Dolby owners buy Westbrook funeral home

142
Eric and Kristin Segee, who own Dolby Funeral Chapels in Windham and Gorham, have purchased Blais and Hay Funeral Home in Westbrook.

WESTBROOK — The decades-old Blais and Hay Funeral Home is now under new ownership and will soon have a new name.

Windham residents Eric and Kristin Segee, who also own the Dolby Funeral Chapels of Windham and Gorham, have purchased Blais and Hay at 35 Church St. They plan to rebrand all of the funeral homes as Dolby, Blais and Segee.

The Segees, who closed on the sale of the business Aug. 30, said they’re glad the opportunity arose to grow their business in Westbrook.

“Geographically it fit well because we already owned the ones in Gorham and Windham,” Eric Segee said. “The opportunity to expand the business worked well.”

Hay Funeral Home was established in Westbrook in 1903 by Harry Hay, and Blais Funeral Home was established on Church Street in 1953 by Robert and Claire Blais. Rocheleau Funeral Home had occupied the Church Street location since the 1940s. In 2001, Robert Blais III and James Blais purchased the funeral home from their parents and in 2002 they acquired Hay Funeral Home. All operations were consolidated to the Church Street location.

Robert Blais III retired in 2013, making James Blais the sole operator. On Monday James Blais said his son and nephew had been expected to take over the business, but that they chose to pursue other professions.

“I felt like the timing was right,” Blais said. “Eric and Kristin had approached me and with the boys not wanting to continue it felt like it was time.”

Blais said he also felt it was personally time for him to go in a new direction.

“Dealing with people who are in grief takes its toll and with the schedule being 24/7 it was a lot,” he said. “I’m going to miss it, but it felt like time to step away.”

Blais and his wife Marcy will stay involved with the funeral home, with James assisting with funerals sometimes and Marcy doing administrative work. The couple already had experience working with the Segees as they would often fill in at each other’s funeral homes as needed.

“I think Eric and Kristin are great people and I felt comfortable selling to them,” Blais said.

The Segees said they’re glad Blais has trusted them to take over the funeral home.

“We’re very honored to take over the legacies of the families because they’ve been cornerstones of the community,” Kristin Segee said. “It was a great honor for us to join the community, but we don’t want the community to feel like they’re losing anything.”

Aside from the name change, the Segees said they don’t plan to change much with the funeral home. The exterior is being repainted, landscaping is being redone, the floors and lighting inside are being replaced, and a new audio visual system is being installed.

The funeral home has eight full-time staff members and 14 part-time staff. Between the three funeral homes, the Segees said they expect to serve 450-500 families per year. They said being a family-owned and operated business allows them to serve Westbrook with the same care and thoughtfulness Blais and Hay did.

“We’re just trying to keep the same level of service to the community and honor the legacy we’ve been fortunate to take over,” Kristin Segee said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Eric and Kristin Segee, who own Dolby Funeral Chapels in Windham and Gorham, have purchased Blais and Hay Funeral Home in Westbrook.