At Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren Funeral Homes (also known as Life Story Funeral Homes) we are proud to trace our roots back to the early 1920’s. Just like previous generations we strive every day to exceed the needs and expectations of the families and communities we serve.
We are an independently owned and operated group of funeral homes who have a strong desire to provide meaningful ways to honor a life lived. Our focus is on writing life stories that will be passed down from generation to generation as well as shared with co-workers, friends, and family. Secondly, we are committed to providing worthwhile ways for people to express themselves and share lives lived through the World Wide Web, printed materials, video, and at funerals and memorial services.
Together, the story and the memories sustain the lives of loved ones, enriching family and friends while fostering an appreciation of life and the connections we all have, one to another. Our promise is to give people the support and tools they need to preserve memories and celebrate lives.
Herb AyresLife Story Funeral Director
As a young man growing up between the small communities of Tecumseh and Clinton, Herb Ayres was willing to try almost anything. At Clinton High School, Herb lettered in golf, basketball, and football. He was also the editor of the school newspaper, president of the student council, and a member of the symphonic and jazz bands. Although he was active in all these things, it was golf that became Herb's real passion. He was intrigued by the game, which taught him great mental discipline. Plus, the sport allowed him to spend time with his father, who had already turned 40 when Herb was born.
After graduating high school in 1970, Herb accepted a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering. Meanwhile, he began working part-time in a funeral home owned by a friend of the family. Herb liked the job; so much so, in fact, that he soon decided it was the field he wanted to pursue. He graduated from Western Michigan University in 1974 and Wayne State University in 1976. By 1977, Herb had secured a position as a funeral director with the firm belonging to Bob Gren. Bob admitted to Herb that he was looking for someone to take over for him, and Herb turned out to be the perfect successor. Bob integrated Herb into the business, serving as his most valued mentor. True to his word, Bob sold the business to Herb as his health began to decline in the following years. Bob eventually passed away, but Herb would always remember his generosity and guidance.
Herb's approach when meeting with grieving families has been largely shaped by Bob Gren, though Herb's own encounters with death have influenced him as well. By the time he turned 45, Herb had lost many close relatives. This included his wife Pam, who had worked closely with her husband and had been instrumental in making the Portage chapel of Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren a reality. As difficult as these losses were, they allowed Herb to better help people who were going through similar circumstances. He developed a personal mission when working with families, which was simply to engage them as friends.
The addition of Life Story Network® to RDMG has helped Herb accomplish his mission. "Life Story Network® has given me the tools," he says, "to allow families to reach into their hearts and say and do things previously unsaid and undone - saying goodbye without regrets." With LSN, Herb is able to provide service that not only meets, but exceeds every family's expectations.
Jim BauschkeLife Story Funeral Director
Jim’s career in funeral service began during college when he worked summers at Calvin Funeral Home in South Haven, MI, his hometown. Jim quickly found satisfaction in his work there, helping families honor the lives of their loved ones. After graduating from Indiana College of Mortuary Science and Western Michigan University Jim served in the United States Army at the U.S. Army Mortuary and Central Identification Lab in Saigon, Vietnam.
After his military service Jim began a career with the Batesville Casket Company, a division of Hillenbrand Industries in Batesville, IN. During his career with Batesville Jim worked with funeral homes and funeral directors all around the country primarily, though, in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Indiana, and Michigan. In 2001 Jim was involved in a special Batesville project—the Funeral of the Future. This work brought Jim closer to families again and to the important feelings they have when a loved one dies.
With this in mind Jim decided to become part of a new company in Kalamazoo called Life Story Network® and also to be a funeral director at Life Story Funeral Homes® in Kalamazoo. This allowed Jim to pursue his new-found passion: moving the focus of funeral service from the death that occurred to the life that was lived. At a Life Story Funeral Home the focus is on the family, the memories of their loved one, and keeping those memories alive; Life Story Network is the company that makes all of that happen for Life Story Funeral Homes across the country.
Life Story Network® is leading a transformation in the funeral service profession: "The Life Story Experience™ is a funeral profession innovation that changes the way people remember the ones they love. Life Story Funeral Homes are not about burial, cremation, caskets, or urns. They are about the human heart." Jim is excited about the work he does because it allows him to help people in a way funeral service was never able to do before.
Jim is married to the former Jane Arkins from South Haven. They enjoy walking the trails in Kalamazoo’s Parkview Hills where they live, spending time with their sons and their granddaughter, attending cultural events in Kalamazoo, as well as having quiet evenings at home.
Jim likes to say, “Every life has a story waiting to be written down and shared. Life Story Funeral Homes write that story for you. Your story is the very thing that connects you to those who came before and those who will come after you.” Along with that Jim says, “The greatest memorial is to be remembered by having not just your birth date and death date but your story passed on from generation to generation. Sharing the story at the funeral and preserving it in print, film, and on the web is how we remember forever and pass down the laughter, the struggles, and the joys of how we became who we are today.”
Jon DurhamLife Story Funeral Director
Having been born into a family of funeral professionals, Jon Durham had never planned to be a funeral director himself. His father, Sheldon Durham, had been a licensed funeral director since 1955. The family lived above the Rupert-Durham funeral home in Vicksburg, where as a young man Jon would carry funeral flowers, set up chairs, and clean the chapel for forthcoming services.
By the time Jon graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1981, he knew he would continue with his education; the problem, however, was deciding on a course of study. Since he had been so close to the funeral profession as a child, Jon was anxious to explore another career. He decided to begin Pre-Med coursework at Kalamazoo College. With only a vague ambition in the medical field, Jon was heavily influenced to go in another direction following a significant death in his family.
When Jon's grandmother, Effie Rupert, passed away, the experience of her death gave Jon new insight into his father's responsibilities as a funeral director. For the first time, Jon became very emotionally invested in a funeral and could appreciate his father's critical role in making the event come together. This experience ended up putting Jon's life in a new direction. He transferred to the University of Minnesota in the spring of 1983, where he studied Mortuary Science. He graduated in 1985, returning to Vicksburg later the same year to begin working with his father.
As a funeral director, Jon has done his utmost to give every family the most fulfilling experience possible. His sincere and straight-forward manner has been able to put families at ease, allowing Jon to communicate with them effectively. Creating this intimate connection with families has given Jon the chance to better understand their emotional needs.
Today, Jon's work intently focuses on implementing what he has learned. Life Story Network® has become his new vehicle for bringing families a heightened level of service. He has passionately nurtured the company from its inception, and continues to guide it today.
Steve McCowenLife Story Funeral Director
Family has always been a principal part of the McCowen household. For Steve, it all began in Jackson, MI where he was born and raised, along with his younger brother Jeff. Steve’s grandparents, who lived in Kalamazoo, were his strongest influences. He has many fond memories of spending time with them as a kid, especially at Milham Park with its sprawling trees and winding creek.
During high school Steve’s dad recommended him for a position at a funeral home—Steve says it was his dad’s way of getting him out of the house for the summer. It did exactly that—and more, 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. So, upon graduating from Jackson’s Lumen Christi High School in 1990, he spent the next two years at Ferris State University, then transferred to Xavier University to attend the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.
Steve has been with the Life Story Funeral Homes in Vicksburg, Portage, and Plainwell since 2003. He and his family live in the Indian Lake area of Vicksburg. Steve has three children: Mackenzie, Joey, and Stephen.
Besides his work at the funeral homes, Steve is active in the Vicksburg community. He is president of the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce, a trustee of the Vicksburg Community School Foundation, works with the Vicksburg Little League and Rocket Football program, and serves on the board of directors of Kairos Dwelling. Steve believes that giving back to your community is very important, and he leads by example.
Steve loves his job and his community, but, just as in childhood, the McCowen household revolves around family. Steve enjoys spending his free time with his children because, he says, “They are the single most important part of my life.”
Morgan MalyszkoLife Story Funeral Director
Morgan Malyszko is a true All-American Girl. Look at the Life Panel photos above; that’s Morgan. She loves life—meaning family, friends, animals, camping, and strawberries too! She is the daughter of Larry and Margaret Malyszko. Unfortunately, her father died in 1987 when Morgan was a girl. After his passing, Morgan, her brother John, and their mother spent some of her childhood in Roswell, New Mexico, later moving back to Michigan, settling in Sterling Heights, to be closer to family.
Morgan excelled in high school in Sterling Heights and as an All-American girl would naturally do, she took it all in great stride making the most of every experience. Her days were filled with band, sports, and great friends. Of course, she studied hard too, to prepare for college. Band was her favorite, though, as well as all the classes that go with it. Yes, Morgan was a band-geek! She also ran track and cross-country but there was no doubt about her intention to make music her major in college.
Morgan always knew she had an underlying desire to help people. It was a desire rooted deep within her and it grew to become her passion. In spite of her love for music she followed this burning desire in college and it led her to the world of social work. In 2003 Morgan graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University’s distinguished School of Social Work. Filled with excitement, she was anxious now to fulfill her desire to “help people in any way possible”.
Longing for something more, however, Morgan was led to thinking about helping people at one of the most difficult times of their lives, the loss of a loved one. After some praying about this, she became serious about pursuing a career in funeral service and attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL. In 2010 Morgan became a Licensed Funeral Director, having served her apprenticeship and being certified by the State and National Exam Boards.
Morgan and her long-time boyfriend, Matt, live in Kalamazoo, along with their two cats, Harley and Toby (25lbs!). Morgan says Toby’s not fat - he’s “big boned!” Matt is a SSgt for the US Army and is permanently stationed at Ft. Custer. Morgan and Matt like hiking and camping in northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And, of course, they like visiting family from the east side of Michigan, especially for cookouts and for the holidays. Morgan knows laughter is good for the soul and when the family’s all together she takes pleasure in making everyone laugh, often with her sarcastic sense of humor.
She has a big heart, an ear for listening, and a deep desire to do anything she can to help people get to a better place in their lives. Morgan does this not only through her regular work but also through her volunteer work. She volunteers with Heartland Hospice of Southwest Michigan as a “friendly visitor” and with the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue, helping rescue animals and find them loving fur-ever homes.
Morgan happily joined the Life Story team in June of 2016. She knows more and more families today want funerals to focus on the story of the life that was lived. Morgan knows, too, the healing power of writing that story so it can be shared at the funeral and passed on from generation to generation. Morgan is committed to helping families keep the stories and memories of their loved ones alive and is proud to be a funeral director at Life Story Funeral Homes—RDMG. Next time you are at the funeral home in Plainwell, Portage or Vicksburg, take a minute to meet Morgan.
Tim SecordLife Story 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.