Steve McCowen, Funeral Director
Family has always been a principal part of the McCowen household. For Steve, it all began in the blue-collar town of Jackson, MI. He is the son of Robert (Sue) McCowen, and Nancy (Terry) Willyard. He raised on a lake on the southeast side of town called Clark Lake, along with his brother Jeff. Coming to Kalamazoo as a child was a normal part of his life. His paternal grandpa, Robert McCowen was a chemist at Upjohn Co and grandma, Vivian “Viv” worked as a secretary for Portage Schools at Waylee Elementary; maternal grandpa, Richard Comstock was letter carrier in Kalamazoo and grandma, Dorothy was a Kindergarten teacher for Kalamazoo Public Schools. Steve’s parents, Bob McCowen graduated from State High and his mom graduated in the last class of Portage High before it was split between Central and Northern. His grandparents were all strong influences in his life. He has fond memories of spending time with them as a kid, especially at Milham Park.
During high school Steve’s dad recommended him for a position at a local funeral home. Steve says it was his dad’s way of getting him out of the house to earn money for gas if he wanted to drive the car. As it turned out to be the very thing that set Steve on a path for the future. Steve liked working at the funeral home so much that he decided to pursue the profession as his career. He had been mentored by a gentleman named, Tom Tuthill. So, upon graduating from Jackson’s Lumen Christi High School, he spent the next two years at Ferris State, before transferring to Xavier University to attend the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.
In 2003, Steve found his home working for RDMG Life Story Funeral Home in Vicksburg, Portage, and Plainwell. Working for Sheldon and Marilyn Durham was a huge blessing to Steve. They were instrumental in him learning to be a small-town funeral director. Marilyn spent a lot of time with Steve teaching him everything there was to know about Vicksburg and the families he served. Steve credits Marilyn for teaching him how to be a funeral director. Her legacy of caring and compassion for her community is something that was embedded in Steve.
In March of 2018, Steve was given the opportunity to purchase the funeral homes, which is now called the McCowen & Secord Life Story Family Funeral Homes. As it turned out 2018 was a big year for Steve. He also in August of that year married Jenny (Whitting) McKillop. Together they have blending their family into a family of five children: Mackenzie McCowen, Emma McKillop, Joey McCowen, Evan McKillop, and Stephen McCowen.
Steve is very active in the Vicksburg community. His family is a member of the St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Roles Steve has held in Vicksburg include: Chairman of the Vicksburg DDA, President of the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce, Trustee for the Vicksburg Community School Foundation, volunteered for the Vicksburg Little League and Rocket Football program and attends most all of the sporting activities at Vicksburg High School. Outside of Vicksburg he has held the position of Vice President of the Board for Kairos Dwelling in Kalamazoo; was on the board at Christian Neighbor’s in Plainwell and supporting Portage Central athletics where Jenny’s children attend.
In Steve’s spare time he enjoys spending time with his family and following their children’s sports and other activities. He enjoys getting out to run and has completed two half marathons and countless 5k’s. He’s never at the front of the pack, but he always finishes and strives to better his personal times.
You can never take the lake out of a kid that grew up on a lake. He still enjoys going to Clark Lake and spending time on the lakes around Kalamazoo. He feels very blessed to call the Kalamazoo area home.
Tim Secord, Funeral Director
It is no secret that people need a friend and a professional to walk with them through the journey of loss. Besides knowing this first-hand from the death of his own father, Tim's background has led him to the point of being perfectly suited to be the loyal friend and true professional we all need when death occurs.
Tim grew up in Breckenridge--Michigan that is, NOT Colorado as Tim is quick to point out! But as a kid he liked snow skiing anyway, there just weren't many mountains in Mid Michigan! With six brothers and sisters there was bound to be fun no matter what. Growing up in a big family accounts partly, too, for Tim's easy going attitude and willingness to invest in people. He learned from his father that character counts, as does concern for the well-being of others. These things fit right in with Tim's quiet but deep faith.
In high school, Tim says, he honed his people-skills--meaning he preferred hanging out with friends and, of course girls, rather than studying. Didn't we all! From high school he went on to Spring Arbor University for four years and graduated with a Christian Ministry Degree. Tim served as a Youth Pastor in Ohio for five years and then as an Associate Pastor in Otsego, MI. Along the way he took every opportunity to broaden his life-experience by serving as a Camp Director, a firefighter and EMT, as well as an author and speaker.
So how did Tim become interested in funeral service? He had no connection to funeral service early in life, saying it was never even a blip on his radar screen. Until . . . he began doing funerals as a pastor, and became friends with a funeral director. Tim quickly discovered funeral service fit in well with his desire to serve people, especially at a time of great loss. So he went back to college, earned a degree in Mortuary Science, and now has his National Board Certificate from The Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards of the United States and his license to practice in Michigan from the State Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science. Tim's desire to serve people has taken him on a journey from vocational ministry to ministry as a funeral director.
Tim finds profound satisfaction working with families who need his services. By sharing his love, support, and guidance, people quickly find comfort and relief knowing that they are in good hands. They know, too, that the precious memories and stories of their love ones will be preserved, shared, and saved for future generations.
Tim and his wife, Tera, their daughter Madison, and son Gabriel, live in Otsego. Tim says Madie is driven and talented like her mother--but skis like her dad! Gabe, he says, likes to joke and make people laugh--like his dad. Thankfully, both children got their mother’s good looks. When he's not at the funeral home Tim likes to spend time golfing and skiing. And pushing his skill with Play Station 3; he's determined to beat his kids at a game, any game! This, of course, rarely happens.
Jenny McCowen, Accounting
Zach Siple, General Manager/Funeral Director
Zach Siple is the General Manager for McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Homes and Avink Funeral Homes & Cremation Society. Hailing from Vermontville, Michigan Zach moved to Grand Rapids for his undergraduate studies at Grand Valley State University. It was there that he met his amazing wife: Alexis (Courtney) Siple. The two were united in holy matrimony in July of 2016. They bought their first house and moved to the Schoolcraft area in 2017 to be closer to family, Alexis having grown up Mattawan area.
Zach has worked in the funeral industry since 2013 having worked a livery coachman as his first job in the business. His boss took Zach “under his wing” and encouraged him to pursue a career in Mortuary Science. In 2017 he graduated from American Academy McAllister Institute of Mortuary Science and became a licensed funeral director. Zach’s favorite part about being a funeral director is being able to help those in need. He finds that the most rewarding part about this job is being able to pray for/with the families that he assists, showing them God’s love during some of the most difficult times during their life.
In Zach’s spare time he enjoys spending time with his wife, participating in Bible study with close friends, practicing guitar, playing video games, 3D printing, and reading. If you were to spot him in the community it would more than likely be at the Schoolcraft Community Library, taking his dog, Gimli, for a walk, or The Distant Whistle Brewery in Vicksburg. Zach loves to brew beer with his dad: Michael Siple and his favorite part about it is experimenting and dialing in a recipe that is perfect for the current time of year.
Nathan Rolfe, Funeral Director- Apprentice
Nate comes from the small town of Coopersville, where his parents Bob and Lesa Rolfe raised him and his older brother Derek. Nate moved to the Kalamazoo area in early 2003 when he had a job offer with a local funeral home. He decided then and there that this was his calling. A couple years later he met the love of his life Diane. After a brief courtship they were joined together in wedded bliss mid-2007. After a brief hiatus from the funeral business, Nate returned to the funeral business and is happy to be back and helping families at their time of need. Nate and Diane now live in the Portage area with their three dogs who are just like their children. When Nate is not busy at the funeral home he can be found spending time with his wife and dogs, outside enjoying nature while being an amateur photographer or geocaching (www.geocaching.com for more information), or even developing film in his home darkroom.
Lois Bach, Administrative Assistant
Lois grew up in Kalamazoo, and then lived in Scotts for 18 years while her kids, Paul, John, and Darcy grew up. She has now settled in Otsego, living with her significant other, Dave aka, Gramps. She is also known as Louie, and her grandkids Sarah, Sammy, and Matthew call her Wonderful Grandma. Looking for work while taking computer classes, she was referred to Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren Funeral Home for an interview. After being offered a position as administrative assistant, she said she would “give it a try” and has been working at the funeral home since 1999. She says, “I love my job!” Always doing crafts, she enjoys planning get togethers where a theme is involved. Especially for the grandkid’s birthdays where creating decorations and usually a t-shirt is involved. She also enjoys, sewing, gardening, and reading.
Brenda Doezema Marsman, Administrative Assistant and Funeral Assistant
Brenda grew up on a dairy farm in Shelbyville and is a graduate of Kalamazoo Christian High School and also has an Associate Degree from Davenport College. While in high school, Brenda began at our Plainwell location and has now been serving families for over twenty-five years. The relationships she builds with families in the community is a favorite part of her work. Brenda and her husband Kevin have been married since 1995 and have two sons, one daughter and two dogs. When Brenda is not at the funeral home she enjoys reading, shopping, walking, and spending time with her family.