shaded park on a sunny day

Thomas L. Starks

Thomas L. Starks

Owner and President

Tom Starks has spent a lifetime being a second-generation funeral director. He graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1977 and the University of Wyoming with a BS in Business and the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science with a Mortuary of Science Degree.

Tom has a Michigan mortuary license, crematory operator license, pre-need insurance license and he is a past member of the State Board of Mortuary Sciences. He is also a past president of Preferred Funeral Director International.

Before he joined the family business, owned at the time by his father Bob Starks and Louie Kerlikowske, Tom worked in a funeral home in Fort Worth, Texas for 2.5 years before returning to St. Joseph in 1986.

“In 1993, we sold the business, and I worked for the corporation which bought us until 2000 when they fired me because I disagreed on how they wanted to handle families. I started from ground zero in 2001 by opening Starks & Menchinger Funeral Home.” 

He has gone from being the owner’s son to working for a corporation in management to being the owner himself.

“The biggest event which shaped my life was in 2004 when I lost my first wife, Tracey, to cancer. I thought I knew what to expect because I helped thousands of families, read books and attended meetings on how to help people. Then I found out until you walk in the shoes of losing a person, you do not understand.”

Tom is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in St. Joseph, the Benton Harbor Rotary Club and St. Joseph River Yacht Club. He has served on the Lory’s Place Board, Easter Seals Board, on United Way committees and at LINK Crisis Center. 

He is married to his wife, Christine, and between the two of them, they have a dog named Ollie and four children. Olivia (Justin), Laura (Nick), Kai and Logan. Olivia and Laura have joined the family business as well. 

“My goal is to make a positive impact in all the communities we serve. I always remember what Louie Kerlikowske told me, ‘If you take care of the families, they will take care of you.’’