South Haven’s Filbrandt Family Funeral Home Reunites With Starks Family Ops

A relationship between two major families in the Southwest Michigan funeral business that dates back several decades becomes a formal one again as the two reunite for the future.

After more than two decades of serving the families of the South Haven area, Filbrandt Family Funeral Home, at 1076 S. Bailey Avenue, is reuniting with Starks Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Services of St. Joseph. The merger, announced by Tom Starks as owner and president was formalized yesterday, Tuesday, June 15th.

Jeff Filbrandt, owner and funeral director in South Haven says, “When we decided to step back from the day-to-day operation of the funeral home, we wanted to transition our business to someone that will serve our families in South Haven much the same way we do presently,” and adds, “The Starks are very professional, caring and have a desire and passion to serve. Their family is very community-minded and has a heart for South Haven.”

Tom says the relationship with the two funeral home families goes back decades, noting, “Jeff apprenticed as a funeral director with us in 1984,” and adds, “I was mentored by Filbrandt’s senior funeral director, Ralph Frost.” Starks goes on to tell us, “Before Jeff opened this facility in 2000, our family served in South Haven as Calvin, Starks & Frost Funeral Home. This reunion is a homecoming, and we are excited to work side-by-side with Jeff, Ralph and their staff.”

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Tom says South Haven families will see familiar faces at the Filbrandt Chapel, including Jeff, Ralph and DyLan Ridley as they continue to serve as funeral directors alongside Tom and his two daughters, co-owners Laura and Olivia Starks.

Starks points out, “During the transition, we will take time to learn from each other which is something we’ve done for decades,” and adds, “We will share our best practices to make sure families in South Haven are always well cared for by our families.”

Jeff notes he feels very positive about his decision but added that he has much to be grateful for as he reflects on his years in South Haven, saying, “I want to thank my family for all of the sacrifices they made to help me lead a small town funeral home. It is a 24/7 commitment. I am grateful to all of my co-workers who have been so gracious in serving the families here, and I want to thank the South Haven community for their support, encouragement and guidance as we helped families through difficult times.”

As the ownership transition moves forward, Tom reports a common concern is how pre-arrangements will be transferred, and says rest assured that pre-planned funerals with Filbrandt Family Funeral Home will be honored, but he encourages anyone with pre-arrangements to meet with the staff to make sure the plans still meet their needs.

Another assurance Tom shared is that the Starks family has its own crematorium so that loved ones never leave the care of the Starks staff, promising, “We treat each person with the highest respect at all times.”

Tom says the Filbrandt Chapel staff will continue to be involved in the community and that the funeral home will share its resources with events and nonprofits that are valued by the people of South Haven, adding, “We are part of this community and taking care of each other is integral to who we are as a family and as a business.”

Starks Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Services has served Southwest Michigan for more than six decades. They provide a range of services to help families and friends celebrate the life of their loved ones including traditional funerals, memorials, veterans services, burial services and a crematorium. For more information, feel free to contact or 269-556-9450.

In the photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market are, (from left to right) Annie and Jeff Filbrandt, Olivia Starks, Ralph Frost, Laura Starks and Tom Starks.