Almost 110 years ago, on a warm spring day in 1897, a Muskegon police officer named Del Clark walked into the little paint and art supply store on Jefferson Street downtown, right across from City Hall. Officer Clark wanted to talk to the store's owner, a young man who happened to be his nephew, Tiede Clock.
You see, Muskegon was a booming community in those days, and like all growing cities, the town needed an undertaker. Officer Clark thought the 23-year-old Tiede would be perfect for the job. So with nothing more than $125 and his youthful enthusiasm, Tiede took the job, starting what would become Clock Funeral Home.
Tiede Clock, whose name was the Americanized version of the Dutch name VanderKlock, started his undertaking business out of the back of that little Clock's Art Store, and both businesses were run out of four different locations over the next 23 years. But in 1920, the art business no longer, Tiede realized the funeral industry was his true calling, and officially named his business Clock Funeral Home. A building designed specifically for funeral service was built at the corner of Sanford St. and Grand Avenue - where it remains to this day. The Muskegon community responded well to the Clock family, electing Tiede Muskegon's first coroner, a position he held for 21 years. But Tiede didn't do it alone. His two sons, Theodore G. and Thomas C., assisted in the business after graduating from Mortuary School, making Tiede's career choice all the more rewarding for him.
Over the next 40 years, there were many remodelings, expansions and improvements to the facility. In 1928, a Chapel was added, complete with a custom-built pipe organ, along with new preparation facilities and an elevator - rare for a business of its size in those days. During the 40s, new garages and additional visitation rooms were built. Tiede retired in 1944 and Thomas Clock, Sr., took over management. The second generation of Clocks had come into its own. Sadly, Theodore "Ted" Clock died in a boating accident just a year later, in 1945.
The third generation of the Clock family entered the business in 1952, when Thomas C. Clock, Jr., and Wayne A. Clock graduated from Mortuary School. Four years later, Jack Clock also graduated and joined his brothers in the firm. In 1960 a new, permanent, 275-seat chapel with pews and a family room was added, along with construction of a parking lot and a new garage. Jack died in 1966 after a long battle with cancer.
In 1971, growth extended north to Whitehall, when two funeral homes were purchased and consolidated on South Mears Avenue to become Clock Funeral Home of White Lake. Thomas Clock, Jr. and his son, Thomas III, run that firm to this day, but it is now a separate corporation apart from the Clock Life Story Funeral Homes.
In 1984, Dale Clock, Wayne's son, became the fourth generation of Clocks to join the family business. In 1986, expansion continued to Fruitport, when Wiswell Funeral Home was purchased and the name was changed to Clock Funeral Home. Ken Gowell, a Fruitport native and funeral director with Clock since 1974, currently manages the Fruitport branch. In 1990, another major remodel and expansion took place at the Muskegon funeral home. The Nolen property next door, which included a house and dentist office, was purchased and new construction connected those buildings to the existing funeral home. New visitation rooms were built and the casket selection room and arrangement office were moved to the main floor to make everything handicap accessible. The Nolen house was turned into The Clock Family Center for receptions after the funeral and the dentist office were remodeled into office spaces for the funeral directors plus the new Aftercare and Pre-arrangement departments.
In 1995, expansion continued south to Grand Haven, with the construction of a new funeral home located on the corner of 168th Ave. and Lincoln St. in Grand Haven Township, just one block west of US-31. The 6,500-square-foot building is all on one level and completely handicap accessible. Beautifully decorated, the facility includes two spacious visitation rooms, Chapel, offices, lounge, preparation room, casket and cremation selection rooms, as well as parking for more than 100 cars. Doug Peterson, a Muskegon native, manages that branch.
In 1999, the entire casket selection room and arrangement office area in Muskegon was completely remodeled and transformed into "The Tribute Store," a total funeral merchandise retail store, the first of its kind in the country.
Then, in December of 2005, the Clock Funeral Homes became part of the Life Story Network®, joining a network of like-minded funeral homes across the Midwest. Now, over a century after Tiede Clock started his business in the back of an art store, the Clock Life Story Funeral Homes are helping families more than ever. Today the Clock family continues to help others, through meaningful, relevant funeral services, and by keeping memories alive for future generations.
Just like Tiede.