CANTON — Two of the area’s oldest funeral homes have combined.

Arnold Funeral Homes has purchased Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home, giving the 130-year-old family-owned business a third location. The funeral home at 4817 Cleveland Ave. NW will operate as Arnold & Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home.

“I could not be happier with who took over the business,” said Claude “Skip” Shriver, who opted to sell after working at the funeral home since 1970. The companies finalized the deal in late May.

Shriver said he decided as a youngster that he wanted to work as a funeral director. While in high school, he went to the Arnold Funeral Home and asked about a job, but John C. Arnold — grandson of business founder John Loren Arnold — didn’t need help. Shriver then went to David H. Foster at Spiker-Foster and was hired.

Shriver became a vice president with Spiker-Foster in 1980 before buying the business, which opened in 1911 at 710 Tuscrawas St. W. The Cleveland Avenue Northwest building, which was built as a private residence and then used as offices, opened as a second Spiker-Foster-Shriver location in 1988.

The Spiker-Foster-Shriver and Arnold funeral homes competed as businesses through the years, but the owners knew each other and sometimes worked together. For example, when founder C.D. Spiker died in 1957, the Arnold family handled the funeral service.

“There’s always been a high amount of respect for each others’ firms,” said John L. Arnold, president of Arnold Funeral Homes and the fourth generation to lead the business.

Shriver said the two companies have worked alongside each other for years, and “have taken great care to ensure the smoothest transition.”

Arnold and Shriver said the businesses are being blended and all pre-planned arrangements have been transferred to the combined firm. As part of the merger, Dena James, a funeral director with Spiker-Foster-Shriver, has joined the Arnold staff. Shriver said he also will be available when needed to help.

The two funeral homes began discussing a merger last year after Shriver dealt with some health issues and John S. Arnold, son of John L. Arnold, became the fifth generation of the family to work at the funeral home.

The younger Arnold recalled years of fun conversations between his father and Shriver. The relationship gave way for the opportunity for Arnold to grow and for Shriver to spend more time with his family, John S. Arnold said.

The Arnold & Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home will join Arnold Funeral Home locations at 1517 Market Ave. N in Canton and 504 W. Maple St. in Hartville.

The original Spiker-Foster-Shriver location on Tuscarawas Avenue West is not part of the merger. Shriver said that more than 75% of his firm’s services were at the Cleveland Avenue location. He expects to sell the property in downtown Canton.