Alan L. Mayer, 95; longtime St. Louis funeral director


Alan L. Mayer, who literally grew up in his family’s funeral home business, and who continued to help families plan funerals until as recently as last month, died Sunday, Aug. 10, 2010, of heart congestion at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was 95 and a longtime resident of University City.

Mr. Mayer, who had again renewed his state funeral director’s license last May, was helping a family with funeral plans when he became ill and was admitted to a hospital, according to family members.

Mr. Mayer was the “dutiful son” of the late Saville (“Solly”) and the late Selma Lang Mayer, of the old Mayer Funeral Home. Born in St. Louis, Alan Mayer grew up on the top floor of the Mayer Funeral Home on 4356 Lindell Boulevard, which his parents owned.

Mr. Mayer was a graduate of Soldan High School and of Washington University, where family members said he “cherished his membership in Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.” He continued his graduate studies in social work at Tulane University and did graduate work as a state caseworker in Louisiana.

During World War II, Mr. Mayer was an Army captain in Saipan in the South Pacific.

After the war, he sold promotional products for Brown & Bigelow and worked as a real estate agent.

Mr. Mayer met his future wife, Silvia, while they were both working at the old Jewish Social Services Bureau on Page Avenue. They married in 1948.

Alan and Silvia Mayer took over his family’s business in the 1960s after his father died. The Mayer family owned and operated the Mayer Funeral Home for 80 years. For most of the 20th century, the Jewish community was served by three funeral homes: Mayer Funeral Home, Rindskopf-Roth Funeral Home and Berger Memorial. The Mayer family was fond of sharing the story that the home’s first funeral was for a Chinese man who had been murdered in a local drug war over opium rights. Like his parents, Alan Mayer and his wife were highly regarded for their warm and reassuring manner and their willingness to work with families with special needs. Alan Mayer would often pay his respects by presiding over funerals in which the deceased had no survivors.

A Houston-based chain of funeral homes purchased the Mayer Funeral Home in 1994 and closed it in 2002. Because Mr. Mayer’s services continued to be in demand, he went to work for the Berger Memorial Funeral Home.

Richard Stein, the longtime president of Berger Memorial said, “I have known Alan for a long time, and my parents knew and respected his parents. When the Mayer Funeral Home closed in 2002, Alan became part of the Berger Memorial team. He was a warm and gentle man, who was very devoted to the families he worked with.”

A graveside service was held Tuesday, Aug. 12 at New Mount Sinai Cemetery, 8340 Gravois Road. Rabbi Joseph Rosenbloom, Emeritus and Rabbi Justin Gerber of Temple Emanuel officiated, and remarks were offered by Lincoln Mayer, one of Mr. Mayer’s sons.

Survivors, in addition to his son, include another son, Andrew Mayer of Creve Coeur; and two grandchildren. His wife Silvia died last year.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 331 East Troy, Wisc. 53120.