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.

Our History

Our History

I opened Lighthouse Funeral & Cremation in June of 2013. Prior to starting this new venture, I had personally served residents in the area since 2001. My career began at a local funeral home during my senior year of high school at Union City. I found that I really enjoyed the vocation and felt a calling I could not deny. Since then, I have served hundreds of families in the surrounding area. I am committed to providing personalized, small town service and world class technology.

At Lighthouse, we strive to exceed your expectations and want to set a new standard for what a funeral home can be. My family and I have deep roots in the community and we are proud to be serving the people we know and love. My wife and I are both graduates of the local high school and members of the Union City Wesleyan Church. We have three young children and many family members who live in the surrounding communities. We loved growing up in the area and enjoy raising our family here.

Being in business is a family tradition that I am proud to continue. My great-grandfather operated Goodwin's Saw Mill in Girard for many years. My father owns and operates Goodwin's Plumbing in Burlington and Marshall. My wife's great-grandfather owned a grocery store, Rathburn's, in downtown Union City for many years and her father and brother continue to operate family farms in the area. My sister-in-law directs operations at historic Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater.

To better serve local families, in the fall of 2015 we purchased the former Putnam Funeral Home in Tekonsha. The newly-remodeled “Lighthouse of Tekonsha” has since hosted many visitations, funeral services and other family and community celebrations. In the winter of 2016, we purchased the former Spencer Family Funeral Home in Athens. After razing that building, we rebuilt in its place a new, modern facility with ample parking. Like our Union City and Tekonsha locations, “Lighthouse of Athens” is serving as a community gathering place for funerals, meetings, special occasions and much more since it opened in the summer of 2018.

All this is to say Lighthouse is here to stay. We want to continue to build on the relationships and trust we’ve developed over the years. We are especially committed to serving the small and more rural communities in our area with the genuine caring, meaningful services, supportive technology and high quality products they deserve. When you need us at Lighthouse, we will be here to guide you in your time of need. I would consider it an honor to be your family's funeral care provider.

Our Valued Staff

  • Tate C. Goodwin

    Tate C. Goodwin Owner/Manager

    Serving families and exceeding expectations is his passion. He is involved in all aspects of the Lighthouse operations. You may see or speak with Tate when a loved one passes and he will guide you through the entire process. From start to finish, no detail will be left to chance. You can count on Tate because what's important to you and your family is important to him. He is available 24/7 to serve you. Tate belongs to the Tekonsha Lions Club and serves on the board of trustees and as treasurer of the Athens Area Community Foundation. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children and are members of the Union City Wesleyan Church.

  • Josh Fleming

    Josh Fleming Funeral Director

    Josh grew up in Tekonsha and graduated from Homer High School in 2003. He worked for Cronkhite Vault Service for three years, then attended KCC and Worsham College of Mortuary Science. He has been a funeral director in the Marshall and Homer area since 2012. Josh lives in Tekonsha, where his parents, Greg and Lisa Fleming, also reside. He is married to Danelle Snyder, a Union City graduate. They have two daughters, Livia and Lexis. Josh attends Our Lady of Fatima Church. As a funeral director, he is flexible at accommodating the needs of families and easing their concerns during emotionally difficult times. When not working, he enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with friends and family.

  • Eric Purple

    Eric Purple Advanced Planning & Operations Manager

    Eric joined Lighthouse in the summer of 2021. He is responsible for funeral pre-planning and monument sales, as well as maintenance and operations. Eric hails from Custer, Michigan. For the past few years he and his wife, Olivia, have resided in Union City, where they are members of the Union City Wesleyan Church. The couple enjoys ballroom dancing and raising their new daughter, Brinslee. Eric graduated from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education in Grand Rapids and is a talented chef and experienced food services manager. He is personable, customer service-oriented and skilled at working within clients’ budgets. When he’s not at Lighthouse, you might find Eric indulging in his passions of cooking, woodworking or basketball.

  • Kristy Smith

    Kristy Smith Assistant Manager

    Kristy and her children, Kate and Connor, represent the sixth and seventh generations of their family to live and work in the Union City area. They love the small-town sense of community. Kristy is a counselor, family life educator, writer and speaker. She enjoys creating lasting memorials for families by capturing in obituaries, eulogies and tribute videos the essence of those they have lost. As a chaplain she sometimes serves as celebrant for funerals. Kristy also shares her God-given musical gifts by playing piano to enhance funeral services and life celebrations. Kristy's warmth, humor and practicality help put Lighthouse guests at ease.

  • Annabelle McCombs

    Annabelle McCombs Funeral Associate

    Annabelle, 17, has been job-shadowing at Lighthouse since June of 2019. She grew up in Union City, the daughter of Brian and Jill McCombs and the sister of Jack McCombs. She recently graduated from Pansophia Academy and earned an associates degree from Kellogg Community College. Annabelle believes funeral service is her calling. She is enrolled at Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and is on-track to become a funeral director at the age of 19. Annabelle likes the homey feel of the services provided by Lighthouse and being a part of the Lighthouse Family. Outside of school, Annabelle enjoys artistic endeavors and spending time with friends and family.

  • Mike Axford

    Mike Axford Funeral Associate

    Mike is a funeral director who graduated from the Wayne State School of Mortuary Science and has been in the funeral business for 55 years. He formerly owned four funeral homes in northern Michigan and was manager of Putnam Funeral Homes, with locations in Coldwater, Union City and Tekonsha. He likes working at Lighthouse with Tate Goodwin and Josh Fleming, both of whom he mentored early in their careers. Mike and his wife, Anne, reside in Tekonsha, where he is a member of the Tekonsha Lions Club. Mike enjoys helping other people through a difficult time in life.

  • Jeff Chichester

    Jeff Chichester Funeral Associate

    Jeff is a native of Athens. He graduated from Ferris State University and is a self-employed information technology specialist. He and his wife, Amy, reside in the village. Jeff is a former Athens Village Council and Lions Club member. He is the go-to guy for Lighthouse, whether it's addressing mechanical, electrical and technology issues or assisting with service delivery. Jeff appreciates the camaraderie that comes with living in a small town. In his leisure, he enjoys camping, outdoor cooking and sharing the recipes he has perfected.

  • Tim Spiess

    Tim Spiess Funeral Associate

    Tim has resided in Athens since 1998 with his wife, Nancy. They have two grown children, Lexi and Trevor. Tim is a U.S. Army veteran and former postal worker. He recently retired from the Fort Custer National Cemetery staff, where he performed maintenance and helped facilitate military services and burials. Tim enjoyed his daily interactions with families, funeral guests and honor guard members. Lighthouse provides him with ongoing opportunities to provide respectful assistance to families and help bring about closure following the death of someone close.

  • James Hurley

    James Hurley Funeral Associate

    Jim and his wife Julie are residents of Union City where Jim serves on the Village Council. He is a retired Michigan State Trooper who is committed to serving the community and its residents. We are pleased to have Jim on our staff. When you attend services at the Lighthouse, you may see Jim. He is there to help you and to support families in their time of need.

  • Russ Feller

    Russ Feller Funeral Associate

    Russ attended Coldwater High School and Western Michigan University. He and his ”lifetime educator” wife, Mary, reside in Coldwater. They attend the First Baptist Church, where Russ sits on the Diaconate Board. Russ worked at the Putnam Funeral Home in Coldwater for 15 years prior to its closure, beginning as support staff and transitioning into pre-need specialist. Russ appreciated the pre-planning process and helping people make important decisions prior to the stressful when a death occurs. Apart from work, Russ enjoys hunting waterfowl and turkey, fishing, gardening, cooking and singing Gospel. He has been with Lighthouse since 2017.

  • Sharon Applegate

    Sharon Applegate Hospitality Associate

    Sharon Applegate and her late husband, Neil, both grew up in Athens and reared their two children there. She has always been involved in the community, from founding the Athens Follies, belonging to the Historical Society and serving on Community Foundation committees, to sitting on the Quonset Hut Theater Board and participating in activities through her church. Sharon enjoys connecting with the people she meets through The Lighthouse and supporting them during their time of need.

  • Rob Denniston

    Rob Denniston Funeral Associate

    Rob is a graduate of Athens High School. He and his wife, Teesha, reside in Union City, where their three children and Teesha’s home-based daycare keep them busy. Rob does maintenance and custodial work for the First Presbyterian Church in Coldwater and the Union City Wesleyan Church, where he is a member and the sound guy. Rob played a key, hands-on role in the restoration and re-assembly of all of the bridges at Calhoun County’s Historic Bridge Park. He enjoys following NASCAR and watching the activities of his children. Rob has real understanding for those who have lost a family member or close friend.

  • Nathan Walker

    Nathan Walker Funeral Associate

    Nathan and his wife, Jasmine, are residents of Athens, where Nate is a volunteer firefighter and captain with the Athens Township Fire Department. They have a young son, Jaxen, and a daughter, Natalie. Nathan operates his own lawn care business serving the Athens area. He is proud to help care for friends' and neighbors' families in their time of need. Nathan helps with a variety of tasks at the Lighthouse and is here to help you, too.

  • Rich Ingersoll

    Rich Ingersoll Funeral Associate

    Rich has lived in Athens for nearly 50 years, but he grew up in Richland and graduated from Gull Lake High School. He then attended MSU, where he took a short course in farm equipment sales and service, working afterward at Spoor & Parlin in Athens. Rich also served as a forklift delivery driver for Clark Equipment and helped open the Eaton (Corporation) Road Ranger Training Institute. He retired after 19 years with Nationwide Truck Brokers, where he put together the driver safety training program. Although he works mainly behind the scenes, Rich enjoying the positive environment at Lighthouse and meeting and helping the nice and kind people who attend funeral services. His wife, Vicki, also works for Lighthouse.

  • Pat  Gibson

    Pat Gibson Funeral Associate

    Pat is a CMU alumnus and an MSU fan. As an adult, he resided in Athens for eight years, where he served one year as village president. Twenty years ago he moved to Union City, where his wife, Lori, is a middle school teacher. They built their home here and reared their two (now grown) children here. Pat is an avid outdoorsman who hunts, fishes and likes meeting others who share those interests. He has been employed for 33 years in food distribution sales, but in his youth worked at a funeral home in Jackson as a summer job. Knowing many residents of this area makes Pat a natural for assisting at Lighthouse, as people find comfort in seeing a familiar face during their time of need.

  • Janet Avery

    Janet Avery Hospitality Associate

    Janet and her husband, Bill, are long-time residents of Union City. They are active in their church and ministering to the needs of others. Janet genuinely enjoys taking care of her friends and neighbors when they come to the Lighthouse. If there is anything that you need while you are our guest, please see Janet and she would be happy to assist you. And be sure to mention to her how much you like the flowers outside of the building that she tends with loving care.

  • Mary Kerr Badder

    Mary Kerr Badder Hospitality Associate

    Mary is a resident of Union City, where she lives with her husband, Michael. She works fulltime at Brookside Surgery Center in Battle Creek and sometimes helps out in the evenings and weekends at the Lighthouse. Mary enjoys helping others and making your visit to the Lighthouse comfortable. She is a very special lady because she just happens to be the mother of Tate Goodwin, owner and manager of the Lighthouse.

  • Vicki  Ingersoll

    Vicki Ingersoll Hospitality Associate

    Vicki’s friendliness and versatility are a part of her special gift of hospitality. A Union City graduate, she now resides in Athens, with her husband, Rich, who also works for Lighthouse. Many people recognize Vicki from her previous work at Dancer’s Department Store, Harding’s and Hurst’s Market within the two communities. She enjoys her Lighthouse co-workers, helping keep all Lighthouse facilities looking good and serving area families. Vicki is an active member of Wakeshma Community Church. Her idea of leisure involves reading, shopping and socializing with family and friends.

  • Shirley Damrow

    Shirley Damrow Office Assistant

    Shirley is an office assistant with a background in sales and marketing. She has been employed in regional property management, owned a golf course in Battle Creek and two travel agencies in Coldwater. Shirley is a graduate of Union City High School who has resided in Athens, with her husband, Bill, for the past five years. Shirley wanted to work for Lighthouse as the result of the positive experience she had when Tate Goodwin assisted her family following the death of her father. Shirley enjoys working locally in an ever-changing business where the staff tailors services to meet the needs of the families it serves.