J esse E. Cooley, Jr. Funeral Service held an "Open House" on Sunday, February 10, 2008 for its new facility.
Residents throughout the city attended the event which showcased the new facility which replaced the old funeral home that was destroyed by fire in 2004.
The family-owned business is the oldest African-American owned and operated business in Fresno.
The Cooley family entered into the funeral industry under the leadership of Jesse E. Cooley, Sr., who studied mortuary science in Cinncinatti, Ohio in 1925. He opened the mortuary in 1928 in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
Mr. Cooley, Sr. married the former Beatrice Gray, and moved to Fresno in 1939, where he started the groundwork and officially opened "Valley Funeral Home" in 1941, making it the first Black-owned mortuary in the San Joaquin Valley.
Jesse E. Cooley, Jr. having been trained under his father, teamed up with Andrew Riolo in 1953, when they opened the first Black-owned mortuary in Solano County, CA-"Cooley-Riolo Funeral Home".
In 1956, Jesse Jr., returned home to Fresno, receiving the reins from his father, he began to operate and oversee the mortuary under the new name of "Jesse E. Cooley, Jr. Funeral Home."
In 1959, with the assistance of his father, Jesse Sr., he opened the second branch of the funeral home in Bakersfield, CA and in 1971, a third branch was opened in Stockton, CA. In recent years, Jesse Jr. and wife Barbara Taylor Cooley have established new locations at the Bakersfield and Stockton branches and the Community Chapel on Tulare and Waterman streets in Fresno.
The new Fresno facility at 1830 S. Fruit street, is a state of the art facility that is now complete and open for business.