Faces in the Crowd: Larry Wyman Jr.

November 21, 2018

By Gene Bodnar

In last week’s “Faces in the Crowd,” I interviewed Mary Ann Shurlow. She highly recommended that I interview Larry Wyman Jr., the owner of the Stephenson-

Larry Wyman Jr.

Larry Wyman Jr.

Wyman Funeral Home located at 1005 North McEwan Street in Clare. I contacted him via Facebook, then by telephone, and he agreed to an interview.

Larry Wyman, Jr. was born in 1957 in Niles, Michigan. His father managed a funeral home and ambulance service in Grand Rapids. Larry attended public school from Kindergarten through Sixth grade, then private schools from the Seventh grade on, graduating from Grand Rapids South Christian School in 1975.

During summers, Larry worked picking and packaging produce on “muck farms.” Such land is referred to as “muck” because it has high rate of fertility, being highly organic, black soil that produces some of the best-tasting vegetables in the world.

Larry spent part of one year attending Grand Rapids Community College.

In August of 1975, the Stephenson/Doherty Funeral Home in Clare went up for sale, and Larry’s father purchased it. The home has a long history. Originally, Carl Stephenson purchased the stately home that was built in 1891 from William Goodman, a banker and hardware dealer, and restored it to its former elegance, opening it as the Stephenson Funeral Home. The firm merged in 1968 with the Doherty Funeral Home, established over 75 years before. When Larry Wyman Sr. purchased it, it became known as the Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home in 1976 – the same year the family moved to Clare.

In 1976, Larry worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for an ambulance company in Clare. Soon, his title was upgraded to Paramedic. Later, he became a Paramedic Instructor/Coordinator, being certified through the State of Michigan. He taught paramedics for a few years. Then he advanced to Personnel Director for the Clare County Emergency Medical Service. For a time, he was the Supervisor of Mobile Medical Response. He says he worked in the medical emergency capacity off-and-on for about 25 years, while still an active mortician.

Also in 1976, Larry married his wife Carey. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Emily was born in 1982, became a nurse and passed away at the age of 23. Nicholas was born in 1990 and is currently a part owner in the Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home.

Larry acquired an Associate Degree from Mid-Michigan College. Then he attended Wayne State University, where he received a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree with a major in Mortuary Management. In 1979, Larry Jr. joined his father as a licensed mortician.

Before the Clare Lions Club ceased to exist, Larry was a highly active member, having held nearly every office in the group. Members of the club were actively interested in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the community, encouraging discussion on all matters of public interest, including such vital subjects as diabetes education.

Larry is a member of the Clare Cemetery Advisory Board, which is comprised of a five-member board that advises the City Commission on matters related to the operation and management of the Cherry Grove Cemetery and has established a set of rules and regulations for the cemetery.

Larry is also a member of the City of Clare Tree Board. On any property under the control of the City of Clare, the planting, trimming, or removal of a tree, shrub or vine requires a permit from the Director of Public Works. There is no charge for the permit. This is required for the safety of all people involved. The City will verify this by determining if danger lurks below the surface where the proposed tree exists, such as water lines, gas lines, or other conduit.

Larry is an active member of the Clare United Methodist Church. He chaired its Childcare Center Building Committee, which was responsible for building the structure, and he is on the church’s Leadership Board. He loves to take part in its annual “Beast Feast” held every year in mid-January. It consists of gourmet meals made from such animals as deer, elk, geese, and so forth. He must be one of its top chefs.

In the 1990s and 2000s, he joined a Provision Division group created by Browns Corners Church. Its aim was to provide needy homes with new roofs. The group found companies that donated roofing materials to such homes, and the group installed new roofs free of charge. Larry has consistently found ways to give to the community.

In 1998, Larry Jr. purchased the funeral home from his father. As a funeral director, he is both a caregiver and an administrator. In his administrative duties, he makes the arrangements for transportation of the body, completes all necessary paperwork, and implements the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. As a caregiver, he is a listener, advisor and supporter. He has experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. He is trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. He also links survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.

The funeral home was designed to be unlike other funeral homes. A one-of-a-kind place, the public is invited to visit their warm and comfortable offices and see for themselves how they are revolutionizing the way you think about funeral services.

On their website, there is a page that answers a host of questions you may have about funerals, from personalizing a funeral to the expenses involved, from embalming to cremation, from perpetual care to mausoleums. I highly recommend that you read it, for it is very informative and even educational.

Larry also offers services for pets. As he says, “Pets are wonderfully agreeable friends. They ask so little of us, and give so much love in return… caring for their physical remains can be heart-wrenching.” He can arrange a cremation, having your pet’s cremated remains returned in an urn of your choice.

Larry can also provide special deeply meaningful and honoring ceremonies for veterans.

In 2005, construction began on the new Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home, Farwell Chapel. The new chapel sits on land once occupied by the Farwell Railroad Depot. Opened in the summer of 2006, the home now services families in greater Clare, Farwell, Lake and Lake George.

I asked Larry what he liked to do in his spare time. He calls himself “a trout fishing/fly fishing addict.” Naturally, he ties his own flies. He did a lot of fishing with his wife in Alaska this past summer. Using their camper on the trip, he said it was a getaway; a see-it-all, do-it-all adventure that they both enjoyed immensely.
Larry also loves to hunt, especially wild pheasant and grouse. He owns a bird dog that joins him on his hunts. He has hunted in North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Montana. He even discussed a few mouth-watering recipes with me.

At the close of this interview, I must say that I was impressed with Larry Wyman Jr. He expressed a few of his innermost feelings about being a funeral director. I found the following “A Funeral Director’s Prayer” on the internet, and I’m already certain that God has answered it favorably for Larry:

“Lord, give me the patience needed to service everyone as my own; the wisdom to understand other’s feelings; the knowledge to learn as well as to instruct; the kindness to treat everyone equally at all times; the strength to endure long hours and hard work; the desire to serve others as I would my own family; the humility to accept words of thanks and praise; the compassion to touch another’s soul; the pride and the right to smile when I have served a family well; and Lord, most importantly the right to shed an honest tear when my heart is touched; Lord, make me thankful that I am a Funeral Director.” Amen.

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