Young couple to run funeral home in old Saginaw mansion
Saginaw — Funeral homes often are family businesses, passed down from one generation to the next.
But Mark L. Fischer and Andrea Heilbronn Fischer didn’t inherit this unconventional career path, they chose it.
“We both came to it in the same way and, actually, within a couple of weeks of each other, the same summer. We both kind of decided that would be a career choice for us — a calling if you will,” Andrea Heilbronn Fischer told The Saginaw News.
“We both had deaths in our families, and it opened up a door for us and we realized it was something we both wanted to do. We didn’t know each other then.”
The couple bought McIntyre Funeral Chapel, founded in 1937 by Joseph McIntyre, in October. They renamed it Fischer Family Funeral Services.
They had been living in Chicago for the past several years, where they studied and met at Worsham College of Mortuary Science.
She grew up in Saginaw Township. He grew up in Litchfield, Minnesota, a town about 60 miles west of Minneapolis.
They’re both licensed funeral directors in Illinois. Mark L. Fischer also is licensed in Michigan and Andrea is working toward a license in state.
The Fischers are renovating the place, formerly a lumber baron’s mansion, and bringing it up to date, while at the same time preserving its historic character, such as the inlaid wood floors. It was built in the 1880s.
“We’ve been peeling away wallpaper and carpet and finding these treasures everywhere. It’s awesome,” she said.
Before stumbling upon McIntyre, they considered buying another funeral home in the Saginaw area. It didn’t pan out.
But by then they had decided on moving to Saginaw.
“We were pretty set on it. We were ready to come back and looking forward to moving back,” she said.
Mark L. Fischer decided to start cold calling area funeral homes.
“I started with McIntyre here and I ended with McIntyre,” he said.
After meeting with the former owner and taking a tour of the funeral home, we “decided this was a perfect fit for us.”
Mark L. Fischer said they want to “let the public know that there’s change here and that something fresh and new is in town.”
“The McIntyres ran a great business and had a great name, but we just really needed to kind of freshen things up, so we decided that we would change the name completely to Fischer Family Funeral Services, which was a bold move on our part,” he said.
Like many newcomers to Saginaw’s Old Town District, the Fischers are millennials, in their 20s.
“We’re pretty young to be owners, I think — in other peoples’ eyes, at least,” Andrea Heilbronn Fischer said. “We feel completely prepared and ready for this.”
In the past year or so, new businesses offering everything from shoe repair to smoothies have opened in Old Town Saginaw. And more are coming.
Though a lot is changing at the funeral home, the services offered there will in large part remain the same.
Arrangements can be made in person or online. The average funeral package for a traditional burial runs anywhere from about $6,000 to $8,000.
“We’re both hailing from an extremely competitive market,” Andrea Heilbronn Fischer said. “Perfection was demanded of us. There was no excuse to make a mistake or have anything wrong. I mean, it had to be perfect. And I think we both have that work ethic in us and we think that Saginaw deserves that same level of service.”