Seventy years ago on Oct. 1, 1948, Harold M. Zimmerman started Zimmerman Funeral Home on South Carlisle Street in Greencastle.

In 1981, son H. Martin "Marty" Zimmerman Jr. joined his father and the name of the business was changed to Harold M. Zimmerman and Son Funeral Home in 1988.

On July 2 of this year, Harold M. Zimmerman and Son Funeral Home became part of the Geisel family of funeral homes, which also includes sites in Chambersburg, Dry Run, Bedford, Pleasantville, Everett and Schellsburg.

Tommy Geisel of Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home Inc. is the fourth generation in the funeral business started in the Pleasantville garage of his great-grandfather Vernon Geisel in 1919.

He calls the new affiliation a "three-way merger," with himself as president; Jeremy Shoemaker, who has 10 years of experience, as vice president; and Marty Zimmerman as supervisor. Marcie Zimmerman, Marty's wife, will continue in her office manager/administrative role.

"Their family business is a good fit with my family business," Marty Zimmerman said, adding he has used Geisel's cremation services for 12 years.

His children did not have a calling to the funeral business and Marty Zimmerman said he wanted to have a successful succession plan.

Harold M. Zimmerman continued to help until a few years before his death in 2006 and two other licensed funeral directors have briefly worked at Harold M. Zimmerman and Son Funeral Home. However, for many years Marty Zimmerman has worked there alone. If he had health issues, there was previously no backup.

"Lo and behold, that's what happened," said Marty Zimmerman, who had to have surgery for a tear in his retina that put him on the sidelines for several weeks in August.

He added that he and Marcie "have not had a lot of time to get away and do things. This will allow us to do some traveling with the peace of mind the business will be taken care of."

Their itinerary includes Ashland, Ohio, where son Evan and his wife, Emily, live with daughter Fiona, 1 1/2. Son H. Martin "Marty" Zimmerman III lives in Greencastle and daughter, Hannah, who is married to David Woody, is in her last year at California University of Pennsylvania.

"We have to find out what we like to do," Marcie Zimmerman added.

"This business is more of a lifestyle than a job. I've heard people are happy for Marty and Marcie and say they deserve it," Geisel said.

Jean Zimmerman was by her husband's side when he started the funeral home seven decades ago and

Marty Zimmerman said his mother realizes changes have taken place in the funeral business and understands how stressful it can be.

"She sees it's good to have backup and help," Marty Zimmerman said. "She's glad the name is the same and I'm still going to be here.

"Dad and I were honored and privileged to serve Greencastle for 70 years. We have a good reputation and that's going to continue. I had the choice and I chose Tommy and Jeremy," said Marty Zimmerman, who was approached by others when word got out he was going to semi-retire.

"What's going to change? From our vantage point, nothing," said Geisel. "It's important the community knows we have no intent of changing anything in regards to what we feel already works well."

He said the Zimmermans have provided "a model of service people have come to know and respect and Marty and Marcie will still have a presence here on a day-to-day basis."

People who have prearrangements for their funeral have been notified of the merger and assured their wishes will be carried out as planned.