Jeff Lemler, Funeral Director / Owner & Certified Funeral Celebrant
Jeff was raised in Wells County and a 1994 graduate of Norwell High School, he went on to study agriculture at Purdue University and worked with the Hippensteel Funeral Home in Lafayette. After graduating from Purdue, he went to Vincennes University and obtained his Funeral Directors License. Jeff returned to Bluffton and joined Thoma/Rich in September of 2000 and became a partner in the operation in the fall of 2001.
In July of 2004 he married Jamie (Kain) and they live in rural Bluffton. They have a son, Braden and a daughter Macy.
In January of 2011, Jeff graduated from Insight Institute as a Life Tribute Professional and founded Northeast Indiana's first Funeral Celebrant Program. Under this program, Jeff has had the privilege of serving families that are looking for a truly personalized funeral option.
“Every person has a story. A story that is written every day of their lives. As a Celebrant, I have the honor to tell these remarkable stories, and pay tribute to a life well lived!"
Jeff has been very active in the Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana, helping World War II Veterans make the trip to Washington, D.C. to experience their monument. He serves as the President of the Guarding Group, a division of Bluffton Revitalization. He serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Wells County Foundation. He holds memberships in both the National and state Funeral Directors Associations.
Brian Christman, Funeral Director
Brian grew up in Chester Township, Wells County and graduated from the Southern Wells High School class of 1998. He studied at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne and Graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in 2009. While attending College in Cincinnati, Brian was an active member of the Alpha Tau Epsilon Fraternity of Morticians. Brian obtained his Funeral Directors License in January of 2011. Brian married Mallory (Glassburn) in October 2011 and they have two daughters Mackenzie and Makayla. They enjoy attending the Southern Wells Community Church, being outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Jamie L. Lemler, Owner / Famly Services
Jamie is the daughter of Norm & Sally (Jackson) Kain of Bluffton and granddaughter of James S. & Mary Alice Jackson. She graduated From Bluffton High School where she was active in athletics and cheerleading. She graduated from University of Indianapolis with her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy. She has worked at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne starting in 2001. Jamie also enjoys helping families at the funeral home during visitation and services.
Lesley A. Dettmer, Funeral Assistant/ Funeral Service Education Student
Lesley is the daughter of Eric & Lora Dettmer of Zanesville and the granddaughter of Wendell & Linda King of Bluffton and Eldon & Dalean Dettmer of Ossian. She graduated from Norwell High School in 2016, successfully completing the internship program with the funeral home her senior year. She is currently enrolled at Vincennes University studying in the funeral service curriculum. In her free time Lesley enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family and friends. Lesley continues to work at the funeral home assisting Jeff Lemler and Brian Christman while serving families.
Nancy Moore - Baker, Family Services
Nancy has lived in Bluffton since 1966 and is a 1978 graduate of Bluffton High School. After high school, she began a 29 year career as a dental assistant, working 23 of those years with Dr. Michael Graham. In 2007, she joined the staff of Family LifeCare in Berne, serving as their HR Coordinator. She started employment with Thoma/Rich, Lemler in June of 2014. Nancy married Dwight Baker in 1991 and resides in Bluffton. Nancy was a 14 year member and past treasurer of Bluffton Beta Phi Chapter of Tri Kappa. She currently is a member of Light and serves on the BHS Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. Nancy enjoys being able to assist families during visitations and services and is proud to be part of the Thoma Tradition.
Brian Steffen, Monument Specialist
Brian is a graduate of Ivy Tech with an Associates Degree in Business Management and Business Marketing. Brian was hired by Thoma/Rich to maintain and manage the Monument Center and Bluffton Cemeteries, Inc. Brian enjoys leisure time activities like bike riding, basketball, jogging, walks with his wife, and is a member of the Apostolic Christian Chuch.
Joe Smekens, Funeral Director Assistant
Joe Smekens is a lifelong resident of Bluffton, Indiana. He is a 1961 graduate of Bluffton High School. He attended Milo Bennett School of Linotype after high school and began his employment with the News-Banner in 1963. He was employed at the News-Banner in Bluffton for a period of 45 years, serving in many roles, including 22 years as managing editor and seven years as sports editor. He began employment with Thoma/Rich, Chaney & Lemler Funeral Home in October 2008. Joe and his wife, Barbara attend St. Joseph Catholic Church and First Baptist Church in Bluffton. They are the parents of five children, Denise (Tom) Oswalt, Julie Fetters, Diane (Chip) McArdle, Angie (Scott) Harris and Brady (Kristina) Smekens. They also have 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
James E. Phillabaum, Greeter
Jim has lived in Bluffton since 1946. He was elected to the Bluffton City Council in 1976 and continues to serve on the City Council. He has also seved as the President of the City Council and on the Bluffton Board of Works and Safety. Jim holds a degree in accounting from International Business College and professional designation of Associate of Risk Management from the American Institute of Insurance. He is a member of Bluffton First United Methodist Church and has served on several church boards.
Jim was employed by North American Van Lines, at the corporate level, from 1971 until his retirement in 2002. At the time of his retirement he held the position of Vice President of Insurance Subsidiaries and Manager of Corporate Insurance and Risk Management. He currently works part time as a Life and Health Insurance in addition to working at the funeral home.
Jim married Joyce (Joy) Wenger from rural Bluffton in 1963. They have two daughters Jill and Jada and a son John. They also have two grandchildren Megan and Nathan.
Mr. James Wolf, Funeral Director Assistant
James Andrew (Andy) Wolf is a lifelong resident of Wells County. He is a 1971 graduate of Bluffton High School. He earned a Bachelor degree in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2012. He retired from American Electric Power (AEP) in 2012 after 40 years of service where he worked as an electrical equipment repair facility supervisor. He currently is owner/operator of Wolf Services, which specializes in stone and dirt hauling, and light excavation. He began employment with Thoma-Rich Lemler Funeral Home in April of 2013. Andy and his wife, Brenda, attend St. Peter Lutheran Church in Adams County where he has served as head deacon. Andy also serves on the Lancaster Township Advisory Board as well as the Harrison-Lancaster Fire Territory Board. They are the parents of five children, Jim Stults, Troy (Ali) Stults, Chris (Sonya) Wolf, Lindsay (Jason) Maiden, and Landon Wolf. They also have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.