Project photos by Urban Toad Media
Headshots by Josiah Kopp
From a team of young directors to newly-designed facilities, Boulger Funeral Homes is bringing a fresh approach
With a legacy spanning over 150 years in catering to families in the Red River Valley, Boulger Funeral Homes assures dependability through its compassion, knowledge, and extensive experience during families’ times of need.
Throughout the generations, the Boulger family has been propelled by an unwavering commitment to attention to detail and outstanding care. Today, owner Jim Boulger carries on the legacy with his dedicated staff. Their foremost priority is treating each family with the same consideration as their own, embracing the unique identity of those who walk through their doors.
Backed by a passionate and caring team of professionals, Boulger pledges to honor and celebrate the wishes of you and your loved ones with the utmost dedication. With a few of the youngest funeral home directors in the state, Boulger is setting a new trend in welcoming young professionals to take the lead and carry on the rich legacy Boulger has created over the years.
Recognizing the diversity in cultural backgrounds, financial situations, and immediate concerns of every family, the Boulger team is resolute in collaborating with individuals to address any arising concerns or issues, always approaching them with warmth and a professional attitude.
In tandem with their dedication to service, Boulger has invested significantly in bringing a better experience to families and providing more ways to connect. “We’ve worked hard to bring the funeral industry up with current social and technological environments,” Jim Boulger said. “From our updated and evolving website to the technology utilized in the funeral home, Boulger is embracing the technology changes and expectations of our customers. We also have state-of-the-art projection and television viewing within the funeral home, as well as online streaming for those families whose members may be out of state or unable to attend in person.”
Meet the fourth-generation owner of Boulger Funeral Homes
Although Jim Boulger wasn’t always certain he was going to go into the funeral industry, things fell into place for him while attending the University of Minnesota for his Bachelor of Mortuary Science. “During my junior year of college at the University of St. Thomas (where Jim studied prior for his bachelor in business), I knew I wanted to run a business, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure,” he said. “I was never pushed into doing the family business, but I decided to give it a shot, and I loved it. I love meeting with families and working with my dad, something I feel lucky to be able to do on a daily basis.”
Outside the office, Jim can be found on the golf course, playing pickleball, or perusing a whiskey section looking for something to add to his collection. He also loves spending time with his three kids, fly fishing in Montana, and enjoying the natural beauty.
Meet our Young Team of Directors!
Tia Lopez, Funeral Director
Tia Lopez is a licensed funeral director in both North Dakota and Minnesota and is also a licensed insurance agent in the state of North Dakota. Her role at Boulger is to meet with families in their time of need, conduct end-of-life services, and perform embalming and cosmetics as needed. Outside the office, Tia enjoys weightlifting, thrifting, drinking craft beer, and spending time with family and friends.
Q&A with Tia
You come from an athletic background, having played soccer in college. How does that background in teamwork help drive you in the work you do today with Boulger?
Being a team player has always been a complete mentality for me. Every staff member at Boulger Funeral Home plays an important role in how we serve our families. Every day involves communication and relying on each other for the result which is being there and supporting our families as best as we possibly can in their time of need.
While pursuing your education, when did you realize you wanted to pursue this industry? What drew you to it and how has that passion developed to what it is today?
I have always known I wanted to be a funeral director since I graduated high school. I really thought it was going to be an interesting and rewarding job. It wasn’t until later when I had lost my dad to cancer during my pursuit of this career that I had made my real connection. This became so much more than a job to me—it is being there for a family in some of the toughest moments of their life.
Both you and Hannah are among the youngest directors in the state for this industry—how does that dynamic bring something fresh and new to the experience, and where do you see your strengths really coming into play?
Being a young female funeral director in this state does catch some families by surprise. Times are changing and a lot more women have been coming into the field which was predominantly male for some time. I like to think I give out an ability for families to feel comfortable with me right away. Listening and adapting to what families need has always been a key role in helping families personalize funerals along with staying up to date with technology. We have been able to do way more than we ever have with funeral services including playing personal videos, live streaming, customized printing, and so much more.
What has the funeral home industry taught you about caring for your own loved ones?
It has taught me to check in with each other and always say “I love you.” Always be kind as you never know what someone is going through and treat every family member that has passed as if they were your own. There is a lot to learn from the funeral home industry and I am completely humbled by it.
Hannah Blazinski-Cuhel, Funeral Director
Hannah is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in North Dakota and Minnesota. She and her team of other directors meet with families to plan services, handle all necessary planning and organizing, and direct funeral services. She also goes to the place of someone’s passing to bring them into Boulger’s care and helps provide the necessary care and preparation of the deceased.
Outside the office, Hannah owns a small coffee shop in Downtown Fargo called Revival Specialty Coffee Bar, which opened earlier this fall. “I have been enjoying training my employees and creating fun new drinks for our menu as well as decorating our space and watching it grow,” she said. Hannah also enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, yoga, and spending time with her family
Q&A with Hannah
Your education began at MSUM and then moved on to DMACC—when did you realize this was the industry you wanted to pursue?
I knew in my junior year of high school that I wanted to be a funeral director; I had the opportunity to job shadow at Olsen Funeral Home in Fergus Falls and seeing how much comfort and direction their director was able to provide inspired me to strive to do the same. I went to MSUM for prerequisites and later started working at Boulger. Continuing to witness how much care and support a funeral director provides when they are needed the most confirmed the career I knew I wanted. During the pandemic, I began looking for solely online classes and was able to find a program with DMACC that would allow me to stay with Boulger full-time while completing classes in the evening. I completed my degrees there and subsequently became the youngest person ever to be licensed in Mortuary Science in North Dakota. The in-person experience of being in the funeral home every day gave me such a boost in understanding the ins and outs of the industry; I am so grateful for the time taken by my coworkers to teach me everything they know.
You’ve been a part of Boulger for four years now—what surprised you most about this industry? And what are you personally doing that is unique or different as a director that is giving a fresh approach to the BFH experience?
It surprised me how much each family has an impact on my life. I have met so many diverse and wonderful people and hold a place for each in my heart. It isn’t instinctually easy to trust someone much younger than you with such intricate and important details and it has meant the world to me that these families have put so much faith in me.
Both you and Tia are among the youngest directors in the state for this industry—how does that dynamic bring something fresh and new to the experience, and where do you see your strengths really coming into play?
Being a young female funeral director means that I may be able to make a larger, more diverse crowd comfortable being themselves during their time of need. Tia and I have this in common, which I appreciate as we are able to be such strong supports for one another. Obviously, this career is a heavy one; we take a lot with us emotionally but also need to navigate being unwavering support systems for families that are going through much more than ourselves at the moment. Being able to support each other as we support our families keeps us strong.
Dedicated to giving back
“Both Boulger Funeral Homes and I as an individual are active in giving back. We’ve been lucky to have been a supporter of so many organizations over the years and we continue to strive to do so. Personally, I’m a member of the Sanford Health Foundation Board, Selected Independent Funeral Homes, and I’m also involved in Rotary Club, support BioGirls and Gigi’s Playhouse, and get to coach my son’s soccer team.”– Jim Boulger
Did you know?
Many people may not be aware of the technical training and schooling needed to be in the funeral home industry. Passing both national and state-level boards and serving internships before you’re licensed and able to practice are a couple of the biggest requirements.
A newly designed space to provide comfort and lift your spirits
In addition to their wonderful team, Boulger also recently finished a new remodel project, partnering with interior designer Christen Joy. “When we approached Christen, our main goal was to update the space but keep it feeling comfortable, warm, and inviting,” Jim said. “We try to remodel the funeral home regularly to stay current but never want to lose the feeling of walking into a space where you can feel at home like you’re with family.”
“The Boulger Funeral Home project was designed to feel warm, inviting, and comfortable—these themes are similar to one’s living room, so we designed the spaces to be an extension of a home while layering in the commercial elements that are necessary for day-to-day business,” Christen Joy said.
She and her team opted to keep existing masonry work and millwork, so she coordinated selections to ensure that these elements felt a part of the design instead of feeling like an outdated feature. Warm tones echoed through furniture pieces, wallpaper, paint, and brass accents politely pulled in the kept features.
Did you know?
“It is a common misconception that funeral directors primarily only do the ‘backroom stuff,’ when in reality, 90% of the job involves working with the living, making a tough time a little better.”
From there they played with patterns throughout the flooring and upholstered pieces adding interest and design layers. She worked closely with her talented subcontractors to add built-ins that worked as functional elements (coffee bar, trash, refrigeration, etc.) while being an area for family members to add momentous photographs during services. The updated spaces also include “art TVs” that double as artwork and are used for slideshows. They completed the look with brass bevels, making them truly look like a piece of artwork. Lastly, artwork and accessories were added throughout to complete the ‘extension of home’ feel, creating an environment that is welcoming and warm.
“Christen has been a joy to work with,” The Boulger team said. “She made a challenging project well worth the effort!”
123 10th St S
Fargo, ND 58103