New ownership, new name for Harlan funeral home
HARLAN — Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home in Harlan is now under new ownership with a new name. Mike Hoy and Scott Nelson recently purchased the funeral home from Seth and Kay Johannsen, and is now operating as Heartland Funeral & Cremation Service.
Hoy congratulated the Johannsens on their retirement.
“We want to thank Seth and Kay for their years of service to the community,” he said. “We bring the same principles and values that have always been here.” Hoy said it’s still a family business, and with it comes a staff of familiar names and faces within the Harlan community. Hoy began his career in funeral service at the age of 14, when he started working for a family-owned funeral home in Council Bluffs in 1992. The business sold when he was in college, and his position was no longer available.
After some time away from the industry, Mike opened Hoy Kilnoski Funeral Home & Crematory in Council Bluffs in August 2011.
Hoy said the relationships and friendships he has made with other area funeral homes led to the purchase of Burmeister-Johannsen, as well as the Ohde Funeral Home, with locations in Manning, Manilla, and Kimballton and the Huebner Funeral Home in Denison, Westside, Schleswig, and Charter Oak.
“We are truly a team,” Hoy said. “It’s about bringing the people and the resources together.”
Scott Nelson is a licensed funeral director who has been involved in several aspects of the funeral industry, including being a Licensed Funeral Director, casket manufacturing and monuments. Scott’s parents, Verne and Ilene Nelson of Harlan, are long-standing members of the community, and the Harlan graduate is looking forward to the opportunity.
“I am excited to be back in Harlan and to serve the people,” he said. Nelson and his wife, Liz, have an infant daughter, Evelyn.
Familiar faces, a new look
Nelson said each member of the staff has served the Harlan community.
Funeral Director Danielle Sondag Mikels is a Harlan Community High School graduate who was raised in the Portsmouth area. Her father, Bill, owns The Spark & Brake Shop Plus in Harlan and her mom, Lisa, is a Branch Office Administrator at Edward Jones in Harlan.
After high school, Danielle joined the Iowa Army National Guard. She and her husband, Bryce, currently live above the Huebner Funeral Home in Denison, but the couple are building a home on her grandparent’s land outside of Portsmouth. “We are eager to move back to the area,” Mikels said. “There are a lot of generations and ties to this community.”
Katie Fitzsimmons grew up in Guthrie Center. After her fiancé passed away unexpectedly in 2013, she switched her career focus from nursing to becoming a Funeral Director. “I have been on the other side of the table,” she said. “Going through such a tragic loss has really made me the Funeral Director that I am today. All grief is different but I understand firsthand what it’s like to lose someone that I loved so dearly.”
Fitzsimmons previously lived in Harlan for three years prior to moving above the Ohde Funeral Home in Manning where she currently resides with her husband, Matt and their two children. “Katie has been a part of our funeral home family for many years”, Hoy added. She began working as a Funeral Director at Hoy-Kilnoski and then transferred to Huebner Funeral Home in Denison when they took ownership in 2020.
Tina Bartelson is a licensed Funeral Director, and she has recently focused on assisting families with pre-planning and pre-funding. Her husband, Matt, is the owner of Bar-T Welding. The couple reside in the Irwin area with their three children, and are awaiting the birth of their fourth child. Bartelson said her goal is to educate families, and she hopes to host pre-planning seminars at the Harlan location.
A renovation and remodel of the funeral home, located at 1401 Garfield Ave. in Harlan, will soon be underway. Hoy said the project includes a renovation of the main floor, which will create a secondary viewing area, a new lobby space, and a functioning reception area in the basement. The reception area could also serve as a community meeting room for various service groups.
“We are excited about what we are doing,” Hoy said.
“It’s more than a business to us. It’s an opportunity to serve people better.”