History of Gippsland Funeral Services

GFS a constant in century of change.

In a century of enormous change and development of new technology, it's good to know there are some constants. In the Sale and Maffra region, one of those constants has been Gippsland Funeral Services, a family-owned business that has been operating for nearly 70 years.

The third generation of the family, Scott Rossetti, operates Gippsland Funeral Services, following in the footsteps of his father Geoff and Grandfather Carl Uebergang. Now the business is located in premises on the Sale-Maffra Road, adjacent to the Sale Cemetery. Its facilities include a Chapel noted for its design. In keeping with the family theme and tradition, the building was designed by Scott's brother Craig, an architect in his own practice. According to Scott Rossetti, the building helps with the grieving process and has assisted in bringing people to terms with the natural grief associated with death. "

[Raymond Stores Delivery Vehicles]
[Raymond Stores Interior]

We're fortunate to have a building that has served us well throughout this decade and will continue to serve the region well in the new millennium. "One of our aims is to keep up the long family tradition and continue the philosophy expressed by my grandfather, Carl Uebergang. He said he didn't care how many funerals he looked after, but each one would be well conducted. "It is a simple philosophy that has served three generations well."

Family business still serving the community

When Carl Uebergang moved to Sale in the Depression years to purchase a hardware store, little did he know that he was starting a business that would continue for three generations and into the next century. In 1932, when he made that move to Sale, Carl may have been even more surprised if he had known that Funeral Services, and not hardware, would be the continuing family business. Carl met and married his wife, Jess McColl in Sale, and then after working at the local gas works, received an inheritance. He invested wisely, purchasing the hardware business in Raymond Street.

The business, named Prosser and Moffat and before that Hog, Hook and Tulloch, was a true general store - it even had a small funeral business as a sideline. The young Carl had wanted to buy the business without the funerals but was unable to do so. The only direct funeral competition in Sale was Jensen's Funeral Parlour, which looked after the majority of funerals in Sale. By contrast, Prosser and Moffat looked after only about half a dozen funerals a year. Carl Uebergang realised however that if he was in the funeral business, he had to conduct it properly and was quoted as saying that he didn't care how many funerals he looked after but each one would be well conducted. His aim was not necessarily to make funerals cheaper, but to make them better. He achieved his aim, to the extent that he later bought out Jenson's business.

The 'mixed business' worked well, with hardware at the front of the business and arranged funerals at the back of the shop, trading under the name Uebergang Funeral Services. The controlling family company, Carl and Jess and their children and their spouses, was called Raymond Stores.

[Carl and Jess Uebergang]
[Geoff Rossetti]

In the middle 1950's Carl purchased buildings in York Street on the corner of Macarthur Street. The funeral business moved there, while maintaining the hardware business in Raymond Street. In 1958 Carl moved his family into the residence attached to the funeral business and by 1963, when Carl retired, the funeral business was looking after approximately 110 funerals annually. By the time Carl retired, his son in law, Geoff Rossetti, was ready to take over the family business. Married to the Uebergang daughter Fae, Geoff had moved to Sale after working in a bank in Melbourne. The family was very well established in Sale by that stage, with Geoff becoming a Town Councillor and later Mayor of Sale.

The business too continued to grow as the district grew and in 1977, Geoff purchased the business of Don Weir (D. J. Weir) in Maffra. Geoff continued running the hardware store and funeral business under the umbrella of Raymond Stores and Uebergang Funeral Services until July 1978, when Raymond Stores was dissolved. The hardware business was sold off and a new company formed to run the funeral business. This company was called Lecora Pty Ltd, trading through the Rossetti Family Trust, which involved Geoff and Carole Rossetti and their respective children.

The business name of Gippsland Funeral Services was registered and traded under from this time, continuing to grow with the community and eventually expanding, taking in the business of D. Phillips in Yarram in October 1980. Gippsland Funeral Services also purchased the business of H. Phillips in Foster in May 1981. Geoff started taking a back seat in the day to day operations of the business, leaving these tasks to his staff. By the time Geoff retired in 1995, Gippsland Funeral Services was one of the largest funeral services in the region. It had grown so much that Scott Rossetti became the third generation to work in the family business.

Scott and his wife Caroline returned to Sale from Melbourne, where Scott had been studying and later working. The plan was that the young couple could grow into the business, while Geoff took even more of a back seat and enjoyed his retirement years. However before that plan could really take shape, the family was faced with severe illness. Only a few months after Scott and Caroline returned from the city, Geoff was diagnosed with cancer, in October 1995. He died only a few months later, in March 1996. Scott suddenly found himself running the business on his own,. Conscious of the family history and commitment to the district, he and Caroline decided to continue, and the business is now run through the G.F.S. trust, controlled by Scott A. Rossetti Pty Ltd.

[Scott, Samantha, Charlie, Stephanie and Caroline Rossetti]
[Scott Rossetti]

While in Melbourne, Scott completed an Electrical Apprenticeship and a Bachelor of Business at RMIT, working for a period as an accountant at KPMG Peat Marwick. More recently Scott has completed a Post Graduate Diploma of Arts at Monash in Civil Ceremonies and a Master of eBusiness degree at RMIT. He has also been appointed by the Attorney General's Department as a Civil Marriage Celebrant and is a former Divisional Councillor with the Australian Funeral Directors Association.

He is using those skills, and more importantly, the skills and experience passed through the family to operate GFS, in Sale, Heyfield, Maffra, Foster and Yarram. Scott is also continuing the family involvement with local council as a Shire Councillor (Mayor 2010 and Deputy Mayor 2009) of the Wellington Shire Council and past chair of the Gippsland Local Government Network (GLGN - 2010) and in the community as member of the Committee for Wellington and President of the Tanderra Ski Club Mt Hotham.

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