GLADWIN – On September 9, Megan Vallette, a 2018 Gladwin High School graduate, hit her one year mark as an apprentice at a funeral home in Gladwin to start her career with a local business that has been around for over 100 years.
The Lee-Ramsey Funeral Home in Gladwin is part of the Ramsay Group of funeral homes that has been servicing the central Michigan area since 1906. The Sisson Funeral Home and Gladwin Chapel in Gladwin is owned and managed by David Ramsay, who Megan is apprenticing under. David Ramsay has been a part of the business since he joined Francis Lee in business back in 1979.
Megan is a student at the Pittsburgh School of Mortuary Science (PIMS) and has been conducting her studies online while apprenticing at the funeral home in Gladwin. Before she enrolled at PIMS, she completed an associate’s degree for her general education requirements at Mid Michigan Community College in December of 2019.
“I had a class at Mid, it was a religion course called ‘Death and Dying,’” Megan said. “[In the class] we had to interview a funeral director and I chose Mr. Ramsay and the rest is history.”
Megan originally was interested in doing autopsies, however the required schooling was too time consuming for her liking. Once she began her studies in mortuary school, she realized that working at the funeral home was her true calling. The career field first interested her while she was shadowing at another local funeral home.
“I had job shadowed at Hall-Kokotovich when I was in high school and I fell in love with the purpose of helping the families,” Megan said.
She plans on sticking with the work she is studying at mortuary school despite her original interest in autopsies. This allows her to stay in her familiar hometown and help the local families she has come to know and love.
While considering where to go for schooling, Megan was referred to PIMS by the funeral director for the Ramsay Group at the Pinconning location. She was told that at PIMS, she would be able to continue to work and learn hands-on at the funeral home in Gladwin while completing her course work online.
“The online portion really works well for me because I can work and serve the local families at the same time I am also getting my education,” Megan said.
Megan credits much of her education to David Ramsay who has shown her a lot through his many years of experience in the field. She believes most of the course work online is “book work” whereas the hands on experiences she has at the funeral home are where she learns the most.
Megan remembers her parents having different responses to her career choice at first.
“For my mom, it kind of came as a shock,” Megan said. “My dad was definitely more laid back about it, but I have both of their support in doing whatever I want to do with my life.”
Looking back, she feels a bit shocked as well considering her high school interests were literature based and far away from any science work.
Mortuary science seems to be a field that most wouldn’t find very desirable, however Megan shows that its more than just the job, it’s about family. Working to better the people’s lives who live and some who grew up in the same place as Megan, is what she enjoys most about the experience.
“Every day is something different, I never have the same day twice,” Megan said. “I really love my job, and not everybody can say that.”