Weather Forecast


O'Connell family's commitment to service attracted new funeral director

O'Connell Family Funeral Home has added a fourth funeral director to its staff.

Glen Novack, 33, joined the local funeral home in November after working as a funeral director in his hometown of Superior for seven years. He is assisting with services at both O'Connell funeral homes, located in Hudson and Baldwin.

Novack said he and his wife, Jodi, had been thinking about moving to the greater Twin Cities area for close to a year when he heard that Thomas O'Connell, founder of the O'Connell Family Funeral Home, was looking for help.

Novack wouldn't take just any job. He told Jodi that his new employer would have to have just as much compassion for families as his employer at the time, Downs Funeral Home of Superior.

"After talking with (Tom), I knew this would be the place that I'd be going," he said. "I want to be working for somebody (that views) families (as) more than just a number, where they go the extra mile. I could see right away that they did that here, just like the other places that I had worked for previously."

A part-time job as a driver for a funeral home in his hometown introduced Novack to the business. After graduating from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he went on to earn a degree from Worsham College of Mortuary Science at Wheeling, Ill., in 1994.

Novack returned to Superior for his job as a funeral director at Thompson-Hegstrom Funeral Home. He went to work for Downs Funeral Home in 1999.

Part of the reason the Novacks wanted to move to this area is that they have friends in the Twin Cities. They also have a 2 1/2-year-old son, Dmitri.

Novack is the second funeral director the O'Connells have invited to join the family business since the murder last February of Daniel O'Connell.

Dan, the second son of Tom and Janet O'Connell, was overseeing the operation of the family's Hudson funeral home when he and intern James Ellison were shot to death inside it. Police are still looking for the killer.

Robin Martens was brought on board last spring to assist Tom and his son Michael O'Connell, who was running the family's Baldwin home. Martens previously worked at an Eau Claire funeral home.

"It's been nice to come in and give a little relief to Tom and Mike and Robin, who have been working so hard," Novack said.

The Novacks currently are renting an apartment near Perch Lake. They plan to buy or build a house in the Hudson area.

Novack, like Martens, is helping arrange funerals at both of the O'Connell funeral homes.

An addition to the O'Connell's Hudson funeral home, 520 S. 11th St., was recently completed.

A reward of up to $100,000 has been established for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison. Anonymous tips may be reported to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-442-7463.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

(715) 426-1066