Neil H. Youngman Neil H. Youngman was born in Denmark in 1850 and immigrated to America when he was eighteen years old. For several years he worked in Chicago at his trade as a cabinet maker. Following the great fire there in October 1871, he moved northward to the Danish community in Montcalm County, Michigan. In Greenville he met and married Anna Sophie Anderson, also a native of Denmark, in April, 1879.
In the same year, the Youngman’s decided to leave Greenville and move to Lakeview, to make a home and establish themselves in business. They purchased a lot on Main Street and built a two-story frame building. The first floor was used for the hardware and furniture business along with caskets. The second floor was used as the family living quarters. The store was stocked with furniture, which, in part, was made in Grand Rapids, and the rest was made by Mr. Youngman. In 1879 the business section of Lakeview consisted mainly of the log school house, a general store, a barbershop, a road-house (hotel) and the Youngman store.
In those days, there were no laws regarding the funeral profession. In the fall of 1879 a number of Funeral Directors, including N. H. Youngman got together and organized the Michigan Funeral Directors Association. Mr. Youngman held license number 84. It was in the year 1895 that fire wiped out the entire business section of Lakeview which was of frame construction. Besides rebuilding the furniture store, Mr. Youngman also built a funeral chapel which was used until 1949. IN 1905 a building on the southwest side of Main Street was purchased and he added hardware to his furniture and funeral business, actively promotion the sale of stoves and furnaces, many of which are still in use in the Lakeview area. For a number of years a daughter Grace (Mrs. Fred Kendall) worked in the furniture and hardware business.
Leo and Clifton Youngman became associated with their father in 1912, operating the funeral, furniture and hardware businesses. That same year the firm established a Ford agency which was operated in a building directly behind the funeral chapel. For a period of 19 years, businesses were in operation on both sides of Main Street, the funeral and automobile businesses being on the northeast side and the hardware and furniture lines conducted on the southwest side. In 1931, the hardware and furniture stock was sold to Cantwell Brothers who continued to use the same location. IN 1949, the Youngman brothers built a new funeral home on the bank of Tamarack Lake, one block from Lakeview’s business section.
The Youngman’s first serviced cars in the warehouse located at the rear of the funeral chapel until 1919 they built the brick garage located across from the Kelsey Hospital. IN 1921, Leo and Clifton Youngman bought their father’s interest in the business. They also discontinued the sale of Ford cars and trucks and took the Willy’s-Overland franchise, later changing to Chevrolet in 1933.
In 1954 N. H. Youngman, son of Leo, and Deal L. Youngman, a son of Clifton were included in the partnership after being active in the family business for a number of years. In 1965 bought another change in the family business when two corporations were formed, Youngman Chevrolet – Buick and the other, Youngman Funeral Home. Since the elder members passed away (Clifton in 1970 and Leo in 1973) the firms continued under the ownership of H. H. and Dean. On January 1, 1979, another change was made, with the auto agency and the funeral businesses operating independently. The funeral home went under the operation of N. H. Youngman and wife, Jeanette and the Chevrolet-Buick business went under the operation of Dean L. Youngman, and son, James.