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


For over 100 years, four generations of the Bolger family have been providing the highest quality of funeral and cremation service to families in the Lakeland area. This proud heritage of service is due to the confidence placed in us by the families we have been privilaged to serve.


In February 1896, brothers Patrick B. Bolger, Michael J. Bolger and Thomas M. Bolger founded Bolger Brothers. Bolger Funeral Home was actually established by accident. The three Bolger brothers came to Minocqua to establish residence and in so doing purchased the McLaughlin Grocery and General Merchandise Store; included in the store's inventory was a casket that had been ordered for a local resident. From here on, the funeral business was established in Minocqua. 

The Bolger Bros. were working in the funeral industry for nine years before the state of Wisconsin mandated that all funeral directors had to be licensed, in 1905. As law went into effect, the brother's attended school and Patrick B. received license #4, Michael J. license #5 and Thomas M. #6. 


As the customs and traditions of funerals have changed over the years so did the location of the funeral home. The Bolger Bros. operated the grocery store, mercantile store and funeral business from the McLaughlin location until spring of 1900. They then built the first brick building in Minocqua which became known was the Bolger Block. There general store was then moved to what is now a part of Glik's and T. Murtaugh's Pub. A new building was then erected on Chicago Avenue with a warehouse for a livery and storage of caskets, which is now where Ann Marie's Annex is located. The Bolger Brothers operated there until about 1925, when the building was moved to its present location and remodeled. 

Prior to 1910, one of the many tasks of the undertaker was to build caskets; usually a few were made in advance but the stock was not large. Around 1910, manufacturers started their own casket industry. During this time
the Bolger's had horse drawn hearses. They were elaborate, hand carved vehicles which probably cost about $500.00, a large sum in those days. The hearses were in use until about 1925, when motorized vehicles took over. In 1933, Bolger Ambulance Service was added and in service until 1974. In 1934, Patrick E. Bolger, son of Thomas M. Bolger, representing the second generation, graduated from Goodman College of Embalming and received license #2440. To make ends meet, Patrick also worked at the Post Office and ran the ambulance service.

A completely new, colonial style funeral home was built in 1950 and later enlarged in 1975 to make it completely handicap accessible. Patrick A. Bolger, son of Patrick E., representing the third generation, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1957 holding license #3475. Patrick A. married Janet Bolger, who still resides in Minocqua. Michael J. Bolger, son of Patrick A., representing the 4th generation, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1986, holding license #4760. Patrick A. Bolger died this same year. In 1988, Bolger Funeral Home added a crematory to better serve the families in the Lakeland area. In 1996, Michael Bolger became owner and took on the name Bolger Funeral and Cremation Services. Patrick E. Bolger died this same year. In 2000,  Bolger Funeral and Cremation Services purchased a Funeral Home located in Woodruff, Wisconsin. Bolger's now has two convenient locations to better serve the families of the Northwoods.


Jill (Sisterman) Yelton became the newest addition, as a licensed apprenctice, in 2008. The following year, in 2009, Jill became a licensed funeral director. In 2012, both Funeral Home's have undergone transformations that now include a retail and monument display, as well as reception areas to accommodate luncheons. Today, Mike Bolger continues to carry on the tradition of care entrusted in him by the Lakeland community.


Our Valued Staff

Mike  Bolger

Mike Bolger, Owner/Funeral Director

Mike Bolger was born and raised in Minocqua. He attended MHLT Elementary School and Lakeland Union High School (Class of 1979). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science from the University of Minnesota. Mike is married to Sandy Bolger, who is the office administrator. They have four children, Hannah, Conor, Kevin and Erin. Mike is a member of the Father Dodge Knights of Columbus Council, Holy Family Catholic Church/Ascension Lutheran Church and the Fence Lake Property Assoc. He enjoys being active and outdoors when not working. Other activities include water/snow skiing, sailing, triathalons/marathons, biking, spending time with family and their golden "Lena".


Sandy  Bolger

Sandy Bolger

Sandy Bolger was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota. She graduated from Luther College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Sandy's family has had a cabin on Fence Lake (Lac du Flambeau) for many years, which brought her here for summers where she worked at area businesses. Sandy married Mike Bolger in 1986 and they have four children, Hannah, Conor, Kevin and Erin. She has been active in many area swim programs. Sandy began a learn to swim program at Timber Ridge and has been a Lakeland Union High School swim club coach for many years. Sandy is a member at Ascension Lutheran Church in Minocqua, Lakeland Morning Rotary, and is the board President for the Wisconsin Nordic Development Group. In her spare time she enjoys skiing, running marathons, biking, water sports and enjoying the outdoor.


Jill  Yelton

Jill Yelton, Funeral Director

Jill Yelton was born and raised in Rothschild, Wisconsin and graduated from D.C. Everest High School in 2003. She is also a 2008 graduate from the University of Minnesota earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mortuary Science. Upon graduation, Jill moved to the Lakeland area when the opportunity arose to serve as a funeral director along side Mike Bolger. Her passion for funeral service came from curiosity that has surrounded her through a large exposure to death. Jill is married to Lucas Yelton, who works for his long-time family owned business, HT Glass & Mirror. Jill and Luke live in Minocqua with their daughter Sophia and dog, Grizz. Jill is a member at Ascension Lutheran Church in Minocqua and a member of the Minocqua Gun Club. She enjoys spending time with family and friends. Jill is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, enjoys trap shooting, fishing, hunting, snowshoeing, yoga and pretty much everything the Northwoods has to offer.


Patricia  Itzkowitz

Patricia Itzkowitz, Pre-Need Specialist

Patricia Itzkowitz is the newest addition to Bolger Funeral Home. Her personal experience with husband Gary’s funeral in 2012 encouraged her to pre-plan for herself. In 2016 she became a licensed intermediary, and obtained her Pre-need Certification. She looks forward to assisting the families at Bolger Funeral Home, where helping others achieve the peace of mind is her key objective. Patricia and her fiancé Steve enjoy spending time with family and friends, camping and boating in the Northwoods and traveling throughout the country in their fifth-wheel.


Dennis Turner

Dennis Turner, Funeral Director Assistant

Dennis likes helping and meeting people. He is active at the Lakeland Food Pantry and his church, Peace Lutheran. He and his wife Nancy live in Arbor vitae.


Bob Hille

Bob Hille, Funeral Director Assistant

Bob is one of Bolger Funeral Home's funeral director assistants. He recently retired as a Crime Lab Director in Colorado and has been living in the northwoods for the last three years. Bob and his wife, Peg, have three sons and four grandchildren. They are active members of Peace Lutheran Church in Arbor Vitae.