Ole Hoplin, one of the original founders of the Hoplin-Hitchcock Funeral Home, managed the Brandon Farmer’s Grain Company until 1916 when he and his brother-in-law, David Nelson, purchased the Lowry Hardware, Furniture and Machinery Company. Caskets were among the items of inventory and the two operated the business as Hoplin-Nelson Hardware, Furniture and Undertaking. H.J. Berry of Glenwood did the embalming for the firm until 1920, when Ole received his license as an embalmer from the University of Minnesota.
In 1927, a large home was built in Lowry, which included a preparation room in the basement and a large living room to be used for reviewals and funeral services. A horse drawn hearse, built in 1911, was purchased from the Nelson Funeral Home in Brooten for use during the 1920’s. The spoked wheels were removed and sleigh runners applied during the winter months. The family house in Lowry was used until 1946 when Oliver Hoplin, in partnership with his father Ole and uncles David and Olaf Nelson, purchased the Berry Funeral Home in Glenwood. Oliver had received his licensure in 1936 for funeral directing and embalming. He and his wife, Dorothy, also operated the local ambulance service. In 1962, a large chapel and lobby were built onto the existing structure in Glenwood. Oliver and his brother, Donald, operated the business for many years, faithfully serving the families of the Glenwood, Brooten, Lowry, Villard, Kensington and Starbuck areas. In 2002, the Brooten Chapel was completed, which allowed the funeral home to better serve the families in that area.
Oliver’s daughter, Joyce Hoplin Shea, and her former husband, Michael E. Shea, joined Oliver in 1984, with Oliver's grandson and wife, Michael J. Shea and Lara, becoming members of the family firm in 1992. Oliver died in 1998, after a long battle with cancer. Ole, Oliver, Michael E., Michael J. and Lara were all graduates of the Mortuary Science Department, University of Minnesota. Joyce also was very active in most all aspects of the business. Her commitment and dedication to the business was evident in her warm smile and genuine, caring spirit. Michael Jr. eventually took over the day-to-day management of both locations and continued in that capacity until the summer of 2006 when God called him into children’s ministry. Michael and Lara’s pending departure prompted the family to seek a buyer for the funeral home and it was through mutual church friends that Paul Hitchcock and his wife, Nancy Melgaard Hitchcock, learned of the opportunity to own their own funeral home in Glenwood.
On July 20, 2006, the torch was passed from the Hoplin and Shea families to the Hitchcock family. Paul is a 1997 graduate of the University of Minnesota, with a bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Science. He spent the next 10 years working for various funeral homes in the Cold Spring, St. Cloud and Albany, Minnesota areas. Paul was born and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota and attributes his interest in funeral service to a close family friend who owned the funeral home in Hibbing when he was growing up. Nancy was born and raised in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. She is a licensed attorney, having practiced law in Cold Spring, Minnesota for 14 years before the family’s move to Glenwood. Paul and Nancy have 2 sons.
While much of the funeral home staff has remained unchanged since the sale, in January of 2007 the Hitchcocks welcomed the addition of Dawn (Svec) Jenson, a licensed funeral director, to their staff. Dawn is originally from Lowry and comes to Glenwood from Hutchinson, Minnesota, with 3 years of funeral experience.
Change in life is inevitable and constant. This family-owned firm has witnessed many changes, from beginning operation in Lowry in 1917 out of the family home, to its facility in Glenwood in 1946, the addition of the Glenwood chapel in 1962 and the Brooten chapel in 2002 and, most recently, the sale of the business to the Hitchcock family in July of 2006. Even so, the firm’s vision remains unchanged, as does its commitment to faithfully serve the families who entrust to us the care of their loved ones. After all, the one thing that will never change is our goal of providing excellent service with integrity and compassion, for these values are at the core of who we are.
Horse Drawn hearse currently on display at Pope County History Museum
Original Building Hoplin Funeral Home, Glenwood 1946
Ground Breaking for chapel addition 1962