T he Gardner Funeral Home was established in 1932 by Edward C. Gardner, grandfather of Wendy L. Gardner. The funeral home was located at 511 N. Black Horse Pike in Runnemede for one year before property was purchased at 122 S. Black Horse Pike, also in Runnemede, where the funeral home remained until 1954 when the existing building today was built. In 1979 the funeral home underwent renovations and an addition giving the funeral home two viewing rooms. Major renovations were made to the building again in 1993, and a new merchandise showroom was implemented in 1994.
Second generation Edward C. Gardner, Jr. was active with the funeral home beginning in 1957 when he graduated from Eckels School of Mortuary College. Edward, Jr. was a partner with his father for a period of time and then took over ownership in 1978. Third generation David H. Gardner joined the funeral home in 1978 after finishing high school. David graduated from mortuary school in 1982, and worked in the business with his father and grandfather until his death on September 1, 1983. In January of 1984, Wendy L. Gardner became the second third generation family member to enter the funeral business when she started the Funeral Service Certificate Program at Mercer County Community College.
Edward C. Gardner died in August 1985.
Wendy obtained her funeral director's license in 1987. While working with her father in the business, Wendy met her husband Jim Tomasello. Jim's father, Robert Tomasello, owned the former Tomasello Funeral Home at 200 S. Black Horse Pike, Bellmawr. The Tomasello Funeral Home was established in 1961 and was purchased by Jim and Wendy in 1992.
After the sudden death of Edward C. Gardner, Jr. in October of 1992, Jim and Wendy took over the operations of the Gardner Funeral Home.
The Bellmawr facilities were then incorporated with the Gardner Funeral Home and are now referred to as the Gardner Funeral Home, Bellmawr and Gardner Funeral Home, Runnemede, respectively.
Jim and Wendy established the now familiar seahorse logo for the funeral home in 1998.
Wendy and Jim have continued the traditions of the funeral home, one being that Wendy's grandfather started making and giving out candied apple taffies. The tradition had stopped for awhile and now they have started giving them out again. They give the apple taffies to the Runnemede Borough Hall Halloween party, and they give them out at the funeral home.
The funeral home held Veteran's Day ceremonies in 2000 to help honor World War II veterans and to raise money for the World War II Memorial in Washington.
The staff had a good time giving out snow cones and popcorn at Runnemede's Fourth of July parade. They also gave out popcorn at the Christmas parade and will be participating in Runnemede's 75th Anniversary activities.
Wendy, Jim, and the other funeral directors of Gardner Funeral Home are all members of the National Funeral Director's Association, the New Jersey State Funeral Director's Association and the West Jersey Funeral Director's Association.