As Sussex’s population grows, so does need for pet cremation

Subs from Milton’s Norma’s Restaurant hold a mythical status in my family
March 31, 2023

Story Location:
Parcell Pet Crematorium
16961 Coastal Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

One of the good things about having this column is that it gives me the opportunity to write about things that I otherwise wouldn’t. That’s the case with today’s column. For the past couple of weeks, Parsell Pet Crematorium has been running an ad for a pet cremation specialist in the Gazette’s Classified section. That’s a job posting that doesn’t come through very often, so I reached out to see if there’s been a dramatic increase in the need or if Parsell simply needs to fill a position. In the end, it was both. 

TJ Bishop is the pet crematorium manager for Parsell. He’s been with the company for over a decade. He said an employee recently left, which is why there’s a job opening, but the need for the service is also on the rise.

Parsell has seen a 20% increase in pet cremations each of the last couple years. Saturday business hours have been added in the past year to meet the demand, said Bishop. They’re doing more than 100 pet cremations a month right now, he said.

“Every new development that gets built brings more people and more pets,” said Bishop, adding their clientele tends to be people 60 and older. “It’s a lot of empty nesters whose pets have really become a part of their families.”

Tim Bradley works with Bishop. He said there’s often more tissues used when they go pick up dead pets than when they pick up humans. When someone’s 86-year-old grandma dies, it’s somewhat expected, but when a pet dies unexpectedly, it can be emotionally draining for the customers, he said.

As with humans, Bishop and Bradley often provide emotional support for their customers. It’s tough, so it’s important to have an easygoing demeanor and to know what to say, said Bishop.

It makes sense that as the area’s population continues to grow, so do the needs for services like pet cremation. It was just something I’d never really thought about.

Norma’s has mythical status in my family

Last week, Pam Bounds, in her Around Town with Pam column, reminisced about Norma’s Restaurant in Milton and how it introduced her to sub sandwiches.

It reminded me of my connection to the gone-but-not-forgotten restaurant. Norma’s and the subs they made have a mythical status in my family. My mom grew up on Gravel Hill Road outside Milton. She and, I think, all three of her sisters worked at Norma’s at some point in their teenage years. To this day, my mom compares pretty much every sub she orders to the ones that used to be made at Norma’s. None of them compare favorably.

We moved to Maine between my second- and third-grade years. Our family vacations were coming to visit both sides of the family here in Delaware. For years, in addition to the bricks of Rapa Scrapple to store in our freezer, my mom would bring back a sub from Norma’s to be eaten after making the day-long drive up the I-95 corridor. Ordered the night before the drive, the sub would get eaten as soon as the car was unpacked because the structural integrity of the bread was losing the battle with the oil and vinegar. However, even with bread on the edge of being soggy, I know my mom enjoyed that sub more than anything she ever got in Maine.

Joke of the Week:

Earlier this week, March 28, the Delaware Senate again voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. That day also happened to be National Weed Appreciation Day – Google it. The day is a friendly reminder that some weeds are useful to humans and the surrounding ecosystem. It’s definitely not a day to celebrate the slang term for cannabis, but I thought it was a funny coincidence. Anyway, as always, send jokes to

Q: What did the alien weed say to the Earth weed?

A: Take me to your weeder.


  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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