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Cremation Society opens Duluth chapel

Prompted by the number of calls from the Duluth area, the Cremation Society of Minnesota and First Memorial Funeral Chapel opened a 13,000-square-foot facility at 4100 Grand Ave. in Duluth.

Prompted by the number of calls from the Duluth area, the Cremation Society of Minnesota and First Memorial Funeral Chapel opened a 13,000-square-foot facility at 4100 Grand Ave. in Duluth.
The society and chapel were started in 1955 by Leo Waterston in the Twin Cities area. The Waterston family lived above the funeral home when the business was opened. The Waterstons now operate five facilities in two states. Kevin and Mark, sons of Leo, run the business.
Forty percent of all deaths in St. Louis County result in cremations, said Kevin Waterston. Many local residents know of the Cremation Society of Minnesota either because they've registered with the society or have traveled to the Twin Cities to use their cremation services.
"We've had a telephone listing here for years, so people know about the society," Waterston said.
Membership in the Cremation Society is by registration. Some 25,000 people are registered with the society.
There are various ways cremation can be handled. There is the traditional funeral service with cremation. A direct cremation involves simple cremation without any service or people present for reviewal.
With locations in Edina, Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, the Cremation Society of Minnesota takes care of "roughly 20 percent of all cremations in Minnesota," Waterston said.
The society also operates in Eau Claire, Wis. The Duluth office is the fifth in the Waterston network.
In addition to cremation services, the $1 million building on Grand houses First Memorial Funeral Services. It offers a large chapel to seat 150 attendees, a small chapel that holds 20, a reception area, offices and an area where customers can see products, merchandise and resource materials.
The reception room allows for clients to host a reception following memorial services. Clients supply refreshments or work with a caterer.
"It makes it easier for the family. With the reception room here, people can move right into that area. Often, when people have to drive to another location for a reception, many just don't make it to the reception," said Doreen Green, receptionist at First Memorial Funeral Chapel.
Green works with her husband Joe Green, who is the funeral director for First Memorial. Green is a licensed funeral director. Working in the Duluth area for the past several years, Joe Green said he likes the people he meets in the business.
"The person who died is gone, so you're dealing with their families. Ninety percent of the families are just great," Green said.
Though the grand opening of First Memorial is a few weeks away, the first memorial service has already been held. "Our customers already sent a nice card," Joe Green said.

Sharon Almirall is a business writer for the Budgeteer News and can be reached at 723-1207 or sharon.almirall@mx3.com .

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