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, along with serving on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Wells County Foundation. He holds memberships in both the National Funeral Directors Association, Indiana Funeral Directors Associations, along with his membership in SAL, American Legion Post #111 of Bluffton.
Jamie Lemler, Owner / Business Operations Administrator
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 worked at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne starting in 2001. In 2017, Jamie joined the family business full time and has a very active role in the daily operations and works as the business administrator. You will see Jamie during visitations and serving families on funeral services and coordinates our extensive aftercare program. Jamie and Jeff have a son, Braden and daughter, Macy and therapy dog Chloe.
Howard D. Rich, In Loving Memory
Howard D. Rich was born Adams County, Indiana to Edward and Lillie (Beer) Rich, he was part of the first class to graduate from Adams Central High School in 1950. He married Beverly J. Lobsiger in June 1955 at the Monroe United Methodist Church.
He served in the United States Army in the Military Police, and then graduated from Indiana College of Mortuary Science in Indianapolis.
Howard came to Bluffton in 1956 to work for Bill Thoma in his funeral business and became a partner within five years, forming the Thoma/Rich Funeral Home. He was encouraged by his new employer to join the Bluffton Rotary Club, which he would serve in several offices including president and remain active for 55 years, rarely missing a meeting. He once credited the club’s motto, “Service Above Self,” for leading him into community service.
The first effort was a joint project with his wife. During their first year as members of the Downtown Merchants Association, the couple responded immediately when it was announced that due to lack of funds, the city would not be putting up Christmas decorations. The couple volunteered to coordinate the project, donating their time and materials.
He was soon asked to serve on the Community Chest board, the forerunner of the United Way and was the fund drive chair. Howard served on the boards of the Wells County Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce including terms as president of each. He co-chaired (with Beverly) the local bicentennial celebration in 1976 and he was a key leader in the revitalization efforts triggered by the loss of the Corning Glass plant in the late-1980s. This resulted in the creation of the Rivergreenway, the downtown landscaping and the Kehoe Riverfront Park.
When the chamber of commerce and the Creative Arts Council were both in need of new office and program space in 2001, Howard conceived the idea of the Arts, Commerce and Visitors Centre on the banks of the Wabash and led the effort to raise more than $2 million to make the vision a reality in 2004.
He retired from the funeral home in 2001, but remained active in a number of community and Rotary projects, including a total refurbishing of Rotary Park along the Rivergreenway. This resulted in the new pavilion being named in his honor.
Howard Rich was named the Volunteer of the Year in 2014, he received the Wells County Community Service Award in 1977 and the Outstanding Citizen of the Year from the chamber in 1991. Howard and Bev were presented with the Art Leadership Award from the Arts Alliance of Indiana in 2002, and were the Grand Marshals for the Bluffton Street Fair opening parade in 2007.
Howard was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church in Bluffton, where he faithfully served on many committees.
Bret L. Fair, Funeral Director
Bret is a licensed funeral director and has been serving in the funeral industry since 2002. He was raised in Bluffton, Indiana, graduating from Bluffton High School in 1988. He is a graduate of Mid-America College of Funeral Service in Jeffersonville, IN, Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne, where he earned an Associates Degree in Business. He is a member of Pi Sigma Etta National Morticians Fraternity and a member of the Elks Lodge.
Ryan Potts, Director of Special Operations
Ryan Potts brings a long history of providing excellence to families at a difficult time.
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.
Nancy Moore - Baker
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.
Rev. Lyle A Breeding
Rev. Lyle A. Breeding
Lyle was born and raised in Plymouth, Indiana. He graduated from Plymouth High School in 1975. In 1980 he married Patricia (Hougey) and they have two daughters. Jennifer teaches at Belmont Middle School in Decatur, Indiana and Elyse works at Egenuity in Monroe, Indiana. Lyle worked in the commercial printing industry until 1992 when God called him into the ministry. Being Ordained in the Wesleyan Church Lyle ministered at Plymouth Wesleyan Church from 1992 – 2004. In 2004 he moved to Bluffton and became the Senior Pastor at Sonlight Wesleyan Church where he still serves in that capacity. Lyle and Pat are happy to call Bluffton home and he is glad to be able to help minister to families during their difficult times along with the rest of the staff at Thoma /Rich, Lemler.