At McCowen & Secord 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.
Steve McCowenLife Story 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 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.
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.”