By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Celebrating a 100 years: Hamlin Hansen Kosloski Funeral Home


October 10, 2019

Courtesy Mike Kosloski

Robert E. Hamlin and the first motorized hearse from 1928.

It was 1919 when Robert and Mabel Hamlin came to Moose Lake and started an undertaker service. The business exists today as Hamlin Hansen Kosloski Funeral Home. A 100-year Anniversary Celebration will be on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 1 - 3 p.m. with a service of remembrance at 3 p.m. at the funeral home at 609 Folz Boulevard.

Mike Kosloski, the current owner of the business, stated that there have only been four owners of the business in its 100-year history: Robert and Mabel Hamlin, their son and wife, Wes and Gen Hamlin, Glenn and Carole Hansen and Kosloski.

According to a history, complied by Wes Hamlin, his father, Robert, who had worked for his uncle in his funeral home in Pine City, first came to Moose Lake in 1918.

"Because my father was active in the funeral home business, he was asked to come and help with burial of the dead in Moose Lake after the Oct. 12, 1918 fire," Hamlin wrote.

Hamlin also wrote that his father had been impressed with Moose Lake and knew that the people would rebuild. His parents earned their mortician's licenses and moved to Moose Lake in 1919. They then purchased a building in Soo Hill for a mortuary and a furniture store. The building next door was later purchased and the space between the two buildings was filled in with new construction and a second floor added. That building still exists across Folz Boulevard from the current funeral home.

Robert and Mabel Hamlin were to be reminded of the 1918 fire a year later when two more bodies were found.

"There had been two deaths from the fire that were found in 1920," said Kosloski. "One body was found in January and another found in April. And then they had deaths from the smallpox epidemic in 1924."

The Depression in 1929 hit the business hard. "The furniture business suffered tremendously," the history stated. "The population of the village had grown to 700 and it seemed like it would not grow larger."

A light appeared on the horizon a few years later.

"In 1936, the State of Minnesota decided to build a state hospital in Moose Lake," Kosloski read from the history. "The population grew to 1,100 and, later, up to 1,600. That hospital boosted the economy greatly."

Robert and Mabel's son, Wes, had received his mortician's license and joined the business in 1939. The war interrupted his career but the family moved back to Moose Lake in 1946, the history stated.

"Plans to build a new furniture store next to the Lake Theater progressed," it said in the history. "The grand opening took place in 1953, and the business flourished."

The two Hamlin families hired dedicated, skillful workers, three of whom stand out.

"Jim Almquist, Roy Jacobson, and Lloyd Halverson helped out at both the furniture store and the mortuary," said Kosloski. "The families' first vehicles served as the family car, hearse and delivery truck. The funeral home had a station wagon for an ambulance but the ambulance calls were disrupting the work of the crews, and the workers at the funeral home had zero medical training. The ambulance was donated to Mercy Hospital in 1968 and the hospital took over the ambulance service."

The mortuary grew. Funeral homes in Finlayson and Barnum were purchased, said Kosloski.

A new funeral home was planned and construction started in 1972.

"An arson attempt was made on the new building under construction in February 1973," he added. "It was not successful. The architect and construction crews consisted of current or past residents of the Moose Lake area."

The furniture business was sold to Bob and George Macaulay in 1974, and the funeral home sold to Glenn and Carole Hansen in 1976.

Kosloski came to work for Hansen in 1987, while he was still in high school, he said.

"I received my mortuary science license in 1992, and purchased the business in 1998," he said.

"We go where the customer wants us to go and serve them the best way that we can. There has been a lot of hard work and dedication of the previous owners that created the legacy of the business. That's why we include their names as the name of the business out of respect for their hard work and what they built in Moose Lake. To me, it is an honor to carry on what they started."

Kosloski said that their business practices had to adapt to changing times.

"Cremations were 16 percent in the past but now it is 70 percent," he explained. "Staff training and education has also increased. We had training this year to help us do better. We learned how to make everyone understand why we do what we do, and the importance of it."

More people are pre-planning their funerals, and Kosloski has brought on two more staff people to assist with that process, Troy Janssen and Andy Pawlitschek. Katie Sabe started her career by helping out at the funeral home when she was in high school and joined the staff in December after she earned her mortuary science license.

"I have to take care of helping families that have lost a loved one," he said. "I can't do both that and pre-planning. There aren't enough hours in the day."

As the business continues to plan and carry out 80 to 100 burials a year, Kosloski said that he is looking to the future. His has investigated a different process of taking care of a body, alkaline hydrolysis, which works like cremation but with a chemical process instead. And he has looked at replacing or remodeling the existing building.

"I had an architect draw up plans but, when I saw the cost, it was sticker shock," he said. "I will continue to work on it."

For more information, contact the Hamlin Hansen Kosloski Funeral Home at 218-485-4429.

Courtesy Mike Kosloski

Staff of the funeral home posed for a pictured: (left to right) Abby Anderson, Mike Kosloski, Ann Kosloski, Katie Sabe, Amanda Brown, and Dave Kolles.


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