The Farenga Bros. Funeral Home, located at 920 Allerton Avenue, has served the northeast Bronx for half a century.
Built in 1957, the Farenga Bros. Funeral Home is the current flagship location for the firm, located by the crossroads of the major thoroughfares, Williamsbridge Road and Boston Road.
Combining a bakery and former funeral home, the location has expanded and been renovated several times and includes five chapels, lounges and offices.
In 2004, the business expanded even further, acquiring Hodder Funeral Home, serving the Woodlawn and McLean Heights Community, at 899 McLean Avenue in Yonkers near the Bronx border.
“My family has always believed in giving back to the community and reinvesting in our business,” said Sal Farenga, the current director of the funeral home, who comes from a long line of Sal Farengas in the business.
A graduate of Mount St. Michael Academy and St. John ’s University, Sal began his career in funeral service in 1971, and has run his family funeral business for a number of years.
But the family tradition dates back even further to 1896 with the opening of a funeral home on the lower east side by Felice Farenga.
In the early 1900’s, the family business moved into to the bustling community of East Harlem, eventually establishing a location at 204 East 116th Street, a former bank, which provided large chapels and facilities to accommodate larger crowds.
The first Sal Farenga in the funeral business, who ran the East Harlem property with his oldest son Felix, was also a community leader, elected assemblyman in the late 1930’s.
“My family has been blessed with great leaders through its history and I have tried to learn from my predecessors,” Felix’ son Sal Farenga said.
The business is now in the 5th generation of family stewardship, as son Sal Anthony runs the Yonkers location and serves as operation manager for the firm.
After attending Fordham Preparatory School and Fairfield University, he received his funeral director’s license in 2002. His brother Nick, a recent Manhattan College graduate, is currently training to become a licensed funeral director as well.
Civic leaders in his Pelham Gardens community have only kind words for the Farenga family.
“He’s been a staple in this community for many years, both as a business owner and active in community organizations,” North East Bronx Association president Vinny Prezioso said. “I think he’s a fine man and a gentleman.”
Despite the nature of his business, Sal Farenga, the motorcycle-driving father of three is known for his humor and warmth.
“He’s a good neighbor and always has a joke,” said Don Gilligan, of the Chester Civic organization, and a neighbor of Farenga on Gunther Avenue.
Sal Farenga understands his role in the community, and a call to his business is not one any family wants to make. But, he has expressed gratitude that so many families keep coming back.
“I feel so honored that the people of the Bronx have entrusted my staff and I with the responsibility of caring for them during one of the most trying times of their lives.”