It is difficult not to mention Rochester New York in the story of Mooney Keehley. The town was a city of remarkable growth heading into the 1900s. It featured a very diverse business base with the great geographic advantage of locating off the Great Lakes. The town also features a major river running through connecting to the Erie Canal and a world of national and international shipping.


The city and region arose as a technology center with the support of a strong educational foundation and remained so into the 1980s. Among the many businesses that thrived, Rochester produced photographic equipment, photocopiers, business machines, lenses and eyeglass supplies. Thousands of people were employed by Rochester Gas and Electric, Rochester Telephone, Rochester Transit Authority, and other businesses such as Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch&Lomb all call Rochester their corporate headquarters.


Communications and printing companies, film houses, type houses, and hundreds of smaller businesses operated as extensions of the print-information support for these larger companies and their base. Eager young tradesmen developed the skills for many of the hand-done operations at the time. It wasn’t such an odd thing for a young person to go into the printing trade or industry.


Rochester Institute of Technology, or Mechanics Institute as it was called, has seen incredible growth as a private technology institute. It was a hub of printing technology and provided credibility and development of the new technology through research, driving the trade and industry through both traditional and digital printing methods. With the growth of Xerox and Bausch & Lomb as global companies and the ever-present parental Kodak, print collateral, sales packages, direct mail programs, and packaging and kept many a print house thriving. In Rochester’s economic heyday, the printing industry kept humming into the night, every night.


As the profiles of the employees at Mooney-Keehley testify the Rochester area produced some very talented tradespeople who dedicated their work lives to their craft, delivering complex high-visibility projects, at a very high level, over many years.

John O. Mooney must have known what the future would hold in 1925 when he decided to start a print shop featuring premier engraving and innovative products at affordable prices available to everyone. The John O. Mooney Company established itself as a quality engraver with stationery packages as its bread and butter. Mr. Frank Keehley, the General Manager, purchased the business in 1944 and changed the name to Mooney Keehley. Mooney Keehley developed a high-end reputation in the funeral home industry particularly up the East Coast to customers in larger urban areas such as New York and Boston. Mooney Keehely had a reputation for producing prestigious as well as personal projects such as creating prayer cards for President John F. Kennedy.


Today at Mooney Keehley, the handed-down practice of hand-turned printing, trimming, cutting, punching, and surface stamping techniques developed from its beginning-continue today. After Ken Hampson purchased the company in 2005, he has scoured many a huge brick building of former homes of printing companies that had closed their doors eager to unload their vintage machinery. Ken was able to recruit a select class of craftsmen that built their lives on careers in print. He took inventory to evaluate his company’s strengths in the coming years. Instead of trying to become a broad distributor of funeral home products, he decided to sell what he could make in his print shop. He committed to focusing on being a specialist in creating printed keepsake products, but to a larger audience.


Ken wanted to broaden the choices available to all people for their loved one’s funeral, memorial, and other end-of-life traditions and customs. He partnered with a design firm to develop new products and product collections for broader an emerging markets. Ken wanted Mooney Keehley to continue to produce the very traditional offerings his company is known for but also to develop new products for broader and emerging traditions and cultural approaches to honoring the life and memory of every person.

He is focused on a steady approach to growth producing premier products and developing innovative keepsakes that continue to hold special meaning over time. He and his dedicated staff feel that by employing hand-done print techniques, quality papers and boards, some digital technology, and a fresh design approach geared to ever-evolving cultural influences, Mooney Keehley can become a quiet leader. The goal is to help people to honor the life of their loved ones for a long time by making special hand-crafted products. Now that’s pretty cool.

Rochester Printing Industry