Advisory board

Sherry Carter

Terrence B. Desmond

Philip K. Douma

Bruce B. Dunn

Donna Dodds Hamm

Allen R. Jensen

Ron Karelse

Graham MacLeod

Kevin McCabe

Wayne B. McWilliams

Vern A. Pixley

Janice L. Redden

Robert Vandenbergh

Rodney Wakeman

Wallace Williams

CarterSherry Carter joined A. J. Desmond & Sons in 2012. In August 2016, she graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor's in mortuary science. Having previously served her apprenticeship with A. J. Desmond & Sons, she shortly thereafter became a licensed funeral director.

Sherry is recognized as a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP). She is a member of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association (MFDA) and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). Sherry is currently serving as treasurer of MFDA District 6 and as vice president of Troy Kiwanis.


DesmondTerrence B. Desmond has served families as a funeral director for over 55 years. He graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, the University of Notre Dame and the Wayne State University mortuary science program. As part of his ongoing continuing education, Terry is recognized as a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP). He is a past state director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association.

Terry has always been very active in the community. He is a past chairman of the board of Angels' Place (Christian homes for developmentally disabled adults), a former board member of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and a former member of the Oakland County Senior Planning Coalition. Other community leadership positions have included co-founder and former board member of Troy Boys and Girls Club, co-founder of Troy Medi-Go, past vice president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Kiwanis Club of Troy, past president of the Notre Dame Club of Detroit, former member of the board of directors of Marian High School, and past president of the Brother Rice and Marian High School Dads Clubs. Terry is also a past Parish Council president at St. Thomas More and is now an active member of St. Hugo of the Hills, where he and his wife, Betty, were co-presidents of the St. Hugo Parent Teacher Guild.

His community involvement has been recognized by many organizations including the Distinguished Citizen Award for City of Troy in 1982, the Italian Study Group's 2000 Italian-American of the Year, and the Marian High School Volunteer of the Year Award in 2003. Each school he attended has recognized his achievements, including the Award of the Year from the Notre Dame Club of Detroit in 1980, the Alumnus of the Year Award from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 2006 and most recently the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award from the Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science. Terry and Betty have also received special recognition for their continuing service to Marian High School and were honored by Guest House with the 2015 Bishop Kevin M. Britt Award in recognition of a significant ministry to the Catholic Church.

Raised in St. Benedict Parish (Highland Park), Terry is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area. He and Betty live currently in Bloomfield Township. They have six children, three of whom (Margaret, Kathy and Kevin) are now leading A.J. Desmond & Sons, and 18 grandchildren.


DoumaPhilip K. Douma has served as executive director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association for over twenty years, prior to which he served as the association's government relations director from 1999-2000.

Phil spent over 10 years serving on the legislative staffs of former U.S. Congressman Bob Davis, former state Senator George McManus, former Senate Majority Leader Dick Postumus, and served as legal counsel to former state House Minority Leader Ken Sikkema.

Phil attended Albion College and Michigan State University, where he received his B.A. in political science, and went on to obtain his law degree from DePaul University. He then associated with the firm of Stroup, Johnson & Tresidder, P.C. in Petoskey.

The Michigan Funeral Directors Association represents nearly 1,200 funeral professionals working in over 500 funeral homes across Michigan, and is the oldest funeral service organization in the country.


DunnBruce B. Dunn, CFSP, is a graduate of Albion College and Wayne State University, and has been a licensed funeral director in Michigan since 1978. He is a former president and co-owner of the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, retiring in 2013. As a fourth-generation funeral director, he began his career with a strong foundation, but has always encouraged creativity and innovation.  Bruce is a strong advocate for continuing education and his funeral homes were considered teaching facilities to mentor and train. Professionally he served in all offices, including president of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association, and on several committees for the National Funeral Directors Association. Bruce is currently a civilian industry consultant for the Department of Defense, a trustee for the Michigan Mortuary Science Foundation and an advisory board member for Service Corporation International. He and his wife Nancy have two adult children and two granddaughters. He enjoys traveling, golf, downhill skiing and boating.


hammDonna Dodds Hamm has spent a lifetime in funeral service and community volunteerism. Her grandfather founded the Dodds-Dumanois Funeral Home, and Donna became the third-generation family member to become a funeral director when she graduated from the Wayne State University mortuary science program in 1963. She was one of only a few women to be licensed in this male-dominated industry.

In 1980, Donna became the president and general manager of Dodds-Dumanois Co. Funeral Home. She served in this capacity until 2004.

Donna was appointed to the first WSU Mortuary Science Advisory Committee by Marylou Williams. She served as chair of the State Board of Mortuary Science from 1981-1984. She earned the CFSP designation in 1989.

As an active member of District 7, Donna worked her way through the chairs, and in 1993 she became not only the 100th president of MFDA but also the first woman to ascend to this position.

Donna has served as secretary and treasurer of the Mortuary Science Foundation and currently serves on its Scholarship Committee.

As the mother of two grown children and three grandsons, Donna has no intentions of slowing down. She is still an active community volunteer and serves on four boards, all while working part-time at two local funeral homes. She views this act of service as her way of giving back to a community that supported her family's business for decades.


JensenAllen R. Jensen is a graduate of the Wayne State University mortuary science program. After moving to Lansing in 1983, Allen began working at the Palmer Bush Funeral Homes. In 1985, he became manager of the Palmer Bush Lansing Chapel. In 1997, Allen and his wife Susan purchased the Palmer Bush Funeral Homes. They included their name and are now known as Palmer, Bush & Jensen Family Funeral Homes. Allen is a member of the Knights of Columbus Richard Council and the Bishop Albers Assembly of the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. Allen served as president of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association from 2010-2011 and is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association. Allen has served on the Lansing Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors and the Ingham Visiting Nurse and Hospice Professional Advisory Committee. Allen and Susan have three children, Nathan (Missy), Nicholas and Sarah (John) Vatter; two grandsons, Matthew and Bobby; and live on Lansing's west side. They are members of St. Gerard Catholic Church where they remain active.


KarelseRon Karelse is a first-generation funeral director but he has a life-long history with the business. He grew up on the west side of Michigan, and funeral service became a part of his life story at the tender age of 13 when he started washing cars and mowing grass at the Van't Hof & De Meester Funeral Home on W. Leonard St. in Grand Rapids.

Ron went to Grand Rapids Community College thinking he wanted to be a high school biology teacher. He continued working at the funeral home during college and with a little coaxing from folks at the funeral home decided he might as well serve his apprenticeship because he was there all the time and he might change his mind someday about being a teacher. Ron did just that. He served his apprenticeship, changed his mind about teaching and decided to pursue a career in funeral service. Ron went to Detroit, enrolled at Wayne State University and graduated with a degree in mortuary science.

Ron is married to the former Priscilla Graf whom he met in a history class at Grand Rapids Community College. Ron and Pris have four children who all live in the Grand Rapids area. Lisa and her husband, Joel DeVries, have three children. Lisa is a nurse at Spectrum Health and Joel is a teacher at Byron Center Christian School. Lee and his wife, Kelli, have two children. Lee is a second-generation funeral director with Heritage Funeral Service. Becky and her husband, Brian Tubergen, have two children and Becky is a special education teacher with the Grand Rapids Christian Schools. Brian works with his father at Graphic Arts Service and Supply. Beth and her husband, Dan Triezenberg, have one son and Beth works as a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids. Dan is a CPA with a local accounting firm.

In 1968, Ron became part owner of the Van Strien-Alman Funeral Home on Plainfield Ave. A few years later he was instrumental in the purchase of the Edison homestead on Lake Michigan Dr. which became the Shawmut Hills Funeral Home. Eventually, Ron joined forces with Hollebeek, Oele, Van Zee and together they formed Heritage Funeral Service which today includes the Van't Hof Chapel on W. Leonard St., Van Strien - Creston Chapel on Plainfield, NE, Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel on Lake Michigan Dr., Achterhoff Chapel in Muskegon and Stephens Funeral Home in Scottville.

Ron is a member of Riverside Christian Reformed Church and the Grand Rapids North Kiwanis Club. In his spare time he enjoys the outdoors, especially boating, fishing and watching birds. Birders, as you may know, are inspired by the enjoyment and protection of wild birds; they know the identification features of birds and also the details of their distribution. Ron keeps a life-log of his bird sightings which stretches from his cottage on Pentwater Lake all the way to Africa. In a world where the pace of life is becoming ever faster, we all need things to remind us of what life is really all about. Birding does this for Ron and says a great deal about the value he places on the awesome beauty of life and the world we live in.


Graham MacLeodGraham MacLeod was raised with his sister, Heather, in Harrison Township, Michigan. His father built the house that they lived in by himself. After graduating from L'anse Creuse High School he went into the Navy on the USS Kitty Hawk and served four years during the Vietnam era. His father, Angus MacLeod, was the past president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Michigan, which he and his family are quite proud of. Graham came home from the service and immediately joined the VFW and became a member of the Nighthawks, a drill team that became quite popular at parades in Michigan. The Nighthawk members were all Vietnam veterans and there was great camaraderie between them. They were asked to go to Washington DC for the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Graham has also had the honor of placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

After Graham's service was up, he married his wife, Diane, and had two daughters, Shannon and Lindsey. They now have five grandchildren and have been married for 48 years. After he returned home from the service, he joined his dad in his business while going to college. He joined the Wilbert organization in 1984 as Detroit Wilbert Vault Corporation's salesman and has been there ever since. He has made many friends over the years in the funeral business which he cherishes. He has been president of the Wilbert Manufacturers Association and president of the National Concrete Burial Vault Association.

Graham enjoys fishing and hunting in his spare time and just being outdoors. His fondest memories are going to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula with his dad, Angus, and doing some hunting with their Finnish friends. Now he hunts every other year in the UP and in Gladwin the other times with his grandsons.


McCabeKevin McCabe started working in the gardens of a funeral home in 1970 when he was 14 years old. He graduated from the Wayne State University mortuary science program in 1981 and received his license in mortuary science in 1982.

He has served in every chair of District 6, as well as every chair of the Executive Board (President 2010) and the Service Corporation Board of the Michigan Funeral Director's Association.

He was a stockholder and consultant for WR2 in Indianapolis. WR2 was the company that invented and developed Alkaline Hydrolysis for human disposition. This relationship introduced Kevin to author Mary Roach, who made him the subject matter of her book Stiff, the curious lives of human cadavers.

His mentors include L. David McCabe, Roy Peters, Charles Verheyden, John J. O'Brien, William Johns and Ed Dewar.


McWilliamsWayne B. McWilliams is a second-generation funeral director who has spent his entire life in funeral service. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1976 and the California College of Mortuary Science in 1977 and then received his Michigan mortuary license. Wayne is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, the Michigan Funeral Directors Association and the Michigan Embalmers Society. In 2006 he was awarded the designation of Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP). Locally he is involved actively with Huron Shores Fellowship, Alpena Evening Lions Club, SUVCW, Alpena-Hopper Lodge #199, Alpena Shrine Club, and the McWilliams family sponsors a team to raise money for the American Cancer Society during the Realy for Life and Friends Together. He is currently the immediate past president of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association having served as president from 2016 -2017.


PixleyVern A. Pixley is a third-generation funeral director licensed in Michigan and Illinois, and a graduate of Michigan State University (BA in business) and the Wayne State University mortuary science program. Employed by Service Corporation International since 1998, in his current role as a senior managing director he has responsibility for approximately 250 funeral, cemetery and crematory locations throughout the United States. Through his career, Pixley has been engaged in numerous funeral and cemetery initiatives including assimilation of acquired locations, development and implementation of marketing strategy, the SCI Scholarship Program and the development of a mentorship program designed to support career development for all levels of an organization.

Throughout his career there have been numerous leadership opportunities which include former chair of the MFDA Professional Education Committee, past chair of the Regional Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trustees of the Community Foundation of Rochester, Board of Trustees of the Rochester Hills Historical Museum, Community Advisory Board of Trinity Home Health and Hospice, concluded a four-year elected term as vice president of the Rochester Hills City Council, and member of the Staff Parish Relations Board at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.

"Service is a way of life for me, my community, my company and professionally – making a difference in the lives of others has been a life-long commitment," said Pixley.

Pixley is married to Lori and has two adult children.


ReddenJanice L. Redden was born and raised in the Westland area where she met her husband of twenty three years, Jeff Redden. The couple and their two children, Elliah and Gavin, moved to Monroe County in 2006. Janice spent more than 20 years in the dental profession, graduating from University of Michigan in 1997 with a bachelor's in dental hygiene. She graduated from Wayne State University in 2012 achieving her bachelor's in mortuary science, served her apprenticeship and became a manager at Merkle Funeral Service in Monroe, assisting families with funeral and monument services for eight years. Janice obtained her Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors of Ohio dual license in 2015, then received her Limited Life Insurance License through the State of Michigan in 2018 to assist families with Advanced Planning. Currently Janice is employed as a funeral director in charge at Newcomer Funeral Home in Toledo, Ohio, and is a member of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association. Her extracurricular activities include Michigan Volunteer Defense Force, Great Lakes National Cemetery Volunteer, hula dancing, exercising and spending time on the beach.


VandenberghRobert Vandenbergh, CFSP, is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he obtained his mortuary science license in 1969. In 1967 Bob began his career in funeral service with Chas Verheyden Inc. in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and in 1970 he joined the Fred H. Kaul Funeral Home Inc. in Roseville, Michigan. As the firm grew to three locations he became a partner in the company in 1985 and in 2004 assumed the position of president and CEO of the firm until its sale in 2007. Bob is currently a consultant for Service Corporation International of Houston, Texas, and serves as chair of their advisory board.  

Throughout his career, Bob has been very involved with the funeral service professional associations. At the state level, he served on numerous committees and in all the offices of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association including president in 1990-1991. At the national level, he has served on every committee and in all the offices of the National Funeral Directors Association including president in 2001-2002. He continued to serve the profession through his work as an American Board of Funeral Service Education Accreditation Team member. From 2003 until 2015, he served Wayne State as a member of the Board of Visitors of the Eugene Applebaum School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He also continues to write articles and present workshops on funeral service topics throughout the country.

Bob earned the designation of Certified Funeral Service Practitioner in 1994 and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees and as an Ambassador of the Academy of Professional Funeral Practice.

Bob served in the Army National Guard from 1969 until 1975. He was honorably discharged as a Platoon Sergeant grade E-6. He served as a civilian consultant to the Department of Defense as a member of their facility inspection team from 2013-2018.

Over the years he served the communities of Macomb County as an active member of numerous organizations.

Bob and his wife Bonnie are lifelong residents of Michigan and currently reside in Washington, Michigan.


WakemanRodney Wakeman, Wayne State University Class of 1988, has been elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Wakeman, who owns Wakeman Funeral Home with his brother Brian, represents part of Saginaw County in the 94th House District. Rep. Wakeman previously served as president of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association and chair of the Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science.

An advocate for education and funeral service, one of Rep. Wakeman's first official acts as a legislator was to introduce House Bill 4437, which would require a bachelor's degree for initial mortuary science licensure and four hours of annual continuing education.


WilliamsWallace Williams graduated from Wayne State University with degrees in psychology and mortuary science. He is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, Michigan Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, past president of the Michigan Selected Funeral Directors Association, and a founding member of Michigan Embalmers Society. Williams is a licensed funeral director and embalmer with training in restorative arts and reconstruction, serving at James H. Cole Home for Funerals Inc. for 44 years.