History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
When we sit down with a family, we have just one goal: to create a fitting, memorable and affordable service for their loved one. Together, we explore the wide variety of services and products available, as well as a wealth of creative ideas and suggestions.
Together, we'll design a memorial or funeral service that suits their needs now, and in the future. Families who come to us know that years from now, they will have deep peace-of-mind because in coming to us, they've done their best to honor their loved one.
The Nie Family Funeral Home tradition began when Doug and Sandi Nie purchased the Fontana Funeral Home from John and Dorothy Fontana in 1979. Doug and Sandi operated the funeral home while raising their seven children in the living quarters above the funeral home. As the Nie family grew the business they were able to add staff to assist them in their goal of providing a personalized type of service to the families of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti from the Carpenter Road location in Pittsfield Twp.
Doug and Sandi continued to serve the community and add to their staff including their son, Doug II, or Dutch as he would become to be known, in 1990 after returning from serving with the US Air Force for eight years. Doug, Sandi and Dutch continued to explore and implement the latest in technology and innovations in funeral service while continuing to remain true to their mission of providing personal funeral services to the families they served.
In 2000, Doug and Sandi started to enjoy the fruits of their labors and began wintering in Florida, while entrusting the day to day business to Dutch and Todd Winter, who continue the tradition of the Nie Family level of care for the families we serve.
As society has witnessed a change in funeral services from traditional rituals that were preformed out of habit, to today’s emphasis of Personalized Services, the Nie Family Funeral Home has not only kept up, but actually are implementing and incorporating technology to its fullest levels in a respectful and dignified way. We are able to capture and preserve the stories of the lives that were lived and present them in a meaningful way so everyone who is affected by the loss can truly participate in the services.
As the Nie Family Funeral Home tradition continues into its third generation our mission of “Our Family Serving Your Family” also continues with the additional mindset that “We don’t personalize a funeral service…We make it Personal.”
Our Valued Staff
Douglas R. Nie, Director Emeritus
Doug and his twin sister were the oldest of four children born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Doug’s first opportunity to work in a funeral home was while attending Clarion State College, in Pennsylvania, He began working part-time for a firm and continued with this position until 1959, when his family moved back to Michigan. He continued his education at Flint Junior College, after his return and worked in another local funeral home in Flint.
In 1963 Doug earned his degree from the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science, and started working as a staff director at a few firms around Michigan. He realized he would like to own his own firm and in 1979 his dream came true when he purchased the Fontana Funeral Home in Ann Arbor and began living there with his wife and family. By that time, he and Sandi had five of their seven children still living at home, all of whom worked to maintain the family business.
Always community minded, Doug began to be active in the Ann Arbor Community, joining (among other things) the Ann Arbor Western Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He has served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association and was chairman of the Association Health Insurance Committee for 14 years. All of these experiences allowed Doug to give back to both the community and the profession that he loves.
Doug’s 25 years of serving the families of Washtenaw County has passed all too quickly, as often happens when one is passionate about his profession. He was especially blessed to have his son, Dutch, share in his same passion. Dutch became a director at the funeral home in 1990 and will be able to continue his father’s mission for many years to come.
When he is not working, Doug and his wife Sandi love to travel. Together they own a motor home that they take all over the United States. They have also taken many motorcycle trips to Florida, Arkansas, and Maine, among other places. They moved out of the funeral home in 1992 to have more room for their 19 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Douglas R. 'Dutch' Nie II, President/Manager
Dutch grew up as the only boy in a family of seven children. He and his sisters lived above their parents funeral home in Ann Arbor, where Dutch would work after school and during summer vacation. His chores included mowing the lawn, washing cars, assisting with the parking of funeral processions, and working at visitations.
After graduation from Huron High School in 1982 Dutch enlisted in the Air Force and served as a military policeman for 8 years. His duties took him to Japan, Korea, California, and Illinois. Though Dutch was proud to serve his country, he still longed to find a career that really suited him. His time away from home had made him think about his parents, particularly his father. Dutch had seen his father work hard at the career he loved, but he had also seen the long hours and missed holidays that came with it. Despite the negative aspects, Dutch realized the respect and dedication his father had for the profession was something he too possessed. Dutch moved his family (including his wife, Donna, and their young sons) back to Ann Arbor. Here, Dutch began working with his father in 1990 and in 1992 earned his bachelor's degree from Wayne State University.
Dutch found that the funeral profession was not just something he liked, it was something he loved. In the coming years, he looks forward to taking his father’s business even farther. We take our premise of celebrating each life and to preserve the memories of each life lived. We believe that every life lived has a story and that story should be told.
Being a part of the community is something Dutch takes very seriously. Even outside of work, he is an active member of the VFW and the American Legion. He has also served as the president of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor North and District 2 of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association. As important as activities like these are to Dutch, there is one thing he holds above all others: family. His own family includes his wife, Donna, and their four children: Jacob, Jesse, Natalie, and Jordan. “Our time spent together is the best,” Dutch says.
R. Todd Winter, Manager
As the child of a city homicide detective and a registered nurse, R. Todd Winter had an interesting childhood. He and his parents lived in Ann Arbor, though Todd spent much of his time enjoying the city’s surrounding countryside. His early years were filled with outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing. Although these interests were fun to explore in his free time, Todd could not decide for sure what profession he wanted to pursue. By the time he entered Huron High School, however, his friendship with a boy named Dutch Nie foreshadowed his life to come.
After high school, Dutch enlisted in the United States Air Force in June of 1983 (later following his father in becoming a funeral director), while Todd became a respiratory technician. Unfortunately, the threat of layoffs at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital prompted Todd to search for work elsewhere. Dutch and his father offered Todd an apprentice position at their funeral home, which he accepted. He entered funeral service on June 1, 1991, and has not looked back since.
Todd graduated from Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science in 1993 and finished his BS in Mortuary Science in 1997. Though he had no previous experience in the funeral profession, today he cannot imagine himself doing anything else. He especially loves the fact that he is able to live and work in such a diverse area with a multitude of different cultures, beliefs, and practices. Todd loves his job, but his top priority has always been his family.
Ryan H Goss, Director
Ryan was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University. It was while attending school that he began working at the funeral home of a family friend. This exposure led to the decision to attend mortuary college, graduating in 1995 from Mid-America College of Funeral Service.
After graduation Ryan completed his internship in Indianapolis and as well as Bloomington. As a licensed funeral director he worked for funeral homes in Indiana as well as Colorado.
With his move to Michigan, Ryan has joined the Nie Family Funeral Homes to provide advanced planning services to the community, utilizing the skills and knowledge he has acquired throughout his 17 years of experience in the industry.
Ryan lives in Saline.
Molly DeMaison, Director
Molly was born and raised in the quaint town of Oak Harbor, Ohio. After graduating from Oak Harbor High School in 2006 where she was active in theater, tennis and various clubs Molly attended both the University of Findlay and Terra Community College.
During this time she accumulated prerequisite courses prior to entering mortuary school. Molly worked part time for a funeral home in her hometown to gain more knowledge of the field before enrolling.
Molly attended the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Mortuary Science in December 2009.
Being a lifelong wolverines fan, Molly was excited to relocate to Ann Arbor in August 2010 and begin her apprenticeship at the Nie Family Funeral Homes.
Richard M. Wagner, Director Emeritus
During Dick’s early years, sports were very important, both watching as well as participating. Growing up in Ypsilanti, he played basketball, baseball and football. Although sports occupied a lot of Dick’s time, he also had other interests as well. One of these interests, which ultimately proved influential in his choice of a career, was his fascination with funerals.
Dick attended St. John’s Catholic School and while serving as an altar boy he had the opportunity to attend many funerals. He became fascinated, not so much in the death aspect, but rather in the dignity and mystique surrounding the funeral services themselves.
These childhood experiences made an impression on him, and after graduating from Ypsilanti High School in 1947, Dick pursued his degree in Mortuary Science. He attended Michigan State Normal (Eastern Michigan University) and completed his Mortuary Science studies at Wayne State University Department of Mortuary Science in 1951.
Beginning as a staff director and embalmer, Dick eventually owned his own funeral home. In 1983, he sold his interest in the Wagner-Stark Funeral Home to his partner, and worked at the Ypsilanti Savings Bank for a few years.
His return to funeral service came a short time later. Doug Nie asked him if he was interested in returning to the profession that had been his passion since childhood. “I missed serving the families, so it was an easy choice to make” remarked Dick. He has thoroughly enjoyed his second chance to help families during one of the most difficult times in their lives.
Although he is busy with funeral service again, Dick still makes time for his passion for sports, although these days it is primarily as a spectator. On any “football Saturday” you can find Dick in his season seats in the “Big House” watching his beloved Michigan Wolverines. And as any true Michigan fan, Dick enjoys making the trips to the Rose Bowl with the Wolverines when they make that trip. He still follows basketball and hockey as well as any other area sporting event he can attend.
He is proud to say he is a lifelong Ypsilanti resident, leaving only briefly when his “Uncle Sam” needed him to serve in the US Army. He returned immediately afterwards and still lives in Ypsilanti with his wife Dee.
Jean Lajiness, Office Manager
Julia Collins, Office Manager/Continuing Care Coordinator
Julia started working at the Nie Family Funeral Home in 2008, and truly enjoys being able to assist families in their time of need. She works as a Office Manager at the Liberty Road Chapel, as well as assisting families after their services as a Continuing Care Coordinator.
She was born in Ann Arbor and moved to Britton, MI as a young girl and graduated from Britton-Macon High School. Julia and her husband David, who works at the VA Medical Center, still lives in Britton.
Julia and David have four children and two grandchildren. She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, reading and just being outside when the weather is nice.
Kathy Rakes, Office Manager/Continuing Care Coordinator
Kathy has been with Nie Family Funeral Home since 2010. She served as a grief
facilitator with Keystone Church of Saline and feels honored to serve families struggling
Originally from Tonawanda, NY, in the Buffalo area, Kathy’s family moved to Detroit
where she graduated from St. Ladislaus High School, and U. of M. Dearborn. While
mainly being a stay-at-home mom, Kathy has held part-time jobs as a substitute teacher,
Curves trainer, and an adoption document specialist.
Kathy, her husband, three children, and multiple pets live in Milan and attend The
Lydia Canada, Family Care Associate
Lydia started working at the Nie Family Funeral Home in 2000 after retiring from the Packard Community Clinic where she had worked in office management.
She graduated from Karnak High School in Karnak Illinois and then graduated from Draughons Business School in Paducah Kentucky prior to moving to Ann Arbor with her late husband of 43 years, retired Ann Arbor Police Detective William “Bill” Canada.
Lydia has one daughter and three grandchildren. She loves to travel and singing in her Church choir and spending time with friends and family.
Paul Wadaga, Family Care Associate
Paul started working at the Nie Family Funeral Home in 2000 after retiring from Ypsilanti HIgh School, where he was a teacher.
He earned his Bachelors Degree from Michigan State University and his Masters Degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Paul resides in Ypsilanti and is an active member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus.
Bart Hamiliton, Family Care Associate
Bart graduated from East Grand Rapids High School, the U of M and Wayne State University Department of Mortuary Science, and served in the US Army during the Korean War. He started his mortuary career working at the Metcalf Funeral Home in Grand Rapids before moving to Ann Arbor to join John Fontana as a co-owner of the Fontana-Hamilton Funeral Home, which is now the Nie Family Funeral Home, Carpenter Road Chapel.
After leaving funeral service Bart worked as a real estate broker for 35 years and was the President of the Earl Keim Realty of Ann Arbor, a past president of the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors and a director of the Michigan Association of Realtors.
Bart is very involved in the community belonging to many civic organizations including; Past Treasurer/Director of the Ann Arbor Jaycees, Past President of the Ann Arbor Evening Optimist, Carpenter School PTO, and U of M Club of Ann Arbor. He was a charter member and former member of the Travis Pointe Country Club and Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club. He is a 50 year member of the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor and member of the Clan Hamilton Society of America.
Bart has three children, Tamara Phalen, Kent Hamilton and Jill Peve and one grandson Luke Hamilton James Peve. His interests include researching his Geneology and he is writing his memoir.
Dee Wagner, Family Care Associate
Dee is the beloved wife of Director Emeritus Richard M. Wagner, and a graduate of Ypsilanti High School.
Dee worked for many years at TCF bank and currently works at the Carpenter Road Applebee’s as well as a Family Care Associate at Nie’s.
Dee has three lovely daughters, Sandra D. Daniel, Richelle M. Brown, and Carrie R. Burgess.