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.
In the News
American Funeral Director Magazine featured Pray Funeral Home in their industry leading publication. This article discusses our history, mission, and future vision. It also has some unique photos of our 3.5 generations of funeral service.
Pray Funeral Home was established in 1923 by Ernest G. and Myron E. Pray
Pray Funeral Home was established in 1923 by Ernest G. and Myron E. Pray. This father and son team purchased an existing furniture store and "Undertaking" company. Their business was located on the main street of Charlotte's downtown business district until 1930 when Myron and his wife, Hazel, purchased a residence at 405 W. Seminary Street. This was used as their personal residence and as the funeral home until 1949.
In 1949, the present funeral home was constructed next door at 401 W. Seminary, and the former funeral home was converted back into a residence for Joseph Eugene Pray, who was newly licensed as a Funeral Director that year. The furniture store was sold a year later, and the Pray family's full attention was concentrated on funeral service.
Pray Funeral Home is still an independent family owned and operated funeral home. We are currently in our fifth generation of family members involved in the firm. Our family looks upon our tradition and heritage with great pride.
The prestige of Pray Funeral Home in the local community is built on years of dedicated service to the community. This is a factor in each and every decision we make concerning our services to the community.
As a result, the Pray Funeral Home has been awarded the Pursuit of Excellence Award from the National Funeral Directors Association for our outstanding and compassionate service to the families of our communities. We have earned this award each year since 1989. This is awarded to a select group of funeral directors from around the world who meet the strict qualifications of community and professional service in more than eight different areas.
In 2006 Pray Funeral Home was inducted into the NFDA's Hall of Excellence at the 125th annual convention in Philadelphia, PA. The Hall of Excellence, part of the NFDA's Pursuit of Excellence Program, honors firms for their continued outstanding service to families, commitment to the community and dedication to upholding the highest ethical and professional standards.
Most of the families we serve are from Charlotte and the surrounding communities of Potterville, Vermontville, Olivet, Bellevue, and Dimondale.
We are located 20 miles southwest of Michigan's capital city of Lansing. Our staff is involved in many different forms of service to the families of our community, from Pre-arrangements, through the funeral services, and on through Post-Funeral activities. Our staff members are also involved in many different organizations to help the community.
Our Service Goals are:
- To help the families of our community through one of the most traumatic times of their lives by arranging meaningful services that depict the lives of their loved ones.
- To provide support to families beyond the actual funeral services.
- To support the community of Charlotte as a whole through educational programs, economic and personal support of community projects, and personal and corporate involvement in community development.
We feel that the way to insure our future is to provide the best possible service to our clients, and to support the community as a whole.
Our Valued Staff
Joseph Ernest Pray
Licensed Funeral Director, CreationeerRead Joseph Ernest Pray Bio
“Celebrate the memories of the deceased as you draw family and friends around you. Be involved in life, but don’t be afraid to ask for help from others.”
Joe, a Michigan Funeral Directors Association 40-year Licensee Award winner, grew up in Charlotte, at the funeral home/residence across the street from where now lives. Joe started out washing cars and mowing the lawns, eventually becoming a licensed Funeral Director in 1979. He attended Michigan State University, and graduated from Wayne State University. Joe is grateful for the ability and opportunity to create meaningful life celebrations to help families in the community heal from the loss of a loved one. He’s served as Charlotte Chamber of Commerce President, United Way Chairman, Chairman and Founder of CharlotteRising, a volunteer for Hayes Green Beach Hospital, and as AL!VE volunteer for Sparrow/Eaton, and Chairman of the Charlotte Airport Advisory Board.
Along with his life Lori, Joe loves spending time with his sons and grandchildren. His favorite family activities involve trips to the family cottage in northern Michigan, taking care of the family’s antique car collection, flying airplanes, and barefoot waterskiing.
Joseph Eugene Pray Sr.
Funeral DirectorRead Joseph Eugene Pray Sr. Bio
“Find a funeral home that has people you know and trust.”
Joe was raised in the funeral home, so funeral service was always his life’s work. In his younger years, he came home from school an hour early to help set up furniture to accommodate the funeral crowds. A graduate of Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science, he now resides in the same home where he grew up, and is a 70-year Funeral Service licensee from the Michigan Funeral Directors Association. Joe’s community involvement includes Christmas Kiddies, Kiwanis Club (charter member), Jaycees, Charlotte Masonic Lodge 120 F& AM, and frequent Charlotte All Class Reunion Committee leader.
Joe Sr. enjoys the family's antique cars, which he has acquired over the years,He loves to drive them in local parades. Many of Joe’s favorite times have been spent at the family cottage on a lake in northern Michigan, with his son, daughter, and later, grandchildren, teaching them to ski.
Joseph Tyler Pray
Licensed DirectorRead Joseph Tyler Pray Bio
Tyler Pray graduated on August 6, 2006, from the Wayne State University Mortuary Science program in Detroit with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He was the only of 24 graduates coming from a family business.
The Mortuary Science degree is Tyler Pray's second degree, his first being a B.A. in English from Kalamazoo College in 2005.Tyler follows his father, a 1979 graduate of the program, in receiving the C. Beaver Edwards distinction in restorative art, an award named for a famous sculptor and restorative artist who was a Professor of Joe Pray Sr., a 1949 graduate of the program.
Since graduation, Tyler has attended Life Appreciation Training, and participated in several staff exchange programs with other funeral homes. In April of 2008 Tyler was installed as a Director on the Board of the International Order of the Golden Rule. He served OGR until April 2011.
Tyler currently serves as President of Michigan Funeral Directors District 5.
Tyler has a wide range of interests including writing, acting, barefoot waterskiing. In addition to funeral service Tyler is pursuing a career in writing and has been published in many literary journals, newspapers and periodicals.
Corporate SecretaryRead Dana Pray Bio
Dana Pray is a licensed funeral director with experience in managing both family owned and corporate owned funeral homes. She is a former Michigan Funeral Directors Association staff member serving as the membership liaison.
She now serves the Charlotte community as corporate secretary and management consultant for Pray Funeral Home.
Dana is best known in the community for her work with Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital's ALIVE, a multi-million dollar health park that will boost the health and well being of the community in numerous ways. Dana is a community development coordinator for ALIVE and has been instrumental in bringing the story of ALIVE to many throughout the tri-county area.
Pre-planning CounselorRead Dan Hoffman Bio
“You want a funeral home that will do their best to make you feel at home and even in the time of grief, hopefully you will leave with a smile on your face, and in your heart.”
Dan started at Pray Funeral Home in 2009 part-time, and soon was licensed as an insurance agent in Michigan, so he could perform his current job as a pre-planner. He’s had many jobs, working since the age of 7 – the last before coming to Pray was as a real estate agent, and he keeps that license current as well.
Dan grew up in Pulaski County, and loved the small, peaceful farming community. Working at Pray has been the most enjoyable occupation he’s had, and he cannot stress how convenient pre-planning is, and how it helps families who do it. Dan is a member of the Masons, Scottish Rite, and Shriners.
Along with his wife Dawn, Dan enjoys his hobby as a Ham Radio Operator. He keeps the family home in Indiana for quiet getaways with Dawn.
Aftercare CounselorRead Dawn Hoffman Bio
“To anyone grieving, you don’t have to do it alone. Pray Funeral Home offers a very helpful grief counselor and grief support.”
Dawn joined Pray Funeral Home in 2009, to do greeting and office work. The following year, she moved into Pre-arrangement and Aftercare programs. She loves the job, and it doesn’t feel like work to her. A graduate of Huntington University with a BA in Sociology and Social Work, Dawn has 33 years of service as a juvenile court caseworker to enhance her current work with our families. Born and raised on a 3rd generation family farm in rural Charlotte, Dawn has a lifelong enthusiasm for outdoor activities in beautiful Michigan. She is a longtime community and church volunteer, along with her husband Dan.
Dawn and her Dan married in 2008, and enjoy working together at Pray, as well as traveling to new places, and spending time at their getaway home in Indiana.
Financial and Facility ManagerRead Lori Pray Bio
“Your local funeral director gives back to the community and has your best interest in mind, always.”
During her 40 years at Pray Funeral Home, Lori’s many roles include bookkeeper and community liaison. She has a BA in Business Administration from MSU, which helped prepare her for the work she does here, and made her a lifelong Spartan sports fan. The garden-based funerals at Pray Funeral Home have become a new interest for her, and she enjoys maintaining the flower beds and plantings around the funeral home grounds.
Lori’s community work has earned her Community Pride and Clyde Fulton Awards from the Charlotte Rotary Club, and an Athena Award. Organizations Lori has served include GFWC Charlotte, Friends of Charlotte Performing Arts Center, Sparrow Eaton Hospital, as a Volunteer and Board Chairman, Boy Scouts of America, Charlotte High School Band Boosters, as past President, Mobile Meals Inc., as treasurer and volunteer, and Eaton Community Health, as Trustee.
She treasures family trips, holidays, and cottage time in Northern Michigan with her family: husband Joe, sons Tyler and his wife Dana, McLain and his wife Sarah, and grandchildren, Anders, Alden and Kinley. At the lake, she’s the driver of the ski boat, and loves to cook and read.
Mrs. Kristine Sowles
Office ManagerRead Mrs. Kristine Sowles Bio
“Grief is very personal. We all do it in our own way and in our own time – there are no time limits.”
Kristine joined Pray Funeral Home in 2014, after working nearly 20 years at Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital. She manages the countless details and documentation required in serving each family, and is an expert in Veteran’s Benefits and Honors. She’s proud of the extra touches Pray Funeral Home provides to families. A Vermontville native and graduate of Maple Valley, Kristine earned an Associate Degree in Business Management and Leadership from Lansing Community College. She is a member of the Kiwani Homes Board, as well as a former member, board member and trustee of the Kiwanis Club of Charlotte.
Kristine and her husband Dan live in Charlotte, with their beloved German shepherd, Rossi. Kristine enjoys time in the outdoors, especially kayaking, fishing, grilling, and time with family and friends around a bonfire.
Creationeer AssistantRead Lori Coplin Bio
“Reputation. Integrity. Reverence. Kindness. Compassion. This is how we make a difference.”
Lori Joined the Pray Funeral Home family in 2005, shortly after the loss of her father and aunt. She felt called to help others in their healing process drawing on her own experience. She enjoys hearing of the “loved one’s life” in order to provide a personalized vignette to display hobbies and interests. At Pray, Lori feels her peers are more like family than co-workers.
Lori’s face may be a familiar one to many as she has lived in Charlotte the majority of her life. She owned Campbell Dance Studio (home of the Dancing Deputies of Charlotte Frontier Days), once her mom decided to retire and has wonderful memories of several generations of Charlotte families who have been the studio’s students. Now that Lori herself has closed the studio, she has time to enjoy her treasured family.
Gentleman StaffRead Richard Martin Bio
“My brothers and I gathered together and we all mourned equally the passing of our parents.”
Affectionately known as Martino, Richard joined Pray in 2004, because he “likes to drive cars.” Richard is a transportation expert on the funeral home staff, making many a long-distance trip, and parking thousands of cars over the past decade. He also is our Creation Attendant escorting and overseeing nearly all of our cremation cases. As one of his duties he has driven one of the several classic cars in nearly every Frontier Days Parade and downtown car show over the past 14 years. He retired from General Motors after 34 ½ years on assembly line inspection.
He lives with his daughter and two cats, Lauren and Tigger, near the same country corner on North Cochran, where he grew up.
Service GentlemanRead Richard Bernard Bio
Richard, or Dick as most people know him, is one of our gentleman that assists us in many ways, from helping as part of our home transfer team to helping at the funeral home on the day of the service. Dick was a retail manager before his retirement from his full time job.
Gentleman StaffRead Duane Royston Bio
“Through personal family loss, as well as families I served as a pastor in their time of loss, I decided I wanted to work at Pray Funeral Home to continue that service.”
As a pastor, Duane is involved in the Charlotte Evangelical Pastors Association, and has served 19 years in pastoral ministry with the Church of the Nazarene, in three different locations, currently in Charlotte. At Pray Funeral Home, Duane helps with service day parking, transportation and ushering, and occasionally officiates funerals. He worked 34.5 years at Fisher Body in Lansing, in both production and management.
Duane and his wife Joann are celebrating over 60 years of marital happiness. They enjoy traveling throughout North America, visiting their three children, nine grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren.
Gentleman Staff and Video SpecialistRead John Mayes Bio
“I enjoy Michigan most in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.”
John grew up in Detroit. He served as a long time technology and drafting teacher in the Charlotte High School. As a resident of Charlotte, he’s happy to serve families at Pray Funeral Home in various ways.
As a hobby, John rides his motorcycle.
Facility MaintenanceRead Bill Martin Bio
“I’ve known the Pray family since childhood, and it’s my pleasure to work with them now.”
Bill has been at Pray Funeral Home for over 15 years, after a long career with General Motors in Lansing. He’s a member of the Vermontville Lions Club, and was Vermontville Lions Club Veteran of the Month in November 2019. Bill works with Eaton Community Palliative Care, and volunteers at the thrift store.
Bill and his wife Sally enjoy spending time with their family: son Michael and wife Sarah, son Daniel and wife Missy, and daughter Bess and husband Brian, and their children. They love spending time at the Great Lakes. He enjoys collecting die cast cars and trains of all types. An avid sports fan, Bill enjoys following all the Detroit teams, and the Michigan Wolverines.
ReceptionistRead Lela Rodrigeuz Bio
“The only way through grief is to talk about and share memories of your loved one.”
Lela originally served 9 years as Pray Funeral Home office manager, and now works as a part time receptionist in the evenings. Originally from Vermontville, she and her husband, Fred, now live in Charlotte, where she is a devoted member of New Hope Community Church, and Helping Hands Food Pantry.
Lela can transform a simple piece of paper into a work of art, a life story, a memento, even a flower. She loves scrapbooking, card-making, and paper craft. She is also currently on a mission to visit each Michigan Lighthouse with her grandchildren.
Apprentice and Creationeer AssistantRead Nate Lovaas Bio
“Sharing memories of loved ones is a very important step in transitioning without our loved one by our side.”
Nate grew up in Charlotte, around the corner from Pray Funeral Home. Now in his 8th year with us, Nate cites Dana Pray as a huge influence on his decision to attend mortuary school at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, because of his desire to help others during such a difficult time of life. A founding member of The Charlotte Rotary Satellite Club (2017 Chairman), Nate is also very involved with CharlotteRising and Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
Nate enjoys fishing, hunting, golfing, and attending sporting events, along with sampling new breweries around the state.
ReceptionistRead Ruthie Willis Bio
“I am a caring face for people as they come in for visitations and services for family and friends. We have an incredible staff here at Pray Funeral Home.”
Ruthie has been at Pray Funeral Home for 9 years, after varied work experience in home health care, home and office cleaning, day care, piano teaching, and home school education. She is still involved in working with residents of nursing and adult foster care homes, as a musical sensory integrator. Her vast experience helps her know how to meet the needs of each person who comes to Pray Funeral Home.
Ruthie spent childhood summer weekends in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, and still enjoys the outdoors, via travel and camping along the shores of the Great Lakes. Ruthie and her husband of over 30 years, Kurt, have two children, Hannah and Kevin.
Service GentlemanRead Mark Fletcher Bio
Mark came to Pray Funeral Home after an active position in high end retail management. Mark serves our families as part of our transfer team, and during visitations and services, and just about anything else he is asked to do. He always engages our guest with his positive attitude and compassionate personality.
Joseph Anders Pray
Vice President of Employee MoraleRead Joseph Anders Pray Bio
Anders is the son of J. Tyler Pray. He is one of our many promotional faces in the community. His big blue eyes and his constant smile and the bounce in his step aways bring a smile to staff and guests alike.