History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History


John N. Burtis, pioneer resident of Asbury Park, NJ, grew up in Wrightstown, NJ and worked for his father before moving to Asbury Park, to take charge of his brother's piano & organ business in 1878.

The Burtis' piano & organ business was originally established on the site of the Appleby Real Estate Building on the corner of Main Street and Mattison Avenue, later moving further down Mattison Avenue. In 1891 Burtis added undertaking to his line of services and relocated the business to 517 Bangs Avenue. The first floor was built to accommodate the piano and organ business and the second floor to run the funeral home.

During the Great Depression, the piano and organ business struggled and the building at 517 Bangs Avenue was lost to pay the $6,000 mortgage. Burtis moved the Burtis Funeral Home into the first floor of his home at 514 2nd Avenue where he was later joined in business by his son, Ralph Burtis.


Joseph R. Ely, after his service in The United States Army during World War I, went to work for the Heyer Funeral Home in Hightstown, NJ. Around 1937, he moved to Asbury Park, NJ to become the manager of the Bodine Funeral Home. In the fall of 1942, Joseph Ely, with the help of Willis A. Woolley, purchased the funeral home and named it The Ely and Woolley Funeral Home.


Joseph R. Ely bought out Woolley's interest in the funeral home and changed the name to the Joseph R. Ely Funeral Home. Joseph was active in the Asbury Park community and served as a city councilman. He was active in civic organizations such as Kiwanis Club, Asbury Lodge F. & A.M. #142 as well as the advisory board of the Asbury Park Salvation Army.


Howard L. Ely, after his service in the United States Navy during World War II, moved from his native Allentown, NJ to Asbury Park, NJ. He earned his funeral director license in 1949 and worked with his uncle, Joseph R. Ely. In 1962, Joseph retired and Howard purchased it. Howard renamed it the Ely Funeral Home.


Howard expanded the funeral home business and built a branch location in Neptune, NJ. He operated both facilities until the late 70’s, when the decision was made to phase out the Asbury Park location. Howard was active in Asbury Park civic affairs as well as volunteer organizations. He was a member of the Asbury Park Kiwanis, and served as past worshipful master of Asbury-Jordan Lodge 142 F & AM. Howard is past president of the advisory board of the Asbury Park Salvation Army and continues to serve as lifetime member as of this writing.


DeForest John Ely, earned his funeral director license in 1980 and began working at the Ely Funeral Home, fulfilling a life long dream he had of working with his father. Howard and DeForest, ‘John’ as his friends knew him, worked together for several years when Howard sold The Ely Funeral Home to John allowing Howard to retire in 1999.

John was active in the Neptune Township community, most notably in the Hamilton First Aid Company for many years and serving as Fire Chief from 1979 to 1980.

DeForest John Ely owned and operated The Ely Funeral Home from 1999 until he lost his battle with cancer in the summer of 2004. During his years in business, the funeral home saw tremendous growth and expansion.


Howard L. Ely came out of retirement and purchased the Ely Funeral Home from the estate of DeForest John Ely. Shortly after purchasing the funeral home for the second time, he had the privilege of having one of his grandsons, Michael J. Ely, apprentice under him.


Michael J. Ely is the second of DeForest’s four children. After his service in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Michael earned his funeral director license in the fall of 2006 and continues to work with his grandfather, Howard L. Ely, at the Ely Funeral Home as of this writing. He is proudly following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.


In the fall of this year, Michael was named to the position of Manager at the Ely Funeral Home and continues to manage the funeral home to date.


In December of this year, Michael purchased the funeral home from his grandfather, making him the fourth generation of the Ely family to own and operate this funeral home.


Our Valued Staff

Mr. Michael J. Ely

Mr. Michael J. Ely, Owner/Manager, NJ Lic. No. 4729

Michael is the current owner and manager of the Ely Funeral Home. He was licensed in 2006 and is the fourth generation of funeral directors in his family. He received his professional degree in Mortuary Science from Mercer County Community College. He is a member of the American Legion Post #346 in Neptune as well as the Monmouth County Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Michael also serves on the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army in Asbury Park. He served in the United States Marine Corps and is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom serving a combat tour in 2003. He is married to Mrs. Michelle F. Ely nee Guadagnino and they are proud parents to their children Lincoln, Landon, Walker and Emerson.

Mr. James Moriarty

Mr. James Moriarty, Funeral Director NJ Lic. No. 5080

James Moriarty is the newest addition to the Ely Funeral Home family. James graduated with a Bachelor degree in Biology from Stockton University in 2010 and received his professional degree in Mortuary Science from Mercer County Community College in 2014. He holds a New Jersey Life Producer’s License (#1515827) used to transact life insurance since 2013. James was soon after licensed as a mortuary practitioner and NJ notary in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean County and hopes to continue to build relationships with the families he serves.

Mrs. Sarah E. Hansen

Mrs. Sarah E. Hansen, Funeral Director, NJ Lic. No. 5011

Sarah joined the Ely Funeral Home team as a director back in 2018. She graduated from the Funeral Service Program at Mercer County Community College and became a licensed Funeral Director in 2013. She is a resident of Ocean County where she enjoys spending time on the water. Sarah married her husband David in 2014 and they had their first child Haleigh Grace in 2017. Sarah enjoys her work with families and helping people in need. She is also a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World where she loves spending time with her family.

Mr. Howard L. Ely

Mr. Howard L. Ely, In Memory 1926 - 2018

Howard was the second generation of Ely Family to own the Ely Funeral Home. He received his degree from The McAllister Institute in New York City, NY. Howard was a Past Worshipful Master of the Asbury Jordan Lodge #142 F. & A.M., Neptune and was very active in many civic organizations. In 2017, after more than 67 years with the Ely Funeral Home, Howard officially retired. He was predeceased by his loving wife of 60 years, Mrs. Patricia D. Ely, who passed in 2013 and their son Deforest John Ely, who passed away in 2004, a daughter Cindy Dellett and a daughter Linda Ely.

John N.  Burtis

John N. Burtis, 1859-1931

J. Ralph  Burtis

J. Ralph Burtis, 1893-1942

Mr. Joseph R. Ely

Mr. Joseph R. Ely, In Memory 1897-1966

Mr. Deforest John  Ely

Mr. Deforest John Ely, In Memory 1955-2004

Mrs. Patricia Ann Ely

Mrs. Patricia Ann Ely, In Memory 1933-2013