Moved by the vision of its founders nearly two centuries ago, inspired by its growth and development, and motivated by the remarkable opportunities that lie ahead, I am honored to lead West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home and Laurel Hill Cemetery.
For me, this role not only weaves together my professional experiences and my personal interests, but also rouses my passion for the green, open spaces and the many unique assets that make Philadelphia and the region so special.
I was drawn to this position by the diverse collection of art, history, and horticulture in our cemeteries, and by our extraordinary ability to create memorable experiences in new, gratifying ways. But I was equally attracted by the opportunity to lead a team of caring professionals and insightful civic leaders who have positioned us as a model organization in an industry that continues to evolve.×
Thank you for stopping by the West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home website to learn more about us! My name is Clinton Bonelli and I serve as a Licensed Funeral Director at West Laurel Hill Funeral Home, having joined the wonderful staff here in May 2018. Like each of the directors here, I was not born into funeral service, but rather followed a calling to it.
I grew up in rural Sussex County, New Jersey, where my family owned a bagel shop and deli serving up authentic, New York-recipe bagels. Growing up and working in the family business, I wanted to make a living that made me feel autonomous, fulfilled, and one in which there would be dynamic and varied responsibilities, as opposed to having a desk job.I was also fascinated with my mother’s involvement as a volunteer for the local ambulance corps, and when I was in high school, I joined as soon as I could. That experience showed me the importance of having people in our society who are willing to do work that many others consider taboo or, at the very least, outside their comfort zones. By junior year of high school, I had applied and was accepted into the U.S. House of Representatives Page Program in Washington, D.C., where I served a school year running errands for members of Congress and learning first-hand how the government functions. It was there that I met one of my best friends, whose father was a funeral director. Upon returning home from the Page Program, I realized that the desire for professional autonomy and fulfillment that I saw in my parents’ lives and desired for myself, wedded with the experience I got as an ambulance volunteer and my exposure to the funeral industry through my friend, all contributed to feeling led to funeral service.
Like many teens, however, I went to college, achieving a Bachelor’s degree in an entirely unrelated field, and only answered the call to funeral service in my early thirties.At that point, I enrolled at the American Academy - McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York City, completing many of my courses through online correspondence so that I could gain valuable experience in the funeral industry while waiting to get licensed.I have since worked at Borthwick Mortuary in Honolulu, HI and Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery in Kaneohe, HI. For family reasons, I returned from Hawaii and gained more valuable experience at Whitemarsh Memorial Park in Prospectville, before apprenticing and then directing for Helweg & Rowland Funeral Home in Abington. All of these experiences prepared me for the unique environment of West Laurel Hill, and I couldn’t feel more blessed to be here.The historic and beautiful grounds inspire me daily, my colleagues here are family, and I feel such a sense of fulfillment in helping families from all faiths and backgrounds to achieve a sense of comfort after the death of a loved one.
Clinton resides in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia with his husband, Patrick, and their cat and two dogs. He is a nature and movie lover, as well as a member of the Titanic Historical Society and Mütter Museum. Additionally, he is an instructor of Thanatochemistry and Embalming Chemistry at the American Academy - McAllister Institute of Funeral Service, and is a member of Mu Sigma Alpha, a funeral services honor society.×
“In compassion and grace, be like the sun.” -------Rumi
During the past thirty years of my work life in customer service, I have had the pleasure of serving and resolving many scenarios for customers. However, my most rewarding experiences have been those in my role as a Family Service Representative. My own personal experiences of the loss of loved ones was so sweetly eased and comforted with genuine compassion by the professionals and representatives of various companies charged with the delicate business of life’s transition.
I have always been compelled to live compassionately and to work with the public in a way that I can offer some level of joy. In addition to a career in customer service, I am a Yoga and meditation teacher. Becoming a Family Service Representative at West Laurel Hill is beyond rewarding. Every day I am renewed by the professional and compassionate presentations of my colleagues and ultimately I am more resolute in my goal of giving superior service through compassion.×
I entered the doors of this remarkable company and found my passion. Perfecting how we help families is my purpose.
Creating a celebration to memorialize a family's special someone is one of the most gratifying experiences. The value in preparing and educating families about the importance of pre-arranging had never crossed my mind until I met with grief-stricken families and shared in their pain. What a worthy mission to teach families how to celebrate and also to spare others the burden of planning.
Exceptional is the word which describes our staff. There is nothing that gives me more satisfaction than when families convey how pleased they were with us because we exceeded their needs and expectations.
I will forever treasure the extraordinary feeling I experienced when my families invited me to become part of their family during profound sadness.×
Throughout my professional career, in any position I have ever had, there has always been one common element present which led me down a particular career path in the first place-being in a position where I could be of help and service to others. It is that crucial element which led me to West Laurel Hill.
For me, there is nothing more gratifying or fulfilling than knowing you have helped make a difference in the lives of those who may be grieving the loss of a loved one. The care, compassion and expertise that the staff and employees of this amazing company bring to bear-hether they are guiding families through moments of profound loss or assisting them far in advance to ensure that their wishes are carried out-is remarkable!
To be of service to another is both a great responsibility and a great privilege-and one that I take very seriously and for which I am most grateful. Albert Schweitzer once said, "The purpose of human life is to serve and show compassion and the will to help others." Being a part of the West Laurel Hill family helps me fulfill that purpose.×
When my beloved grandmother passed away and my mother and I made her funeral arrangements, I realized how important the role of a Family Service Representative is. The compassion and kindness we received that day and the days that followed made our grief easier to bear. I knew then my goal in life was to extend and share that same consideration to others in a most distressful time in their lives.
I find that compassion, coupled with professionalism and a genuine concern for the grieving, is what makes our organization so unique. Although I have been in the customer service industry for 30 years, no career has been as life-changing and rewarding as being able to help loved ones confront and deal with loss.×
Hard work, compassion for others, and dedication to family are attributes that drive my connections with others as well as my moral compass. My parents, first generation Jamaican emigres, instilled these values. Knowing the hardships of the old country, they leveraged opportunities in the United States to enhance their quality of life as well as to give me the best chance at success. "These traits were drilled into me from my earliest memories and are a constant guidance for my chosen profession and life journey."
Born in Brooklyn, NY, I lived there for ten years, after which my family moved to Mount Vernon, a small suburb just outside of New York City. I completed elementary and college preparation at Rye Country Day School in Rye, NY. At Temple University, I not only earned a B.B.A in finance, but met the love of my life, Samantha. We exchanged wedding vows in July 2012 and currently live in Upper Darby, PA.
So how did a finance major decide to pursue a career in Funeral Services, especially without any family members in this field? After Graduating from Temple in 2009, Andre had a chance conversation with his finance capstone professor, Robert Katz, who at the time was the interim president at West Laurel Hill Cemetery. The outcome: Andre accepted a part time position at R.R. Bringhurst Funeral Home. As a part time administrative and funeral assistant, Andre developed a deep appreciation and respect for the Funeral Services profession; so much so, he decided that Funeral Services was a calling he should answer. Mortuary School soon followed, and he graduated from American Academy McAllister Institute for Funeral Service in August 2014 with an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies.
Andre has been employed at Bringhurst Funeral Home for six years now and recently commenced his Funeral Director apprenticeship. Commenting on his experiences, "I have been fully exposed to this multi-faceted profession and am acquiring the knowledge, skills, and special arts to deliver competent and compassionate care during this fragile time of transition. From the guidance and support we provide to grieving families to the delicate care we provide to love ones who have passed, I receive a sense of satisfaction, completeness, and purpose that is unrivaled in many other professions."
As he moves forward with his career, Andre is set to preserve the commitment of high quality service to "families and their loved ones, in the Main Line and Philadelphia communities." He is dedicated to continuing the legacy of Bringhurst, setting the bar for what a Funeral Service professional should be:
- Dedicated to the responsibilities and Code of Ethics for Funeral Directors
- Compassionate with the families they serve and
- Ensures that the objectives of the families drive their actions with delivery above and beyond expectations.
Andre whole heartedly supports this responsibility and takes great pride and satisfaction from steering families through what can be the most difficult time in their lives. As famed grief coach Angie Cartwright says, "When we treat others with compassion we empower their souls."
This is Andre's goal and the reason he is dedicated to this profession.×
Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile - Wilfred Grenfell
I love working at West Laurel Hill Cemetery. I'm surrounded by history, nature, art and a wonderful group of co-workers who really care about what they do. To be in a position where I can truly help and ease another's pain is a privilege that I am grateful to have.
My previous experience and background has always been in serving others. Whether as a Customer Service Manager or as an Advertising Director assisting small local businesses or as a Manager of Member Services for our local chamber, my motivation has always been to help others. It is extremely satisfying to be in this position where I can make a real difference and help our families through a most difficult time.×
I was raised in a large family that instilled the values of hard work and service to the community. For more than 25 years, I had a successful career as a real estate appraiser, primarily owning my own company and briefly serving as the Vice President of a major bank in their Real Estate Appraisal division. During much of that time, I was a member of the "Chevra Kadisha," the Jewish burial society, a volunteer group which prepares the dead through a cleansing ritual. That work was a fulfilling and holy experience for me, and it fueled a growing interest in becoming a funeral director. I also studied chaplaincy and subsequently volunteered as a para-chaplin, visiting people who were homebound or near death. I experienced first-hand the importance of traditions surrounding death and dying, and learned how to be supportive to both the dying and the living during this significant and inevitable life event.
By 2009, I knew it was time to close my business and to pursue the calling to become a licensed funeral director. As a result, I then enrolled in the Funeral Services program at Mercer County Community College. I was fortunate to gain my mandatory experience credits by working part-time at Bringhurst Funeral Home. I will always remember the day I came for the interview. I was given the royal tour of West Laurel Hill Cemetery and the funeral home, and I immediately knew I wanted to work here. I was impressed by the beauty of the grounds and buildings, the well-equipped prep room, the state-of-the-art-crematory, and especially the diversity of staff and clientele. In particular, I have been so moved and inspired by serving people from so many faith traditions at Bringhurst.
I became a licensed funeral director in early 2013. I feel blessed to work with a creative and energized team that has been welcoming, that teaches me so much and, in turn, appreciates what I contribute. I find it exceptionally rewarding to be a part of an organization that serves families from many diverse cultures and faiths.
Patricia lives in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia with her life partner of 25 years and their two teenage children. She is a former treasurer of Congregation Mishkan Shalom, is a member of the Reconstructionist Chevra Kadisha, and is the Judge of Elections in the 13th District of the 9th Ward of Northwest Philadelphia.×
With my background in strategic communications and experience in PR, marketing and event planning for both non-profit and for-profit companies, I thoroughly enjoy creating awareness surrounding all the wonderful things West Laurel Hill has to offer, in addition to our primary mission of serving families.
We are much more than a cemetery and funeral home - from finding local organizations to partner with to give back to our community, planning a fundraiser, or getting our name in the press, it’s rewarding to see families come back time and time again to enjoy our beautifully historic grounds in a variety of ways.
We invite all to enjoy our public space. If you’re interested in using our facilities or grounds for a fundraiser, private tour, community event or wedding, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.×
Family Service Representatives & Funeral Directors
Mausoleum & Monument Specialist
Monument Installation Team
Capital Projects Manager