Shook Funeral Home
639 Van Houten Avenue
Clifton, NJ 07013

Our Founder

Joseph M. Shook, Sr. 1924-2008
Joseph M. Shook, Sr. 1924-2008
Joseph M. Shook, Sr. was born on March 15, 1924 in the small town of Mayfield, in the coal mining region of Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of eight children, born to a twice widowed mother. His father Joseph, had been killed in a coal mining accident a few months before he was born.

Raised by his mother and older siblings, he graduated from Mayfield High School and shortly thereafter enlisted in the US Marine Corp. Joe was stationed at the Commandant's Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for a short time. Later Joe proudly served his country and saw action on both Peleliu and Okinawa during WWII. In 1945, after returning from the war, he moved to Clifton and met his future wife, the former Eleanor Zarucki; they were married the following year.

After serving his apprenticeship with the Schlemm Funeral Home in Union City, Joe graduated from the McAllister School of Embalming in NYC in 1951. He received his Funeral Director's License in 1952 and his Embalmer's License in 1953. He remained with Mr. Schlemm until he and his wife Eleanor purchased the Durkos homestead on Van Houten Ave. On June 7, 1955, the NJ State Board of Mortuary Science granted approval to operate Shook Funeral Home at that location.

Later Joe became President of Shook Funeral Home, Inc., and operated not only the Clifton location, but also Shook's Cedar Grove Funeral Home in Cedar Grove and Murray-Paradee Funeral Home in Cherry Hill. In 1982, Joe was appointed by then Gov. Brendan Byrne to the State Board of Mortuary Science for a 2-year term.

Joe was a member of the Passaic County Funeral Directors Association, the NJ State Funeral Director's Association and the National Funeral Director's Association. He was a member of the Athenia Veterans Post, a Charter and Honorary Life Member of Regina Mundi Knights of Columbus Council #3969, a member of the Clifton Elks Lodge #1569 and was named "Citizen of the Year" 2000-2001.

As an active parishioner of St. John Kanty RC Church, Joe served as an Usher for many years and was a member of the Holy Name Society. On June 9, 2008, at the age of 84, Joe died peacefully in his home above the funeral home, where he started his business and raised his family.