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 History

For over 124 years, four generations of the Bolger Family have been providing the highest quality of funeral and cremation service to families in the Lakeland area. As of January 1, 2020, the Bolger Family entrusted the future of their family business to Jill Yelton. 

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 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 work alongside Jill Yelton, as they both continue to carry on the tradition of care entrusted to them by the Lakeland community.

Our Valued Staff

  • Mike  Bolger

    Mike Bolger, 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. They have four children, Hannah, Conor (Tiril), Kevin and Erin and a grandson Malte. 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 his sons dog "Saga".

  • Jill  Yelton

    Jill Yelton, Owner/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 two daughters, Sophia and Vivian and their 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, yoga and pretty much everything the Northwoods has to offer.
    Jill became the owner on January 1, 2020.

  • 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 Nanci 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.