History & Staff

Our History

Czopek Funeral Home is one of the most respected and oldest funeral homes in the Downriver area. Czopek Funeral Home was established in June 1935 by Frank Czopek. The original building was located on the northwest corner of 9th and Oak Streets in Wyandotte. In February 1939, the business was moved to its current location.

Prior to the 1930's, there were few funeral homes because most funerals were conducted from private residences. It was common to see furniture stores which also did undertaking. When Czopek Funeral Home was constructed, it was designed to serve as a funeral home. Frank Czopek and his wife, Evelyn, resided on the second floor for 45 years.

In 1984, Chris and Jim Poirer, along with John Michalak purchased the funeral home from Frank Czopek. To accommodate an increase in the number of families served and the need to create a barrier-free environment, a 7,500 square foot expansion and renovation program was completed in 1988. Gary Kissel joined them in December of 1989. John Kernan joined the partnership January 1, 1997 and his funeral home, Kernan Funeral Home, became a subsidiary of Czopek's and was renamed Kernan Funeral Service. Jim Poirier, John Michalak and Gary Kissel have retired but all remain active with the firm.

Our Valued Staff

John G. Kernan

John G. Kernan, Owner/Funeral Director

John resides in Grosse Ile with his wife Jeanne. They also have three children, John (Kristine), Robert (Lindsey), and Connie (Matthew) and are proud grandparents of Jack, Ryan, Robert, Maxwell and Madison. After graduating from Riverview's Gabriel Richard High School, John attended Wayne State University, obtaining a degree in Mortuary Science. While attending Wayne State, he was a member of their rowing crew. John has over 36 years of experience in funeral service. Along with his partner, Chris Poirier he currently owns and operates Czopek Funeral Home in Wyandotte; Kernan Funeral Service in Lincoln Park; Heritage Funeral Home in Southgate; and Crane Funeral Home in Romulus. John is a member of the Robert Jones Council Knights of Columbus and past member of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Park D.D.A. and the Exchange Club. For relaxation, John enjoys boating locally as well as hunting, fishing and golfing at his cottage in Irish Hills.

Chris  Poirier

Chris Poirier, Owner/Funeral Director

Chris lives in Southgate with his wife, Sue and their son Christopher. They also have two daughters, Kristin (Greg) Grant and Jennifer (Micah Swain) and are proud grandparents of Presley, Megan, Adam and Easton. Chris is a graduate of the St. Lawrence Seminary and a Wayne State University Graduate with a degree in Mortuary Science. Chris has over 36 years of experience in the funeral industry. Chris purchased Czopek Funeral Home along with his father Jim in 1984. He currently owns and operates Czopek Funeral Directors, Kernan Funeral Service, Heritage Funeral Home and Crane Funeral Home with his business partner, John Kernan. Chris is an active member of the Wyandotte Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Wyandotte Boat Club, Fraternal Order of Police, as well an active chairman of the City of Southgate Police and Fire Commission. He also is a former Public Safety Commissioner for the City of Southgate for 6 years. In his spare time, Chris enjoys hosting the family and friends at his cottage in northern Michigan as well as sailing, fishing, and relaxing.

Robert Gury

Robert Gury, Funeral Director

Rob was raised in Dearborn and graduated from Wayne State University, Department of Mortuary Science. He is a licensed Mortician / Funeral Director with the State of Michigan, for over 30 years. He also holds a limited life insurance license that allows him to pre-arrange funeral services. Along with his business partners, John Kernan and Chris Poirier, Rob currently owns and operates Heritage Funeral Home. Rob considers it an honor to support and serve his families in their time of need. The most rewarding part of his many years of caring is being able to exceed the expectations of a grieving family. He strives to make a difference in the families that are entrusted to him. Rob understands the importance of supporting the community in which he lives and does business. He is a member of both St. Barbara Catholic Church and Our Lady of the Scapular Parish, where he is an active member of the Usher's Club and Holy Name Society. Rob is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Father Solanus Guild, and the Michigan Funeral Directors Association. He was also a former member of the West Wayne Vicariate. Rob and his wife, Laurie (Barczak), also enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends.

R. Shawn Hartnett

R. Shawn Hartnett, Funeral Director, CFSP, CMFP

Shawn started working at Czopek in 2008 as a greeter, while attending Wayne State University. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Science, as well as completing the National and State Board Exams becoming a licensed funeral director. Shawn is dedicated to serving families and his community. He has completed over 180 hours of continuing education in earning his national designation as a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP), as well as a State Certified Funeral Practitioner (CMFP). He is also a member of MI-MORT, a group of volunteers from various professions to help aid in response of a disaster with mass fatalities and is also a limited life agent. Shawn’s goal is to provide meaningful, memorable services to the families he has the honor and privilege of serving, and provide assistance to people who want to preplan their funerals. Shawn has lived in the Downriver area since 2005 and currently lives in Trenton with his wife Alison, daughter Lily, son Tommy and their beloved yellow Labrador Retriever Elvis. He is very involved with his son’s hockey team; is the Committee Chairman for his son’s Cub Scout Troop, as well is a member of the Trenton Lions Club. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, swimming, archery and watching the Detroit Red Wings.

Gary  Kissel

Gary Kissel, Funeral Director (Retired)

John  Michalak

John Michalak, Funeral Director (Retired)

Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson, Administrative Assistant

Kelly grew up locally, in the city of Allen Park, and graduated from Allen Park High School in 1996. She earned her Associate of Science from Henry Ford College, and is currently enrolled in the Urban Policy and Planning Program at University of Michigan - Dearborn, for her Bachelor’s Degree. Kelly considers it an honor to assist families during such difficult times in their lives. Any way she can help ease the burden for those grieving is a very rewarding endeavor for her. In 2007, Kelly accepted a full-time position as the administrative assistant for Czopek Funeral Home and for the past 11 years has helped oversee the firm’s daily operations, while she quickly established herself into the community and the entire Czopek family. When she isn’t pursuing her educational goals, she enjoys traveling, photography and spending time with her loved ones.

Sophie  Solecki

Sophie Solecki, Funeral Home Staff

Sophie is the proud mother of Steve (Wendy) and Michelle (John), also the proud busia of Jon, Emily, Kayla and Olivia. She was born and raised in Wyandotte, attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel schools and is still a member of the church. She is also a member of the Altar and Rosary Societies, the Orchard Lake Society, Father Solanus Guild, as well as an active member of the PLAV Post 7. Family and traveling rate high on her list to keep her active. She has been a greeter at Czopek Funeral Home since 2000.


Elizabeth "Betsy" L. Faryniarz, Funeral Home Staff

Elizabeth, also know as, Betsy, grew up in the city of Wyandotte, graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1965 and still resides in the city. She would later graduate from Virginia Farrell Beauty School in 1970 and has her State of Michigan Cosmetology License. Betsy is married to her husband Thomas S., has one son, Thomas N., daughter in law, René, and one granddaughter, Morgan. In 1997, when her mother had passed away, Betsy came into the funeral home to style her mother’s hair when James Poirier, funeral director and owner, asked if she was available to work at Czopek Funeral Home. James gave Betsy the confidence to work for the funeral homes and she feels that she has been professionally fulfilled with her position here ever since, helping to bring comfort to grieving families. In her free time, Betsy enjoys attending her granddaughter’s soccer, volleyball and softball games. She also enjoys listening to music, attending oldies concerts, solving crossword puzzles, dancing and homemaking.

Sherri  Lynch

Sherri Lynch, Funeral Home Staff

Sherri grew up in Livonia, graduated from Livonia Bentley High School in 1983, and attended Henry Ford Community College for Accounting/Business. Sherri married her husband, Pat, in 1989 and together they have two sons, Shawn and Ryan. She would later move to Wyandotte in 1999. Sherri’s son, Shawn, is marrying, Emily, in August of 2018. She is also a “furmom” to her “furbaby" Jack, a German Shepherd. Spending time with her family and hosting their big Sunday dinners come first and foremost during her spare time. Her family also enjoys spending long weekends Up North at their cottage in Mikado, Michigan and, in the summer, boating down at Brest Bay. Sherri is a member of Our Lady of Scapular Church in Wyandotte and, from time to time, she also enjoys volunteering at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. For fun, Sherri is also an avid University of Michigan sports fan, especially Michigan football (Go Blue!). The most fulling aspect of Sherri’s job is meeting the many wonderful people and families at the funeral homes, while helping them through one of the most difficult times of their lives. Sherri enjoys connecting with the families by just talking to them and finds a sincere purpose with her job.

Debbie Wallace

Debbie Wallace, Funeral Home Staff

Debbie Wallace attended Southgate Public Schools through 8th grade and graduated from Gabriel Richard High School in 1983. After receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Education in 1990, she went on for her Master's Degree in Education, graduating in 2007. Debbie taught at Christ the Good Shepherd School for 4 years and has since been at St. Pius X Catholic School for 15 years. Currently living in Woodhaven, she also has three daughters, all graduates of Grand Valley State University – two who still live in Grand Rapids. Debbie came to work for the funeral homes when she began looking for a second job to help get her daughters through college. She enjoys working with people and thought this would be a good fit, finding the most fulfilling part is getting to know the families and doing whatever she can to help them through a difficult time. She is a member of the Detroit Historical Society and the Wyandotte Historical Society, and has also performed volunteer work at both the Detroit Historical Society and the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. Her interest for history, especially historical homes and buildings, directed her volunteer work at these places. In her down time, Debbie enjoy spending time with her family and friends, going for walks, visiting other places in Michigan (especially the west side of the state), and attending country music concerts.

Colleen  Baca

Colleen Baca, Funeral Home Staff

Colleen grew up in the city of Taylor, graduating from Taylor Center High School in 1974. She attended college and later became a Certified Nursing Assistant. She retired from Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, working in the mother/baby unit for 38 years and later came to work for the funeral homes, searching for somewhere new and different to work. Colleen has always considered herself a people person and that trait helps fulfill her position here at the funeral homes. She is a member of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Taylor, and also a member of the PRCU (Polish Roman Catholic Union) of Wyandotte. PRCU hosts many events and activities through the year which Colleen is involved in. She has also volunteered her time with Meals on Wheels. Colleen resides in Southgate with her husband, Bernie. They also have two daughters, Jamie (Dave) and Renee, one son, Eric (Kathleen), grandchildren, Kylie, Kloie and Ethan Eric. Watching her grandchildren, spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and spending time in Florida at their time share is how she enjoys her free time.

Diane  Skrypiec

Diane Skrypiec, Funeral Home Staff

Lesley  Thomas

Lesley Thomas, Funeral Home Staff

Mary Borysiewski

Mary Borysiewski, Funeral Home Staff