|Death: ||Apr. 20, 1954|
April 21, 1954
W.W. Chambers, Sr., colorful Washington undertaker who liked to be known as "a revolutionist" in the funeral industry, died yesterday at 5:27 p.m. in his Riverdale, Maryland home. He was 60.
Mr. William W. Chambers was born in Washington. He began his business in livery stable here 46 years ago. He advertised it with a frankness that horrified his critics and endeared him to many funeral directors who would have liked to do more of it themselves. He was a founder of the Advertising Funeral Directors of America.
One advertising cause celebre involved his use of an advertising calendar featuring a reproduction of a nude young woman, saying "Beautiful Bodies by Chambers."
When the Federal Trade Commission complained about his claim that he was "the largest undertaker in the world" in 1937, he cited 11 others who might be bigger and changed his ad to read "One of the largest..."
He was proud of his 8th grade education and proud of what he did for the funeral business thru this boldness. His father, William H. Chambers, age 48, Washington DC funeral director, died suddenly at Amiens, France, Dec 17, 1921. He was supervising embalmer of the War Department in France. He had charge of preparing the bodies of American soldiers in the Amiens district. He was stricken in a hotel with heart disease and died almost immediately. He is survived by his wife, Anna; son, W.W. Chambers Sr., and one daughter, Florence Chambers.
W.W. Chambers continued his father's business as W.W. Chambers Undertakers. He fought a bill to tax funerals here. He fought against higher wages for his funeral home attendants saying the women "don't do anything but watch bodies." He added that one "has read 500 books since she's been working for me."
He insisted that his son, W.W. Chambers Jr., be born in his combination residence and funeral home at 1400 Chapin Street NW instead of a hospital.
The business now includes four funeral homes and a flower company.
"He did not do much in the social and political activities of the community," his son said. "We had a lot of people to bury. But he was a charter member of the West River Yacht Club and he served i the first World War and the Front Line Post No. 101 of the VFW and American Legion.
Mr. Chambers had been ill since a cancer operation 10 months ago. He know of his condition and "it worried him quite a bit because of what he had seen,"' his son said.
"Being an honest man, he loved life pretty much and he didn't want to leave this world. But he faced his situation just like he faced other problems an he was cognizant this was a battle he would not win."
Mr. Chambers Sr. liked this quotation from Oliver Wendall Holmes, and he once told The News that in spite of his sometimes bizarre views on things, he took the quotation quite seriously: "I should so live that when I doe even the undertaker will be sorry." Washington Star, April 22, 1954.
April 27, 1954 - The Late W.W. Chambers, colorful Washington mortician, was entombed at Fort Lincoln Mausoleum yesterday amid elaborate rites conducted by the flourishing funeral firm he founded.
A 90-car procession went from the W.W. Chambers Co. Riverdale Branch to the mausoleum. An official of the company estimated the funeral's cost at $30,000, including the price of the crypt to which Mr. Chambers will be transferred later this year.
The casket was silver-plated wrought bronze with double inner seals. Nearly a score of East Coast and West Coast undertakers were among the 500 persons attending the rites.
The funeral was under the direction of Reinhardt K. Schoenfeldt, general supervisor of Chambers operations. Eight Chambers funeral directors served as active pallbearers under the supervision of M.R. Gemmill of the Riverdale branch.
Only two of the honorary pallbearers were not members of the profession. They were Leonard Bloch, Chambers attorney, and William M. Fithian, commodore of the West River Yacht Club, of which the deceased had been a charter member.
Seven others were operators of out-of-town funeral homes, delegated to attend the funeral; by the Association of Advertising Funeral Directors of American which Mr Chambers founded and once headed. They were Leo Gorney of Planfield, NJ; Carl J. Bolweg of Syracuse; Asher Proffit, Crawfordsville, Ind; Clarfence Birchey, Wheeley, W Va; W.T. Vancil of Springfield, Ill., and Edward Hoyne of Dayton, Ohio.
Prominent among the floral displays was a floral casket, about four feet long and a foot deep, fashioned of white and pink carnations and designed in the half-open position position familiar to reader of Chambers advertisements.
Streaming from it in gold letters on white net was " W. W. Chambers -- One of the Greatest Undertakers in the World." The casket itself was monogrammed "C" in pink carnations.
The piece was the work of the Chambers Flower Center which Mr. Chambers founded here several years ago and was the contribution of employees of the four homes the company operates in the Washington area.
Another floral display depicted a red and white clock about four feet in diameter. Centered in it was a smaller clock, its hands fixed at 5:27 p.m. -- the time of Mr Chamber's death last Wednesday in his home, 5803 Cleveland, Riverdale, at age of 60.
The last rites began with prayers in the Chambers chapel at 9:30 a.m. followed by a stop at St. Jerome's Catholic Church for a solemn high requiem mass at 10 a.m.
A detachment of Military District of Washington soldiers from Fort Lesley J. McNair fired three volleys as the mausoleum bell tolled and Msgr. Cowhig intoned the final admonition of the Catholic Prayers of the Dead: "Remember Man, that thou art dust, and unto dust they shalt return."
Annie Walberger Ruppert Chambers (1873 - 1960)
Fort Lincoln Cemetery
Prince George's County
Created by: Jim (Dr. Mo) Moshinskie,...
Record added: Nov 28, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31782375
A name well known in funeral service|
Added: Jan. 21, 2012
Added: Mar. 8, 2010