The Birth of a Third Generation Firm

Every so often I read an article on funeral service that just makes me smile.  When that happens it is not an article on caskets or mergers, or acquisitions, or cash-flow, or pre-need, or aftercare, it is always about the lives that have been lived serving their communities as funeral directors.  Maybe, it is because that’s what I did — and at the end of the day it was not about the facility I worked in or the paycheck I received — the career was really about the people who trusted me, called on me, and let me walk with them through a very difficult time in their lives.  When I reflect back on my time in funeral service the fondest times are those I remember of helping people.

I just read such an article in the Ionia, Michigan Sentinel-Standard which you can read here.  The article is a human interest article on Mr. Robert Lake who has served that community as a funeral director for 40 years.  As the article states he started as a non-funeral director delivering flowers and taking down chairs.  In 1977 he had the opportunity to purchase the Saranac Funeral Home in Ionia and did so.  The next 40 years he spent serving his community and mentions that his call volume has went from 26 that first year to about 185 calls annually today.

In the meantime, Lake now 71 years old, has had the opportunity to have his son, Bob, Jr. join the firm and his grandson, Robert Lake III, is a mortuary apprentice and will soon be joining the family business.  I think the opportunity to be able to see two more generations work in the facility he built up has got to be gratifying.  I’m a 4th generation family funeral director but never got to work with my father who died when I was a teenager, much less my grandfather.  How special it must be for the elder Mr. Lake.

The article mentions, “Spend time with the Lakes, and it becomes clear that this is more than just a job for them.”  I’m certain that is true because that is how I felt about my calling.  Bob, Jr. says, “It’s a lifestyle. . . It’s not about embalming.  It’s about helping people get through the hardest time of their life.”  Bob, Sr. added, “You have to dedicate your life to it.”

Our gratitude goes out to the Lake family as they celebrate 40 years in business.  They have held the torch of funeral service in their community, carried it high, and expect to continue it to the next generation.  Well done!!!



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Funeral Director Daily

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bauschke on January 22, 2018 at 5:52 am

    The Lakes are good people. I know them, for it was my pleasure to be Bob Lake’s Batesville rep when he purchased the funeral home in Saranac 40 years ago. Those were tough times for Bob and his wife, Kathy, as they worked to grow their business and raise their family. They lived in the funeral home, had a casket display area in a barn behind the funeral home, and with grit and fortitude they made it all work. Their business grew and they raised a beautiful family. Their story is one of determination, faith, and success. I am proud to have known Bob through my work with Batesville Casket Company.

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