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. 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.
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.
Dale ClockLife Story Funeral Director / Owner
Never mind the name. Never mind the family. Dale Clock was still born to be a funeral director at Clock Life Story Funeral Homes.
Sure, wanting to follow in the family business was a factor, but for Dale Clock, the most important thing was the chance to help people carry on their own family traditions, their own memories. It could only be considered a calling for him. And it was a calling he couldn't ignore, not from college, not even from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Dale Clock was born Sept. 28, 1957 in Muskegon, the fourth generation of Clocks in the area (being from good Dutch stock, the name was derived from Vanderklok). Dale has three sisters, Terri, two years his elder, Kay, three years younger and Ann, also three years his junior. As a child Dale always had a voracious appetite to learn new things. He enjoyed swimming, skiing (both snow and water), and singing. His summers were mostly spent at the family's cottage on Big Blue Lake, and he attended camp every year and also worked at Y Camp for several summers as a junior counselor and swim instructor. He began piano lessons at the age of 8, and had a fondness for school and the many activities it offered.
Dale was co-captain of the swim team at Muskegon High School, played on the tennis team, sang in two different choirs, a barbershop quartet, and played piano in a four-piece combo he started! For all his efforts, he was awarded a full-ride scholarship by the United States Navy to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., after graduating from Muskegon High in 1975.
Dale loved Northwestern, and stayed active there, too. He became a member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, sang in the university chorus and was a performer in the Waa-Mu Show, an annual student musical and comedy review. Dale graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in Industrial Engineering in 1979, and then shipped off to fulfill his commitment to the Navy over the next five years. Dale was based in San Diego, Calif., stationed for 2 1/2 years on the USS Ranger aircraft carrier, with another 2 ½ years on the USS Cleveland, an amphibious assault ship. Dale made three different deployments during his tenure, visiting Africa, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand, Japan and Korea.
But being on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific can give a man time for introspection, and Dale couldn't ignore his life's mission. So, when he returned to the mainland (and dry land), he enrolled in Worsham College of Mortuary Science, graduating in 1986.
But somehow, he always knew he'd return home. Dale started working at the family funeral home when he was in Jr. High, after all, washing cars and cutting the grass. During high school and college he moved up to delivering flowers, running errands and working the parking lot. It was during college that he began to realize that he wanted to keep the family tradition alive and eventually return to Muskegon to join the family firm.
For Dale, it was a completion of a family circle four generations in the making.
"My great grandfather started the firm in 1897," Dale explains. "My father and grandfather never placed any pressure on me to choose this as my career. But I always had a great sense of respect and pride for their position in the community and the trust that people placed in them. My inner voice told me that it was important to carry on a wonderful tradition. Plus, I wanted to be a respected businessman and leader in the community, just like my forefathers."
There's little question about that now. Dale is considered by all who know him to be an all-around nice guy, who always has a hard time saying "no." He's a caring, fun-loving and creative man, as dedicated and reliable as they come. All these fine traits translate into the consummate funeral professional.
"It's my job to take care of people, no matter what their need is," Dale explains, "as they travel through these very difficult days, and help them create a service that is right for them and one that celebrates the life of the loved one that they have lost."
Today Dale has gained much. He lives in Muskegon with his wife, business partner and best friend, Jodi, as well as teenage daughter Kellie, who attends Mona Shores High School. In his free time he is involved with the Muskegon Civic Theatre, where he has served on the board for 10 years and tries to perform in one production each year. He also attends Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, where he also sings in the choir and plays piano. But Dale doesn't stop there. He also likes to golf, snow ski, and do home repair and building projects, as well as travel. In the summer, he and his family spend time at their cottage in South Haven.
But it's here in Muskegon that holds his heart, where he knows he can do the most good. That's Dale's true passion, helping people cope with the grief of loss, in any way he can.
"As I have matured in my role and observed the thousands of families that have called on us, I have come to understand the vital importance of human contact, and the gathering of people for support during tough times," Dale says. "It is the human spirit that needs to be fed. And a good funeral can help feed that spirit."
And feeding - and healing - the spirit is what the Life Story Network is all about, Dale says.
"It helps me help my families tell their stories," Dale explains, "in ways they can't imagine during their days of grief. It will help me put a tear in their eye, some warmth in their heart, a lump in their throat, and a smile on their face. Because stories are what life is all about."
And for Dale Clock, and those who know him, the story just keeps getting better.
Jodi ClockLife Story Funeral Director / Manager
Jodi Clock knew it was time to re-prioritize her life.
She had spent the last 15 years traveling for her position of training and sales within the funeral industry, but when she spent 42 out of 52 weeks with more time waiting in an airport, rather than interfacing with her family or the customers, she could just feel the adverse affect it was having on her.
"I was getting burned out," Jodi recalls. "I knew it was time to practice what I preached, and take control of my personal and professional life."
So she did.
Jodi went to work with Clock Funeral Homes, a move that took care of both sides of her spectrum, professionally and personally. Having known Dale Clock for years through the funeral industry circles, the two finally became partners in business and life, and were married.
"I contracted with Clock Funeral Home. Dale, my personal, and professional life intertwined. The rest is history," Jodi recalls.
But the two had plenty of history between them before getting married. Jodi had known Dale since 1988, when he was a client of hers while with Forethought, working in pre-need insurance sales.
Then in 2003, "both of our lives on a personal level fell apart," Jodi says. "Our paths re-crossed at a convention, and now we're partners in business - and more importantly - life."
Today, Jodi serves as Director of Advance Funeral Planning and Transitional Care at Clock Life Story Funeral Homes, as well as President of Clock Timeless Pets, positions she was almost born to do.
Jodi was born the youngest of three daughters in Minneapolis, Minn., yet was primarily raised in Batesville, Ind., the hometown of the Batesville Casket Co., where her dad, Charles Perkins, was busy climbing the corporate ladder. Jodi's sisters were much older, Sharon by 14 years and Joanie 22 years her senior, so Jodi was raised almost as an only child. She filled her days the way most happy young girls do, playing in the pool for hours, ice skating, or just playing outside with friends. Eventually, the Perkins household moved up to Battle Creek, Mich., where Jodi graduated from Battle Creek Lakeview High School in 1979, where she was involved in just about everything. Cheerleading, ballet, jazz, acrobatics, diving, theater ... you name it. She was interested in everything.
After graduating, Jodi earned Associate's degrees from Kellogg Community College. She attended Western Michigan, then finished her undergrad degree at Spring Arbor University. She went on to earn her Master's degree in Organizational Development from Spring Arbor University, as well. Then it was time to find her place in the world.
Yet despite her father's success with Batesville, Jodi's interests and skills seemed to be in the insurance and data processing fields. Jodi actually started out as an actuarial student. ("Go figure," she quips). Her actuarial skills led her to apply for a position with a Batesville subsidiary, Forethought. While she didn't get that position, she did impress enough to earn a spot working with funeral directors and training them about pre-need insurance. One of those funeral directors was - you guessed it - Dale Clock.
Her life and her career now full-circle, Jodi has channeled her passion into helping people cope with their grief. Having lost both of her parents when she was a young age (her mother at 22, her father six years later), she understands the importance of the healing process - which she says is different for everyone.
"No two families are alike," Jodi says. "I believe people don't want to be told how to grieve, that it's a very personal thing. I believe that they want a safe place to begin their journey and tell their story and that is one of the many things we can do. Sometimes they just need permission."
Jodi doesn't need permission to enjoy her life today. After years of tumult, travel and tribulation, she has finally found a healthy balance in her personal and professional life. Today she enjoys her rewarding work with Clock Life Story Funeral Homes, as well as her life with new husband Dale. The two reside in Muskegon, with Dale's daughter Kellie, their dogs Max (a sheltie) and Mac (a Corgie), and cats Bonnie (a gray and white tiger) and Tink (a flame point Siamese). Jodi's son, Brett Wright, is a senior at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
While they spend most of their time in Muskegon, the Clocks love to escape to their cottage in South Haven (or "South Heaven" as Jodi calls it). There they love to walk the beach or downtown, going golfing or out to dinner. "We work and play together and there never is enough hours in the day to do the things we like to do," Jodi says.
But for a woman as energetic, determined and focused as Jodi (as well as "high-strung, when it's time to work," she says), there never would be enough hours in the day. She works tirelessly to help people ease the pain of grieving, something she is exceptionally good at through the Life Story Network.
"People expect the highest level of professionalism from us," Jodi says. "They want to know that everything is taken care of and it reflects their loved one, not the 'cookie-cutter funeral.' Each of our funerals reflects the life lived. They're meaningful and relevant."
Just like Jodi.