Starks open fifth funeral homePublished 12:30pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Tom Starks, owner of Starks Family Funeral Homes, including Yazel-Clark Chapel in Dowagiac, Tuesday announced the opening of a fifth location in Berrien Springs.
Heritage Chapel is located at 8747 U.S. 31 in the former Legacy Funeral Home.
Starks was aiming to open the first week of December, but Heritage received its state license last week and has already started receiving calls.
“We’re being pushed to open sooner,” he said Tuesday.
The location has been updated and is single-floor handicap accessible, with wi-fi.
Starks said it’s not uncommon for people to bring in laptops so they can communicate with remote relatives or even Skype while making arrangements.
Licensed funeral director Jason Storm has been named manager of the new location.
A lifelong resident of Southwest Michigan who grew up in St. Joseph, he is married to Rachael and has been with Starks Family Funeral Homes since 2003.
“All members of our staff are committed to be responsible and honest and to serve with sensitivity and compassion. The community support toward the Starks family opening the new location has been overwhelming,” Starks said, “and we are proud to be able to serve the Berrien Springs community once again. The Starks family has a past history in Berrien Springs when they were affiliated with McLauchlin Funeral Home in the 1970s.”
Starks will continue working with families who lost their pre-arrangement funds with Legacy Funeral Home.
All Starks Family Funeral Homes are “family owned,” and some have been family owned since the 1800s.
Starks owns funeral homes in St. Joseph (Starks and Menchinger Chapel), Dowagiac (Yazel and Clark Chapel), New Buffalo (Sommerfeld Chapel) and Buchanan (Swem Chapel).
“At all locations, whether a burial or a cremation, we custom-design services as a ‘celebration of life.’ Our goal is to provide outstanding service and a well-trained and
motivated workforce,” said Starks, who has been around the industry his entire life.
Starks spent a few years in Texas, returning to St. Joseph in 1983.
Berrien Springs also has Allred Funeral Home, which Edwardsburg funeral director Paul Mayhew owned in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
Former Legacy Family Funeral Services owner Matthew Purchase was sentenced in Berrien County Trial Court May 2, 2011, to 60 to 240 months in prison for attempted racketeering and criminal enterprising and 12 to 60 months for attempted embezzlement of more than $20,000. Eighty-two victims were identified in his case.
Purchase was arrested in August 2010 on 15 felony charges after a preliminary audit of his Berrien Springs funeral home showed he may have embezzled hundred of thousands of dollars from customers who pre-planned services.
Had Purchase produced $268,509 owed to victims by sentencing, he would have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to two charges and instead plead guilty to two counts of embezzlement, one a five-year felony and the other a 10-year felony.