Funeral services are scheduled Saturday at TCA for Nick Handler


Nick Handler outside Handler Funeral Home in 2012. Herald file photo by Hollie Smith.

Friends and family of Nick Handler will gather for visitation and funeral services later this week following his passing on Sunday, Feb. 28, at Bixby Hospital in Adrian.

Known as a man of great compassion, Nick knew how to reach out to people who were struggling with personal challenges, including the loss of loved ones. His energy, humor and gentle nature made him a popular figure who owned and operated Handler Funeral Homes. He served as a community volunteer in many ways, including his time spent with Communities In Schools, mentoring students in the Rolling Reader and Pen Pal programs, leading the Tecumseh Chamber of Commerce as president and his membership with the Kiwanis Club of Tecumseh.

Visitation will be Friday, March 4, at Handler Funeral Home in Tecumseh from 1-8 p.m. The funeral is scheduled at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 5, at 11 a.m. Visitation will also be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. until time of service.

In a personal story he shared with Homefront Magazine, Nick paid homage to a brother who died at age 16 and left Nick with a motivation to help others. The article, which was published in the fall of 2012, follows:

Brother’s untimely death shapes funeral director’s career choice


Some people know what they want to do for a living when they are children while others may not happily settle into careers until later in life. For Nick Handler, a pivotal, life-changing event that took place when he was an adolescent shaped his future as a funeral director.

“I was 12 years old and my brother Mike was 16 when he died unexpectedly,” said Nick. “My brother’s death shaped so much of what I do today, including paying attention to details.” Nick said Mike was picky, insisting on mowing in straight lines, and had specific ideas about neatness and cleanliness that stuck with his younger brother.

In 1972, Mike had been mowing the lawn when he came inside to lie down because of a headache so bad it brought him to tears.

“I remember doing what brothers do — picking at him, calling him a crybaby,” said Nick, who still gets emotional in the telling 40 years later. When Mike later had a seizure, then a cerebral hemorrhage that sent him first to a hospital in Monroe where they lived and then to St. Vincent’s in Toledo where his organs were donated, what Nick most remembered is he was mean to his brother. It’s one of those details surrounding his brother’s death that equipped him to help others today.

“I know I didn’t make him die. I know we were brothers, and brothers fight, but I still feel bad about it,” Nick said. He uses the experience when a family member tells him they had been mean to the deceased or weren’t on the best of terms before their death.

“I know today no one of us has any control over our loved ones’ deaths. We can’t keep them nor can we make them go away, no matter what our last encounters were,” he said. “Sometimes I share that, like when youngster tells me they were mean to Grandpa before he passed away.”

It was what happened after Mike’s death that would later lead Nick into the business, however. He said he was shocked and confused asking questions such as, “How can my brother be dead? He was here and fiine yesterday.” He said being 12 was different back then compared with how 12-year-olds seem to know so much today.

At the funeral home, Nick’s questions continued.

“I had a million questions, like, ‘Why is my brother cold? Why is he hard? Does he still have his legs?’” Nick recalled. Bob Allore, the funeral director, took him under his wing and not only answered Nick’s questions, but opened the casket so he could see his brother’s legs were still there. Nick said he didn’t comprehend the finality of death, and even “tested” his theory that his brother must still get up at night. He tore a Kleenex and put it under the lid. When he found it in the same spot in the morning, the finality started to sink in.

Nick also observed how Mr. Allore took care of his family, seeing to their every need as friends came to pay respects. With that and the time the funeral director took with Nick, he made his career choice then and there.

“I had to wait until I was 18, but I asked Mr. Allore for a job and I washed cars and did grounds maintenance until I could apprentice under him, and when I got my license, I worked there several years,” Nick said. He later worked in Milan for the Ochalek’s and Gary Couture in 1993. In 1997 he became partners with Gary, forming Couture-Handler Funeral Homes, and when Gary retired, Nick became the owner of Handler Funeral Homes in 2006.

“I’ve learned that God can work through the most horrendous, terrible things in life,” Nick said. “He used the experience of my brother’s death to form what I do today.
This is not a job — this is something I honestly feel God blessed me with by giving me the desire and the talents.” He said he never has any dread about going to work because he loves working with families and counts it a privilege to be invited into their lives at such a sensitive time.

“No two families are alike, so it is never the same old-same old. I truly have a passion for what do.”

Nick said he makes choices by offering services he’d hope were available if it was his own family, and a few times, has been in the shoes of the mourners. It was also through experiences with his brother that also prompted another detail Nick feels is important to families.

“When they brought his casket out, I wondered if he was still in there,” Nick recalls. “One of the things I do now is to ask if the family prefers to step out or assist when it’s time to close up.” Many people like to add items of significance or choose a special blanket or wrap, he said. “There’s just something about tucking them in that helps people have closure,” he said. “I didn’t have that with Mike because we, my younger sister and I, were sent out of the room. This way, there are no questions when the family helps with that last step if they want to.”

He said his goal is to guide, support and comfort others during their difficult time after losing a loved one. He said isn’t important to him to be the biggest or best-known funeral home.

“I just have to be and do the best I can for others,” he said. “I own two beautiful funeral homes that feel like ‘home’ and I have the best staff — or extended family — to help me do what I love doing, and a wonderful community to be a part of. God has truly blessed me in many ways.”


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

Email Us


Latest articles

Please Login for Premium Content