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Funeral home director mourned in Bayside

Bayside was grieving last week as more than 100 people came together to mourn the death of longtime funeral director John “Jack” Possenriede at Sacred Heart Church Friday.

Possenriede, 57, a fourth-generation funeral director who owned Lloyd’s Funeral Home in Bayside and whose family established the Urban Funeral Home in Woodside in 1895, died suddenly March 30 of a heart attack.

As the pews of Sacred Heart Church on 38th Avenue in Bayside were filled with Possenriede’s family, friends, community members, and civic leaders, so was the church dais with 11 clergy members from throughout Bayside participating in the mass. Civic leader Mandingo Tshaka also sang during the service.

Monsignor Thomas Donovan of Sacred Heart, who led the mass, praised Possenriede as an unselfish individual and asked the congregation to applaud the well-known community figure.

“We ask, dare I say demand, that the rewards promised the good and the kind and the caring be given to Jack,” Donovan said. “He served as a model to use our lives in the service of others — not to be greedy, not to be selfish.”

Possenriede first entered the funeral home business at age 19, when he took over the Urban Funeral Home in 1964. In 1972 he expanded his business by purchasing Lloyd’s in Bayside and became the third and longest owner of the 39th Avenue funeral home.

Neighborhood residents, area clergy and Possenriede’s employees all said he approached the funeral home business as a way to celebrate life and care for people in their time of need.

One of his employees from Lloyd’s, Mark Mongelluzzo, elicited applause with a loving eulogy to his boss of more than 12 years.

Mongelluzzo recalled an encounter he had with Possenriede as a teenager, during which the two discussed where Mongelluzzo might attend college. The next day, Mongelluzzo said, Possenriede gave him a business organizer.

“He told me that if he had a son about to go to college, he’d want him to have this,” Mongelluzzo said. “It was the first time I had met someone outside of my immediate family who cared about my future as much as my family did.

“On that day Jack opened the door to my heart, stepped in and never departed,” Mongelluzzo said. “We are better people for having been witness to his life.”

Possenriede grew up in Kew Gardens Hills and lived in Manhasset, L.I. but spent most of his time at Lloyd’s in Bayside, colleagues said.

Possenriede was also respected by colleagues in the funeral home business. During his career he was head of the Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association and the State Funeral Home Directors Association.

Possenriede is survived by his wife Donna, his daughter Emma, a sister, Barbara Schwab of Long Island, his brother-in-law Robert, a niece Heather and nephews Craig and Robert.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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