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Wise Family Funeral and Cremation Services observes 15 years of service

The staff of the Wise Family Funeral and Cremation Services are observing their 15th anniversary in Hastings this month. Left to right are Sarah Wise-Schwieger, Scott Borchers, Mike Wise, Mary Wise, Dick Wise and Darliss Wise. (Submitted photo)

Mike Wise has always found satisfaction from being involved with people.

In the 15 years he and his wife Mary have owned and managed the Wise Family Funeral and Cremation Services here in Hastings, that has not changed.

And for a business that helps people during some of the most emotional and devastating times in their lives, that is not easy.

“It’s about helping people get through it,” said Mike Wise. “I’m proud to be doing it.”

Wise, born and raised in Hastings, attended Hastings Parochial school (now Seton) and then Hastings High School. He knew the Don and Peach Ellis family, which previously owned and managed the funeral home. Wise would eventually buy the funeral home from their son Tom.

He enrolled at the University of Minnesota. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mortuary science in 1994 and became a licensed mortician in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“That was the first class at the University of Minnesota that had 50 percent women and 50 percent men,” said Wise.

Wise worked at a Twin Cities funeral home (the main location was in Edina), which was where he met his wife, Mary. Still, the ties to Hastings remained strong as his parents and other family members lived here.

His commitment to his career choice remained strong.

“Our job was more of a pastoral care one,” he said. “We were the caregivers.”

After the couple married, they lived in the Twin Cities area. But the opportunity to come home emerged when Tom Ellis decided to sell the funeral home.

“With Hastings, we had – have – so many connections,” said Wise. “There were the people we see in the grocery store, see at our children’s games during the week.”

“Mike and I discussed it back and forth,” said Mary Wise. “It became final May 1, 2001.”

There have been no regrets with the decision as the Wises returned to Hastings, owned and managed the business and lived in the family area. Mike’s sister, Sarah Wise-Schwieger, is the office manager. Scott Borchers is the preplanning consultant and Dick and Darliss Wise, Mike’s parents, are also assistants.

One of the toughest funerals – none has ever been easy – was the death of his sister, Stacy, from cancer.

“That was tough, the loss of her, and doing it myself,” said Mike Wise. He was also reaching out to his parents and other family members while dealing with his own grief at the time.

Within the past 20 years, there have been many changes in the funeral home business.

“Cremation is growing and growing,” said Mike Wise. “One factor is the cost, but there are more options with the service.”

Another change through the years, “what I have seen here in Hastings, is with the type of service people want to have,” he said. “We still have the traditional, more formal services; we also have the celebrations of life, other remembrances that people want.”

Through all the funerals, Wise’s commitment of helping, reaching out to people has remained strong.

“It has been way more gratifying than I thought it would be,” he said. “Our real goal here is to help the living people.

“This can be so devastating, and we are helping them through, to help obtain new normals in the their lives.”

There are “heavy moments,” he said.

“We are truly helping people,” said Mary Wise.

And the community’s response?

“I am super thankful for the support shown to me and my family,” said Mike Wise. “Without out their trust and allowing us to serve, we would be in business. It is about serving people.”