One of Albuquerque’s largest and oldest funeral homes, French Funerals & Cremations, has been sold, the company announced Thursday. Longtime owners Robert Stewart and Chester “Chet” French Stewart retired at the end of December, passing the business onto company executives and longtime employees Tom Antram and Alice Brousseau.
Founded in 1907 by Chet Stewart’s grandfather, Chester French, Chet Stewart served as the CEO for 41 years. Antram, born and raised in New Mexico, became president and CEO in 2010.
Brousseau, now an owner, is the vice president and CFO at French Funerals & Cremations.
In a statement, Chet Stewart said that keeping the company locally owned was always the goal.
Antram started working at the company in 1993, after answering an ad in UNM newspaper the Daily Lobo. Although he was studying journalism, hoping to become a sportscaster, free housing above the funeral home — Antram had to answer the phones in exchange — was appealing.
“I’ve literally done just about every job in the company – short of digging graves at the cemetery,” Antram said.
When Chet Stewart approached him and asked if he had considered funeral services as a career, Antram decided to change career paths, completing an internship at French Funerals and attending mortuary school in Dallas.
“Once I discovered how things were done in the funeral business … I knew that this was my calling,” Antram said.