History & Staff
Grace Funeral & Cremation Services was founded on the principle of providing truly personalized service for all of our client families. We provide a complete range of affordable services, including an extensive line of memorial products.Bob and Kristan McNames have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
When we sit down with a family, we have just one goal: to create a fitting, memorable and affordable service for their loved one. Together, we explore the wide variety of services and products available, as well as a wealth of creative ideas and suggestions.
We'll design a memorial or funeral service that suits their needs now, and in the future. Families who come to us know that years from now, they will have deep peace-of-mind because in coming to us, they've done their best to honor their loved one.
Grace Funeral & Cremation Services opened its doors in June of 2009. Family-owned and operated by Bob and Kristan McNames, licensed funeral directors with more than a decade of experience each. They earned their bachelor degrees in mortuary science and funeral service from Southern Illinois University. Grace Funeral & Cremation Services is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. Both Bob and Kristan McNames are licensed to perform and conduct funerals in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Grace Funeral & Cremation Services is an exception to a long-held rule: funeral homes must be traditional in décor, and traditional in services. The hallmark of Grace Funeral & Cremation Services is flexibility. “We listen to our client families, and will help them to create the most fitting, and most affordable, service for their loved one. We’re willing to stage services wherever and whenever the family desires."
Our Valued Staff
Bob and Kristan McNames, Licensed Funeral Directors, Co-Owners
Bob and Kristan McNames met at Southern Illinois University, while enrolled in Mortuary School. (Yes, it’s as romantic as it sounds!). They were married shortly before graduation. After graduation, the McNames relocated to Aurora, where Bob completed his Illinois Funeral Director Apprenticeship, and became a Licensed Funeral Director. After a few years in Aurora, they moved to a small town in Northern Wisconsin where they managed two small corporately owned funeral homes. Kristan completed her Apprenticeship and became a Licensed Funeral Director. Living in the Northwoods was quite an experience, beautiful scenery, friendly people, and 9 months of winter! After a few years, they decided to relocate to Rockford, the area where Bob grew up. He’s a graduate of Hononegah High School and Rock Valley College.
Bob and Kristan worked together at a large corporately owned funeral/cemetery combo location in the Rockford region prior to opening Grace Funeral & Cremation Services. Bob was hired as a Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer, and was primarily responsible for embalming and preparation of the deceased. He’s an excellent embalmer and restorative artist, and really takes time to make people look the way that they should after death. Kristan worked in the pre-need sales department of the funeral home, assisting families with their pre-need cemetery property and funeral services. She quickly climbed the corporate ladder, accepting positions of greater responsibility at the location. When she left, she was the General Manager and responsible for the day to day operations of the funeral homes and cemeteries.
Bob and Kristan love funeral service. After working in the corporate setting for so many years, they felt called to open Grace Funeral & Cremation Services. They wanted to serve families on their own terms, to offer a variety of service options to client families at an affordable price. They realized from the beginning that in order to build a really great funeral home from the ground up, they’d need to be radically different from any funeral home people had visited or selected before. Bob and Kristan recognize that the traditional approach to funerals is important to some families, and are able to respond to that need. They are also uniquely suited to satisfy the needs of those who choose to let go of tradition and embrace modern trends.
When they aren’t at the funeral home, you can find Bob playing the bass guitar, camping and hanging out with their three boys, Nate (13), Gabe (10), and Eli (7). They are quite possibly the most intelligent, creative and hysterically funny children on the face of the planet. You’ll find Kristan at home reading a book, working in her veggie garden, or stepping on the boy’s Lego bricks. The McNames have a Blue Heeler Mutt named Dingus (yes, she is a dingus); a cat, named Thunder Bug; and three guinea pigs named Chunky, Skunky and Beavey.
Nicki Stram, Office Manager
Nicole Stram joined our staff in 2014. A native of Iowa, Nicki moved to Rockford 18 years ago to attend college. She is the mother of three children; Kylie, Mckinzee and Nolan. Nicki is a crafty person, who loves to make jewelry, doing crafts and knitting. She is also an avid reader. Most of her spare time is joyfully spent attending her teenage daughter’s sporting events, and chasing her toddler son around the house. She attends Rockford First Church, and is a volunteer for the Visiting Nurses Association Money Management Program. Nicki is a Licensed Insurance Producer, and is the Advanced Planning Coordinator and Continuing Care Specialist at the funeral home. When she’s not answering phones and helping prepare for funeral services, you can find her in the community at various senior expos and events.
Curt McNames, Staff Associate
When you visit Grace Funeral & Cremation Services for a visitation or funeral, the first face you'll often see is Curt's. Curt is Bob's dad. He's worked in funeral service for the past decade, and loves chatting with visitors, greeting people and assisting with any needs that arise during the service. Curt grew up in Shirland, graduated from Hononegah High School, and enlisted in the United States Navy shortly after graduation. He's spent most of his professional career operating waste water treatment plants in the Rockton, Pecatonica and Capron. When he's not at the funeral home, you can find him on his farm, feeding and watering his Standard Bred Trotters and Pacers. He's also the proud owner of a three mini-cows, named Roz, Muppet and Big Tasty. (Roz was actually a bribe that Curt purchased for his oldest grandson, Nate. He promised to buy Nate a cow if his grades improved. Nate lost interest in Roz about 10 days after her arrival!) He's a member of the United States Trotting Association, and attends Rockton Methodist Church.
Andy McNames, Staff Associate
Andy was raised in Shirland, and graduated from Hononegah High School. After graduation, he enlisted in the US Navy, where he was stationed in Bremerton, Washington and Haiti. He lives in Delavan, Wisconsin with his wife, Nancy and some loving cats that they rescued from area shelters. Andy and his dad Curt have a pretty extensive collection of vintage AMC cars. They've never seen an AMC that they've been able to say no to, and even built a special barn to house them in on the family farm. Andy assists with funeral services, when he's not working at his full time job. He's amazing with electronics, and travels throughout the Midwest fixing medical equipment, and anesthesia machines in area hospitals.
Nancy Troia - McNames, Staff Associate
Nancy grew up in Southern California, and enlisted in the United States Navy after her graduation from high school. She met her future husband, Andy McNames in the Navy. While stationed on Guam, Nancy was recruited by a local magician, and became a magician's assistant. Nancy continues to work as a magician's assistant in Las Vegas, Nevada and Baraboo, Wisconsin. She's also a talented actress and has had starring roles in television commercials, been employed as an extra in several motion pictures, and had a role in a film that was shot in Northern Illinois. When Nancy's not out doing amazing things in the entertainment field, you can find her representing Grace Funeral & Cremation Services at various health fairs, expos and events in the community.