History & Staff

Personalized service options allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life, we invite you to learn more about where we came from, our vision, and the dedicated people behind our work.

A History of Caring

“Northland Cooperative Burial Association” was established on April 24, 1936. Twenty one area cooperatives were involved in the initial start up of the funeral home. The first board of directors meeting was held on May 19, 1936. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss and approve the Articles of Incorporation and By Laws. Discussion was also held on collecting membership fees and donations.

The second meeting of the board of directors was held on August 4, 1936 to review the applications for the funeral director position. There were four applicants for the job: Carl Olund of Duluth, E.J. Costello of Iron River, WI, A.V. Olson of St. Paul and C.A. Anderson of New York Mills. Of the four applicants, Mr. Carl Olund of Duluth was offered the job. Starting salary was $40.00 per week.

The next item was to find a location for the new funeral home. The board inspected properties owned by Fred Giesler, Dan McGilvary and Frank Yetka. They purchased the property and building owned by Frank Yetka on Cloquet Avenue and 13th St. for $4500.00 and the building was renovated.

The cost of a complete funeral service was to be fixed at three times the cost of the casket. Copies of the funeral bills are still on file at the funeral home. The cost of a funeral in 1937 was approximately $100.00 -$145.00. A spray of flowers was $3.00 and a double casket spray was $10.00.

The first hearse purchased was a 1937 Packard Hearse with a side loader for $2600.00

In September of 1937 the board of directors met with the owners of the Berg Funeral Home in Moose Lake. Northland Cooperative Mortuary purchased the Berg Funeral Home, the equipment, inventory and hearse for $1025.00, paying $100.00 down payment with the balance due in one year. The rate of interest was 3%. The building was then rented out for $15.00 per month.

Late in 1940, the funeral home, having financial trouble, borrowed $3800.00 from Trico Coop Oil Co. to pay off Mr. Yetka for the real estate and to pay the taxes. On January 17, 1941 the real estate was purchased by Trico and the funeral home then paid rent to Trico.

Rudolph Beltt was hired to replace Carl Olund in 1940.  In 1941 he married his wife, Elsie. Even though Elsie was never an official employee of Northland Mortuary, she was often the person who was expected to be available to answer the telephone when Rudy  was unavailable or otherwise occupied.  A second funeral director by the name of John Delling was hired to help Rudy.  He was seriously injured in an automobile accident in the early 1950's and left funeral service.  In 1958 Milton Chabot was hired.  Rudy left Northland Mortuary in 1968 after 28 years of service.  

In 1944 the Articles of Incorporation were amended and the name was changed to Northland Cooperative Mortuary. In 1958 the name changed to Northland Mortuary. In 1974 the name was changed again, this time to Northland Chapel. On July 30, 1984 the Articles of Incorporation were amended and the name was changed to Northland Funeral Home, Inc.

In 1980 Northland Funeral Home purchased real estate in Tamarack and operated a funeral home there until 1992.  

Milt Chabot's untimely death in 1982 left an opening that was soon filled by Jeff Borgos.  Jeff continued working for Northland Funeral Home until 1993 at which time Bob Atkins was hired and a year later was joined by his wife, Karen.  

In 1985 Northland Funeral Home purchased the school building in Mahtowa. The school was renovated and Northland Funeral Home operated this location until November of 2002.

In June of 1991 land was purchased on 14th Street for the future site of a new funeral home. The site was the former Matlock farm. Northland Funeral Home continued to rent from Trico until April 15, 1995 at which time the funeral home moved to its new location at 801 14th St.

Northland Funeral Home continued to operate as a cooperative funeral home until January 1, 2009 when it was sold to the current funeral directors, Bob and Karen Atkins.

The name was then changed to Atkins-Northland Funeral Home and Cremation Service to reflect the change in ownership. Bob and Karen have since retired as owners and funeral directors. 

Thank you Bob and Karen Atkins!

This year we say goodbye to Bob and Karen Atkins, who have retired as owners and funeral directors. Bob and Karen are known for providing compassionate, kind, and professional services to all who walk through our doors. They have set a standard of excellent service in our community and will be greatly missed. Thank you Bob and Karen Atkins!





Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care

A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well-lived. Our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.

Brett Andrews
Licensed Funeral Director

Brett is a 1998 graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in Mortuary Science.  He is a second-generation funeral director.  Brett has worked as a funeral director in Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN prior to coming to Atkins-Northland Funeral Home.  He finds funeral service rewarding by being able to assist families in their time of grief.  Brett enjoys spending time with his family and traveling.   



Edward Nielsen
Funeral Director

Ed grew up in the small but hearty town of Kingston, MN and graduated from Kimball High School in 2013. Ed went on to further his education at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson and then transferred to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities to graduate with his Bachelor’s in Mortuary Science in 2019. Ed has helped families from all over the state of MN and is happy to continue that here in Cloquet. “I feel privileged to help families in their time of need and hope that I can serve in any way possible to bring ease at such a difficult time”. 

In his spare time, Ed enjoys being in the outdoors of our great state of Minnesota, playing basketball, working on construction projects and traveling the world with his friends. 



Sheila Quiram
Administrative Assistant

Sheila grew up in Cloquet and graduated from Cloquet High School. She currently lives in Esko and is married to Mark. They have one son, Paul, who is married to Eva and they have a son, Matvei.  Sheila has worked as a geologist in the Barnum area and then went on to work at Potlatch in the Research and Development Department for 19 years until Sappi purchased Potlatch and closed Research and Development. Sheila has worked at Atkins Northland Funeral Home since 2005 and finds it very rewarding helping families through this difficult experience.



Stacy Leonard
Funeral Attendant

Stacy grew up in Ontario, Canada and has lived in Cloquet since 2017.  Stacy has worked in customer service since she was 15 years old and will be going back to school to pursue her degree as a funeral director to fulfill her dream career.  Stacy’s hobbies are hiking, camping, gardening, anything with outdoor activities and spending time with my family.  She has 4 children and 4 grandchildren.  She finds it very rewarding helping families through this difficult experience.



Phill Powers
Funeral Attendant

Phill grew up in Marion, Ohio and after high school he joined the Air Force. He was assigned to Duluth for the next four years. After the service and while attending UMD, he met and married Charlotte Hill. After graduating from UMD, Phill worked as a probation officer for 30 years. During that time he also served 18 years in the Minnesota Air National Guard. He has lived in Esko since 1974 and he and Charlotte raised their two children, Scott and Christina there. After the passing of Charlotte in 2006, Phill started working at the Atkins Northland Funeral Home. In 2009 he married Linda Levar. Phill has always been active in the Esko community, serving his church, the Esko School Board, the Esko Education Foundation Board, and teaching martial arts, just to name a few.



Leah Blackwell
Funeral Attendant

Leah grew up in Lubbock, Texas and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History from Oklahoma Christian University. She then earned a master’s degree in History from Texas Tech University, where she stayed on to work at the university’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library helping to develop and digitize the archive’s oral history collection. When her husband accepted a job in Duluth, Minnesota, the pair moved north with their pet potbellied pig, rabbits, and cat in tow. Leah worked for several years in Duluth as a library technician where she specialized in children’s programming. In her free time, she works on various art projects and plays the ukulele.  



Emily Debele
Hostess

Emily has been a Cloquet resident since 1970, coming from the Twin Cities but is a native of North Dakota. She retired from Queen of Peace Catholic Church in 2000 where she worked as the office manager and bookkeeper. Emily is married to Arlin Debele and they have three children and eight grandchildren. She has worked at Atkins Northland Funeral Home since 2001.



Judy Wiles
Hostess

Judy is married to Ray and together they have one daughter, Stacey. Judy worked as an LPN at Miller Dwan Burn/ICU Unit for 41 years, retiring in 2008 and soon thereafter joined the staff at Atkins Northland Funeral Home. She is active in Our Savior's Lutheran Church where she has been a member since 1976. Judy and Ray enjoy their country life on 40 acres west of Cloquet. They have a rescue cat named Missy and several deer that visit daily. Judy enjoys her time outside with her flower gardens, walking on their trails in the woods and time with friends. In the winter she enjoys reading.



Debby Borin
Hostess

Debby has been a Cloquet resident since 1982 where she and her husband, Wayne raised two children. She is active in St. Paul's Lutheran Church and loves to read, knit and crochet. Debby has been with Atkins Northland Funeral Home since 2015.



Manya Teorey
Kitchen Staff

My name is Manya Teorey.  I live in Cloquet.  I enjoy riding motorcycles.



Kayla Voelker
Student

Kayla grew up in East Grand Forks Minnesota.  Her husband Jared and Kayla moved to Superior Wisconsin.  Kayla and Jared have two dogs, a Greek Tortoise, and a cat that thinks she a dog.  Kayla is currently in school to become a Funeral Director.  Kayla is a licensed insurance agent that helps with selling life insurance with the Pre-Needs.  In Kayla’s free time she likes to read, go hiking, and traveling the world.