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 36 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 enjoy spending time in their winter home at "The Great Outdoors" in Titusville, Florida. 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 12 great-grandchildren.
Douglas R. 'Dutch' Nie II, President/CEO
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 is president elect of the Rotary Club of Milan as well as a Past President 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 (Michelle), Jesse, Natalie, and Jordan, who all work in the business. “Our time spent together is the best,” Dutch says.
Ryan H Goss, Manager/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 21 years of experience in the industry.
Ryan lives in Milan.
Kiki Rodgers, Funeral Director
Monica Burchi, Funeral Associate, Arranger
Monica grew up in Macomb, Michigan where she graduated from Eisenhower High School. She continued her education at Macomb Community College obtaining her Associate’s Degree while being active with the national honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Monica then earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Science from Wayne State University while serving as class president. She is the first in her family to go into the funeral industry but finds that it truly is her calling to work with families during the grieving times. Monica has a genuine passion to help those honor their loved ones and is very grateful to be part of the Nie Family Funeral Home team.
Kathie Steigerwald, Arranger/Funeral Service Associate
Kelli Babchook, Funeral Director
Kelli was born in Jackson, Michigan and graduated from Jackson High School. Following graduation, she continued her education at Jackson College earning an Associates in Science.
After working in the hospice community for a few years she felt a calling to serve the families needs beyond the hospice setting and decided to further her education and pursue a career as a licensed funeral director. In the fall of 2015 she enrolled in the Mortuary Science program at Wayne State University in Detroit, where she will graduate in August 2017, with her Bachelors Degree in Mortuary Science.
The Nie Funeral Home is very involved with the Mortuary Science Dept at Wayne State University including offering students an opportunity to work part-time in the profession they have chosen as well as offering apprenticeships for current students and recent graduates, which is required in order to become a licensed funeral director.
Kelli started working part-time after being selected for a student position and because of her outstanding work ethics and care for all of the families she works with was recently selected. Kelli completed her apprenticeship and received her Mortuary Science license in 2017.
Jean Lajiness, Office Manager (Liberty Road Chapel)
Jean has been with the Nie Family Funeral Home since 2000. Jean grew up in Livonia where she attended Bentley High School. Later she would move her family to Pinckney, MI. There she managed a small town grocery store in Hamburg, MI for many years. She then went on to the University of Michigan Department of Pathology where she met the Nie family. Several years later when Doug and Sandi Nie retired they would ask her to take a position to become part of their team. She accepted. After her father’s passing in 1998, she realized how she could help families through the grieving process. Through the years it has been very rewarding. I am very honored to be a part of the Nie Family Funeral Home”. Jean resides in Pinckney and has three children and eight grandchildren.
Brenda Keasal, Funeral Service Associate
Brenda was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. At age six months her family moved to Flint, Michigan where she grew up and graduated from Atherton High School.
She was very active in her church, youth group and music ministry which led her to Bible College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is where she met her husband Doug.
Brenda has worked at the University of Michigan Health Service in the Business Office since 1994 hoping to retire soon.
She lives in Canton with her husband Doug. They have one daughter and seven grandchildren.
Brenda has been with the Nie Family Funeral Home since 2002.
Kathy Rakes, Office Manager (Carpenter Road Chapel)
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.
Douglas Keasal, Funeral Service Associate
Douglas Keasal grew up in the farming community of Manchester, Michigan and
then went to Bible College in Grand Rapids.
He is a recent retiree from the University of Michigan where he worked for 22 years.
He is lives in Canton with his wife Brenda and they have one daughter and seven grandchildren .
For many years he has been in part-time and full-time ministry. His many years of church work and providing a care and comfort ministry to many is a perfect quality to bring to the funeral home.
Kathy Gilden Bidelman, Funeral Service Associate
Kathy grew up in Ypsilanti Township on 30 acres with her parents and 2 siblings. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Ypsilanti. Kathy earned her bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University in microbiology/chemistry and her masters in library and information science from the University of Michigan.
She began at Nie Family Funeral Home in 2014 after retiring from the University of Michigan where she worked for 29 years. Nine years at the ERIC Clearinghouse and 20 years for the international chemistry journal, Inorganic Chemistry.
"Nie handled my father's memorial arrangements. I personally observed first-hand their professionalism, respect to families, thoroughness, their attention to detail, knowledgeable and helpful staff. I was very appreciative and impressed. I decided that I would like to join Nie, give back and help families in any way that I could during their loss and grieving. I am honored to be assisting families. Nie also handled my mother's affairs 5 years later".
In addition, Kathy continues as a substitute reference librarian for the Ypsilanti District Library.
Kathy was also employed as an information specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, account executive at University Microfilms and the EMU University Archives.
She lives in Ypsilanti with her husband, Harry, retired fire fighter/EMT at Ypsilanti Township. They have twin sons. Eric is a senior engineer on the Google Chrome team in Mt. View, CA and Gavin is an assistant professor for the Institute for Intelligent Systems, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Memphis. They have two grandchildren.
Steven Lowe, Funeral Service Associate
After 33 years in fire service serving the local community in their time of need, Steven will continue to serve the local community through the Nie Family Funeral Home.
Steven looks forward to serving the community with the same compassion and dedication he learned in the fire service.
Steven resides with his lovely wife of 30 years in the Ann Arbor area.
Jesse R Nie, Funeral Service Associate
Jesse was born in Illinois while his father was serving in the US Air Force before the family moved back to Michigan in 1990.
Working with his brother Jacob, part time at the funeral home during high school, he learned the value and fulfilment that goes hand in hand with serving families in their time of need.
Upon graduating Milan High School in 2007 he moved out to Boulder, Colorado to work with his brother in the cycling industry. While in Colorado Jesse discovered a love for the outdoors; exploring new wilderness and experiencing all life has to offer, big and small. After nearly a decade spent out West, Jesse has moved back to once again provide the support and care families need in this unique and wonderful line of work.
Jesse is honored to be a part of not only his family’s business but also to have the opportunity to be a small part of your family while we celebrate life lived.
Jacob D Nie, Funeral Service Associate
Jacob was born in California while his father was serving in the US Air Force before moving back to Michigan for the rest of his childhood in 1990.
In high school, like his father, Jacob worked part time at the funeral home, mowing the lawn, washing cars. and working visitation.
Upon graduating Milan High School in 2005, he and his girlfriend, now wife, Michelle, moved out to Boulder, Colorado so Jacob and his brother could work in the cycling industry. After 8 wonderful years and many bicycles repaired Jacob and Michelle moved back to Milan and bought the house next door to his childhood home.
Jacob is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of professionalism and support for grieving families.
He is currently enrolled at Washtenaw Community College with plans to transfer to Eastern Michigan University.
Michelle Nie, Funeral Service Associate
Meeting the Nie Family was one of the most incredible experiences in Michelle’s life. It was not under the usual circumstance of a lost loved one but actually the opposite; she found her soulmate. In 2006, Michelle was 21 when she was introduced to her now husband Jacob and his family and was immediately taken aback by their closeness, compassion, and welcoming heart that he and his entire family offered to her.
Michelle and Jacob decided in 2008 to go on an adventure and without much planning packed their Jeep Wrangler and headed across country to go live in Colorado. Although they both knew their families wanted to have them nearby, they were thankful for their support and excitement towards the path they chose.
Eight wonderful years in Colorado which included a wedding, the adoption of two cats and one dog, as well as buying their first home seemingly couldn’t compete with their want to be closer to their family. In 2016, Michelle and Jake packed their bags and pets and headed back to the mitten with fond memories and full hearts.
Shortly after moving home Michelle started working for the family business and quickly found how much she enjoyed having a job that helps the community she lives in. She could also see the same compassion and welcoming heart that she was offered by the Nie family is offered to each family coming through their door and she too is happy to reciprocate the gesture. Michelle is grateful for the opportunity to not only be a part of this family but serve with a true family business.
Natalie F Nie, Funeral Service Associate
Jordan S Nie, Funeral Service Associate