History & Staff

We 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.

Our History

Our funeral home dates back to April, 1950, when the business was established as the Newman Funeral Home by Oskaloosa native John C. Newman. After serving his country during World War II, John attended the old Hohenschuh-Carpenter College of Embalming in St. Louis, Missouri. Intent on owning and operating his own funeral home in Oskaloosa, he purchased the stately, colonial style residence at the corner of South 7th Street and First Avenue East in Oskaloosa, and converted it into a funeral home.

Through the years, as the business grew and the facility was enlarged by additions, Mr. Newman was joined, in 1973, in the operation of the business by Joseph F. Bates. Mr. Bates is a 1971 graduate of Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa, and a graduate of the Kentucky School of Mortuary Science in Louisville, Kentucky, and became a partner in the funeral home in 1977.

In February, 1979, John Newman died very suddenly of a heart attack, and the reins of the business were taken up by Joe Bates, assisted by his wife, Carol Bates. In 1981, the Bates' became the sole owners of the business, intent to maintain the high standards of excellence established through the years, while building the business on the foundation of the past.

Through the 1980's, Joe and Carol Bates continued to operate the Newman Funeral Chapel, while becoming very active members within the community through various civic organizations. In addition to local organizations, the funeral home is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association and the Iowa Funeral Directors Association, and been recognized for service excellence from those professional groups. On July 1, 1990, the name of the funeral business was officially changed from Newman Funeral Chapel to Bates Funeral Chapel. The new name was the only change. The Bates' continued operating the funeral home from the original, centrally located site, 114 South 7th Street, as has been the case in it's 50 plus year history.

In June, 1998, the former Powers Funeral Home of Oskaloosa merged business operations with the Bates Funeral Chapel. The Powers facility (302 First Avenue East) was closed, and all business dealings and all records and files were transferred to the Bates facility, and the combined business operates under the name of the Bates Funeral Chapel, and remains locally owned and operated.

Michael Sytsma returned to the funeral chapel in March, 2001, after graduating from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, and completed his internship under the preceptorship of Joe Bates, and is now a licensed funeral director.

In May, 2003, the funeral chapel received the Service Business of the Year award for 2002 from the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group.

As we proceed into the new millennium of business in Oskaloosa, the staff of the Bates Funeral Chapel includes Mike Sytsma, Joe Bates, Josh DeLong, Holly Cully, and Mari Job.


Our Valued Staff

Michael  L. Sytsma

Michael L. Sytsma, CFSP

Mike graduated from Oskaloosa Senior High School in 1998, and attended Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. Mike graduated cum laude from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in Cincinnati, Ohio in March of 2001; became a licensed Funeral Director in 2002. Mike and his wife Stacey along with their children Dawson and Addison reside in Oskaloosa. He serves on the Oskaloosa Public Library Board of Trustees, and the board of LOVE INC in Oskaloosa. Mike is a member of Elks, Eagles, American Legion and is also a member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice. Mike is also a member of the Central Reformed Church in Oskaloosa. He, too, gives talks to church and school groups, and is a member of IFDA and NFDA.


Joseph F.  Bates

Joseph F. Bates, CFSP, CPC

A 1971 graduate of Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, and a graduate of the Kentucky School of Mortuary Science in Louisville, Kentucky, Joe has been a licensed funeral director since 1973. He is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association and the Iowa Funeral Directors Association, as well as many Oskaloosa clubs and organizations, including Past President of the Oskaloosa Kiwanis Club and Past Grand Knight of the local Knights of Columbus. He is recognized as a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and has also attained the Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) designation from the Funeral Service Educational Foundation. He has presented many in-service training programs to nursing homes and hospice staff and volunteers, as well as conducting tours for church, school, and other interested organizations. Joe semi-retired in 2010 and is now Of Counsel.


Carol I.  Bates

Carol I. Bates

Carol was the rock upon which Bates Funeral Chapel built its reputation for integrity, dignity, and respect for all life. Carol died July 11, 2010, but her legacy and our continued commitment to her values moves us forward, inspired by her dignity, grace, and professionalism. We shall never forget her, nor her dedication to our funeral chapel and community.

Eternal rest, grant unto her, O Lord.


Joshua J. DeLong

Joshua J. DeLong, Funeral Director

Josh is a native of Oskaloosa and a 2004 graduate of Oskaloosa Senior High School. After high school Josh attended Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa and then graduated in August 2007 from the Des Moines Area Community College Mortuary Science program in Ankeny. Josh received his funeral director's license in 2008. Josh and his wife Katherine along with their son Hayden reside in Oskaloosa.


Mari  Job

Mari Job

Mari has worked part time at the funeral home since 1989, assisting on funerals and visitations. She is married to Steve Job and is an avid collector of antiques.


Holly M.  Cully

Holly M. Cully

Holly is our Office Manager. She graduated from Oskaloosa Senior High School in 2001. Holly and her husband Sean along with their three children, Caleb, Jayden, and Emily reside in Oskaloosa.