Almost 125 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 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. After 24 years that facility was sold to Muskegon Community College to be remodeled into an extension campus.
In 2005 the Clock family took over the operation of Phoenix Crematory, a new facility in Muskegon. Dale’s wife Jodi and her son Brett Wright took charge of the operation and soon added additional equipment to handle pet cremations. Jodi had started Clock Timeless Pets during those early years and soon grew that business to be the largest pet cremation service on the lakeshore. Clock’s also formed a low-cost simple cremation service to better serve that segment of the market. Within 5 years Phoenix Crematory Services was serving over 150 families a year.
In 2014 after a burst pipe caused extensive water damage to the Fruitport Funeral Home that facility was remodeled and repurposed as a Life Event Center. Renamed Clock’s Sunset Celebration Center the open casual facility features a kitchen, coffee bar, media center, flat screen TV’s and room for 100 people. Still capable of handling visitations and funerals the facility is now also a perfect place for Celebrations of Life, birthday parties, open houses, baby showers and many other events.
After serving the Muskegon area for over 120 years Clock’s continues to innovate and adapt to the changing West Michigan culture. Providing the best products and services available while truly caring for the families that continue to call them in their time of need.