about the identity of the body or the cremated remains.”
While Hughes says the traditional process of preparing and embalming bodies has remained the same over the years, the biggest physical change has been in cosmetics. “We use a special brand of cosmetics to make the deceased look natural. We have cosmetic lights at each end of the casket for a more realistic look,” he explains. “It’s beneficial for people to see their loved ones again after they have died. But they should look as natural as possible.”
Hughes was the first McComas employee to be a licensed director and embalmer. He became a manager shortly after joining the company and then moved to his current position of Director of Funeral Service Operations. He says he can be a resource for grieving families by providing information on psychologists and grief counselors. In addition, Hughes and the McComas Funeral Home have taken on the task of public education about drugs, supporting the fight against heroin.
“We are a close-knit group. I’m proud to be part of a business that is both successful and well-rooted in the community,” he says. “They are a service to the community but part of it also.”
Likewise, Hughes and his wife have been involved in the community with their own family. Together, they own Hughes Memorials, Inc., a source for bronze, granite and marble memorials and grave markers. They raised three children and were enthusiastically involved in coaching their sports teams and clubs. Now grown, the couple’s eldest son, Adam, is an advertising executive, daughter, Shelby, works for the Baltimore County Police in aviation, and youngest son, Ryan, is also a funeral director at McComas. Hughes is a member of several professional organizations, including the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association.
He says his retirement plans include spending time with his grandchildren, traveling, crabbing and fishing at his home on the Eastern Shore, and … working part time for the McComas Funeral Home. I95