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Funeral director true to rural roots with latest move

Josh Roubal has joined the staff of Hill Funeral Home and Cremation Services as a funeral director and pre-planning specialist. Roubal will devote time to all three of the business' locations, in Ellsworth, Prescott and River Falls. Bill Kirk photo

Josh Roubal's experiences while pursuing his mortuary science career around the upper Midwest have taken him from the city to the country.

Still in college, Roubal worked at the Cook County (Ill.) Morgue in Chicago as part of his education practicum. After graduation, his first jobs were at funeral homes in the metropolitan areas of eastern and central Wisconsin.

But the upper Michigan native has since come to the western side of the state and is getting back to his small-town roots. Joining Hill Funeral Home and Cremation Services as a funeral director earlier this month, he said Wednesday he feels comfortable with the rural atmosphere and friendly people here.

"I am honored to assist families in planning a meaningful and healing funeral experience that is tailored to their individual needs," he said.

Roubal's hometown of Stephenson, Mich., has a population he estimated at around 900. There, his parents, Scott and Laurie, own a nursing home with a bed count of between 60 and 65. Their example in caring for others influenced his career choice, he said.

At Stephenson High School, from where he graduated in 1998, he especially enjoyed math and science he said, classes that have helped him in his chosen field. He also played baseball on a community team, traveling throughout the Upper Peninsula as a shortstop, third baseman and pitcher.

He attended Bay de Noc College in Escanaba, Mich., to take prerequisite courses before entering mortuary school, he said. Meantime, he worked at a fabricating company in Menominee, Mich.

Following two years at the Escanaba college (he graduated there in 2001), Roubal went to the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Ill., which he picked because of its positive reputation. He said he took part in its one-year accelerated program.

"It was a well-rounded program," he said, listing studies in ethics, chemistry, science, anatomy and business. He took 33-to-34 credits per quarter to complete this accelerated program.

Once he gained a degree, he underwent an exam for national boards, he said. Passing that test, he decided on Wisconsin as the state where he'd practice. This past January, he also became licensed in Minnesota.

"I was familiar with the Green Bay area and the Fox Valley," he explained, noting he served an apprenticeship at a funeral home in Neenah in 2002, the year he graduated from Worsham.

Roubal moved to Wausau and took employment at the Peterson-Kramer Funeral Home, which has five locations, he said. He spent a year-and-a-half there, then came to the O'Connell Family Funeral Homes in Hudson and Baldwin in 2007.

Single, he occasionally returns to his home area, where he has a cabin. In his spare time, he likes hunting, fishing, golfing and downhill skiing. But he's dedicated himself to helping others through his calling in life: Funeral service.

"I am proud to be on staff at Hill Funeral Homes because it exemplifies the highest of standards in the profession while providing outstanding services to families," he said.

"Scott and I are very happy to introduce Josh to the communities we serve," said Stacy Hill, co-owner of Hill Funeral Home with her husband Scott. "Josh truly understands the concept of personalized service and small community business. We feel he'll be a great asset to our family business."

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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