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General Information: Howard Leslie Hallett, Sr. (b.1889)
Parents: Charles Wesley Hallett, Jr. (b.1858) and Ida Bowen Crowninshield (b.1862)
Born: 14 March 1889
Died: d. 29 Oct 1949 – Buried in Flushing Cemetery, NY
My grandfather, Howard L. Hallett, Sr., is best known and remembered as a Funeral Director in Astoria and proprietor of Howard L. Hallett, Inc. and The Hallett Homestead Funeral Home on 147th Street and Northern Boulevard in Flushing, New York. He passed away well before I was born, but the stories of his life were of course fascinating to me.
Howard L. Hallett, Sr. shown in this photo as President of the Rotary Club of Queens Borough, 1940-1941
By all measures he was quite successful in the Funeral business, having apprenticed under his Uncle, Frederick T. Hallett (b.1863) in Astoria in the business originally founded by his grandfather, Charles Wesley Hallett, Sr. (b.1831). He eventually bought and combined the Astoria business with his cousin Elbert Hallett's Funeral business in Flushing in 1925. My father described my grandfather as very charismatic and always immaculately dressed, quite active in local organizations, and as someone who made a lot of money and spent it lavishly, even through the Great Depression.
He was far from unflawed, however – the later years of his marriage were unhappy and he died young, at 60, of what was likely uncontrolled hypertension and atherosclerosis, neither of which was helped by what was likely significant alcohol use. Nevertheless, paraphrasing the words of a family friend related to my father at my grandfather's funeral, "He passed away at 60, but in those 60, he lived 300."
1. Mary E Wingert Hallett (b.1887) b. 2 Jun 1887 d. 30 Sep 1954 m. 24 Jan 1911 at The Church of Transfiguration, 1 E 29th Street, NY, NY
Click to View their Marriage Certificate
Mary E. Wingert Hallett, c.1942
1. Howard Leslie Hallett, Jr. b. 22 Sep 1911 d. 1 Oct 1980
2. Dorothy Hallett Schwabe (1916) b. 26 Dec 1916; d. 20 Nov 2005; m. William F. Schwabe
Dorothy Hallett Schwabe with daughter Nancy, Mother Mary E, and grandmother Elsie Wingert, c.1936
My Aunt Dorothy was one of a kind. Smart as a whip and sharp tongued when she needed to be, she was dynamic and funny, and I loved her very much. My Dad (Donald Hallett, Sr.), 8 years her junior, was, in her words, "incorrigible". She related many, many stories of the mischief he would get in as child, and I could only imagine the grief he caused her as a pre-teen to her 18 or 19 year old self. Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill had a pickle factory in Long Island City (Hamilton Pickles) with Uncle Bill's brother Carl and his wife Marion, and we would visit at times. Later in life Aunt Dot worked in the funeral home with my Dad, and I got to see more of her. We all came to know that she famously hated mums, a common flower in funeral pieces. At her funeral, my Dad, ever incorrigible, was the last to walk past her grave. I watched unseen from a distance as he, with a boyish smirk and thinking no one was looking, threw a mum down and said, "Gotcha!". A few years later when my Dad passed away and we went to the cemetery, I quietly hung back and when no one was looking, threw a mum at his grave and said, "That's for Aunt Dorothy."
Donald Hallett and Dorothy Hallett Schwabe, 1953.
3. Donald Hallett, Sr. (b. 1924) b. 10 Mar 1924 d. 5 August 2009
1926 Daily Star Article on the 72nd Anniversary of the Hallett Funeral Home in Astoria, NY –
Howard L. Hallett, Sr., Licensed Funeral Director. Click the image to view the article.
1954 Long Island Star article on the Centennial of the Hallett Funeral Business.
Pictured: Howard L. Hallett, Jr. and C Wesley Hallett, III., holding the Hallett Coat of Arms.
Primary Source Documents:
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