Orion C. Pinkerton Funeral Home, Inc.

1014 California Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15202 | 412-766-5600 | MAP


History of Orion C. Pinkerton Funeral Home, Inc.

The Orion C. Pinkerton Funeral Home opened to the public in June 1946, with an open house at the funeral home on June 14 and 15 marking the realization of Mr. Pinkerton's dream.

Mr. Pinkerton, a native of Mars, Pennsylvania, was a student in the first class (1939) of the Pittsburgh Mortuary School, now the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. After serving an internship in the early 1940s at the Frank W. Simons Funeral Home on Pittsburgh's north side, he began a career as a professional embalmer.

Very skilled and artful at his craft, he soon became much in demand and served the needs of a large number of funeral homes in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. The need for his services was made even greater because of the number of local funeral directors serving overseas during World War II. During those years, he had the desire to use his skills and knowledge to establish a business of his own. That ambition came to fruition in June 1946 when he purchased and renovated a large home built in 1902 in the Avalon suburb of Pittsburgh.

Soon after the funeral home's opening, he was approached by local community leaders and physicians who asked him to consider offering an ambulance service as well, since no such service existed in the communities and several tragic situations had occurred because of the long waits for an ambulance. He began the ambulance service in July 1946 with a refurbished 1937 LaSalle ambulance.

Mr. Pinkerton always demanded excellence of himself and his staff, and both businesses grew, also helped by the love, support and efforts of his wife, Jean. In 1969 he was recognized as the “Person of the Year” by the local chamber of commerce for his extensive community involvement and civic mindedness.

James Pinkerton, Mr. and Mrs. Pinkerton’s son, began working in the family business at an early age and became a licensed funeral director with the firm in 1973. Also trained as a paramedic, Jim focused a great deal of effort on the development and expansion of the ambulance service. It became on of the first advanced life support services in Pennsylvania in 1976.

In 1977 the next stage of development led to the creation of two separate corporations – the Orion C. Pinkerton Funeral Home, Inc. and Pinkerton Services, Inc., the ambulance operation. Both businesses achieved success and recognition. The ambulance service served as the primary EMS agency for seven communities and was a recipient of one of the Pennsylvania Governor's Highway Safety Awards for community training and safety activities.

The funeral home was recognized for 15 consecutive years with the Pursuit of Excellence Award presented by the National Funeral Director's Association. In three of those years, The Orion C. Pinkerton Funeral Home, Inc. was one of the top five funeral homes in the nation, receiving the Pursuit of Excellence Eagle Award.

As the communities and business environment changed, several strategies were initiated to position the two companies for greater presence and opportunity for the future. In 2002, Pinkerton Services, Inc., the ambulance operation, was merged into a new organization, NorthWest EMS. That company is now the largest private EMS service in Allegheny County.

In 2003, Orion, who was in declining health, and Jim decided to affiliate the funeral home with a larger organization in order to better position to ensure a viable succession plan. The original company with which the firm was affiliated was a subsidiary of the Meridian Mortuary Group. Subsequently, that firm was acquired by a larger entity, Keystone Mortuary Group, which joined the Service Corporation International family of Dignity Memorial® providers in 2010. Although no longer active in day-to-day activities, James Pinkerton remains as an officer and consultant to the funeral home.

Today, we are proud to be a member of the Dignity Memorial network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. Dignity Memorial providers offer exclusive benefits, including National Transferability of Prearranged Services, the Bereavement Travel Program, the 24-Hour Compassion Helpline® and access to an acclaimed grief management library. As North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services, the Dignity Memorial brand is your assurance of quality, value, caring service and exceptional customer satisfaction.

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