Jan’s overwhelming passion is to serve our families at Highland Memory Gardens. She became our Family Services Representative on June 1, 2015, after having served as our Administrative Assistant and Office Teamwork Coordinator since 2008.
Jan spent the majority of her life living on the east side of Des Moines with her family. A graduate of East High School, she also attended Faith Baptist Bible College. In 2010 she moved to Ankeny where she continues her 40+ year history of teaching private instrumental music lessons.
When Jan is away from HMG she uses her musical abilities by participating in the musical ensemble at Community Baptist Church in Ankeny, She has served as an instrumentalist in churches for over 40 years. Joining with her sister, she also provides special music and “sing-alongs” for area retirement homes. In addition to music, Jan spends time with her family and loves to read.
Tosha EdmundsonOffice Administrative Coordinator
Tosha Edmundson joined Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery in the July of 2018, bringing years of professional office experience from a variety of industries. Tosha started her college career studying graphic design at DMACC in Ankeny and later earned two Bachelors degrees, one in marketing and the other in management, from Iowa State University.
Tosha was born and raised in northwest Iowa and moved to the Des Moines area after high school. She began her family in Ames, while attending Iowa State University and moved to Ankeny before her youngest child started school after accepting her first job after college. Tosha and her husband have remained in Ankeny while raising their three children.
Tosha spends her time away from the office with her family. She enjoys supporting her kids in all their activities and loves cheering on the Ankeny Christian Academy Eagles. Tosha and her mother work together on a hobby business involving refinishing, repurposing and creating home decor. Tosha and her husband are members of Saylorville Church, where they love serving the Lord together.
Julie BakerAdministrative Assistant
Julie Baker joined Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery in April of 2019 as Administrative Assistant. Julie’s outgoing personality and attention to detail is a great asset to our office. Prior to joining our team, Julie worked many years as an accountant doing payroll and tax accounting.
Julie was born and raised in Des Moines. She attended East High School and earned her Associate in Applied Science – Accounting Specialist degree from DMACC. Julie and her husband moved to Ankeny 20 years ago where they raised their two sons.
In her spare time, Julie loves to spend time with her family, especially her three grandchildren, hunting for antiques, traveling and riding her bicycle.
Avonda joined Highland Memory Gardens in June, 2015 as our bookkeeper. She brings with her a welcoming personality, sense of humor and a smile for everyone she meets.
Avonda was born in Texas, where much of her family still resides. A “Navy brat”, she spent her early years moving between Texas and California. Ind 1993, she settled in Ankeny, Iowa, and raised four Ankeny Hawks; two currently living in Colorado and two serving in the National Guard in Louisiana and Wisconsin. She also loves to spoil her three grandchildren.
Avonda is a member of the Ankeny First United Methodist Church, where she uses her creativity on the church’s puppet team, Visual Scriptures, performing within the church, as well as around the state of Iowa and surrounding states. She finds fulfillment sharing God’s Word in a way that surprises the audience, brings smiles to faces and warmth to hearts of all ages.
Luke BerryGrounds Superintendent
Luke joined the HMG staff in the fall of 2015 and was appointed Grounds Superintendent on July 1, 2016. He has proven to be a gifted leader who continues the cemetery’s tradition of compassionate, friendly service to all who enter our Gardens.
Having returned to Iowa after living in Indiana, Luke loves working outdoors and being surrounded by nature in our beautiful gardens.
When away from HMG, Luke enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons. Together they enjoy searching for antiques and other vintage items, watching black-and-white movies and reading old books. Luke also enjoys photography and learning about cars.
Jerry Sheeks began his long career with us when he was just 13 years old and came to work with his father. As our Grounds Superintendent, Jerry has been with Highland Memory Gardens over 55 years. Though Jerry handed the reigns of Grounds Superintendent to his successor, Luke Berry, on July 1, 2016, happily he has chosen to stay on as a part-time seasonal grounds employee, primarily mowing, snow-plowing and an occasional special project. We are thankful for Jerry’s faithfulness to HMG and are happy that retirement doesn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye.
Jerry shares his philosophy of taking pride in his work, treating everyone, living and deceased, with respect and dignity and always being ready to lend a helping hand with all the employees and volunteers at the cemetery.
Family is very important to Jerry and making Highland Memory Gardens the beautiful place that it is has been a Sheeks family tradition for many years, since many of his family have also dedicated a portion of their lives to these Gardens.
When not at HMG you can find Jerry attending his grandkids’ sporting events, completing home improvement projects or enjoying NASCAR events.
Adam J. DavenportGroundskeeper
In November of 2011, HMG welcomed Adam to our full-time staff. Adam started as a seasonal employee in 2007 and continued working with us while pursuing his degree in Computer Science at DMACC and then Grandview University. His degree emphasis was Software Development and Computer Information Systems with a minor in Spanish.
While family members and friends wanted Adam to pursue his programming talents, he finds the work here very rewarding and maintains that he is much happier working outside with his hands than in a cubicle.
Adam takes part in a variety of activities during his spare time such as sampling new flavors of loose-leaf tea, staying up-to-date on all the latest tech news and gadgets, and computer programming. As an Eagle Scout, he also enjoys camping and observing wildlife in their natural habitat.
Jonathan BerryLandscape Specialist
Highland Memory Gardens welcomed Jonathan to our full-time staff in May of 2016.
Jonathan applies his sense of eagerness and hard work in landscaping, planting, and tree trimming as he works alongside our volunteer Master Gardener, Ivan Wikner. He is working diligently to keep each of the gardens looking fresh and clean. In addition to his landscaping duties, Jonathan assists our grounds crew as needed.
When not working, Jonathan enjoys kayaking, camping and airsoft. He is also involved in various ministries in his church.
Robert Canady General Manager
Plans for a career in the death-care industry became a reality when, in 1999, Bob became General Manager of Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery.
Born and raised in Des Moines, Bob was inspired by a neighbor, a local funeral director, to consider a career in funeral service and death care. He was later offered an internship at a funeral home where Bob worked for several years assisting families. Anticipating a career as a funeral director, the illness of his father caused him to alter his plans in order to operate the family business for a time.
Subsequently, his career path changed directions and in the next 25 years Bob worked in a variety of fields of business ranging from investments as a registered representative, to such fields as restaurant and hotel management, secondary school administration and church administration. Bob received his bachelor’s degree from Drake University in Finance in 1977.