2004-12-11 / News

‘Family Plots’ Mortuary Series on A&E TV Features Wissmillers, Island Visitors

The Wissmiller Family are frequent Mackinac Island vacationers, and have relatives in the Petoskey area.
The Wissmiller Family are frequent Mackinac Island vacationers, and have relatives in the Petoskey area. The Wissmiller family of California, Michigan natives and frequent visitors to Mackinac Island, are featured in an A&E television series called “Family Plots.” The program, which began as a documentary about a family-owned mortuary, has evolved into a reality series and is being filmed for its second season at the mortuary in Poway, California, just north of San Diego, reported Shonna Smith.

Several members of the family are employed at the mortuary and are featured on the series, including the family’s father, Chuck Wissmiller, a funeral director, mother, Sue Wissmiller, and sisters Melissa Wissmiller (funeral director), Emily Wissmiller (office manager), and Shonna Wissmiller Smith (funeral director).

The family, originally from Detroit and the Grand Rapids area, has enjoyed summers on Mackinac Island and in Petoskey for many years, Mrs. Smith said, and Sue Wissmiller was employed at the Island House years ago.

After answering an ad placed by the network in a mortuary trade journal, the Wissmiller family’s business was selected from among 2,000 applicants for the project.

The A&E show, Mrs. Smith said, can be “both funny and sad.”

“It’s about what we do for families, and it’s a really different type of show,” she said. “It is done very appropriately, and it shows that we are a family whose livelihood is to take care of those who have lost loved ones. It shows how hard it is, and the stresses behind the scenes. We’ve been really grateful for this opportunity, and we think it’s a good thing we’re doing.”

The family has received about 10,000 cards, faxes, and letters from people across the United States and Canada regarding the program, she said, and two months ago they were personally invited to meet the cast of HBO’s “The Sopranoes.” Arrangements are being made for some Sopranoes cast members to appear on the mortuary show.

“Family Plots” is currently shown in re-runs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on A&E, with the debut of the new season scheduled for April.

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