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Karvonen Funeral Home crematory addition is complete

A 14-ton cremation retort, or chamber, is used for cremations at Karvonen Funeral Home. Anna Erickson/Pioneer Journal1 / 4
A viewing room is available for families who want to see the cremation. Anna Erickson/Pioneer Journal2 / 4
A variety of urns and caskets are available at Karvonens. Anna Erickson/Pioneer Journal3 / 4
Suzi and Greg Karvonen stand near the crane that placed the 14-ton cremation retort on the Karvonen Funeral Home property in northeast Wadena last summer. Special to the Pioneer Journal4 / 4

Karvonen Funeral Home has completed its on-site crematory addition that allows visitors to view or even participate in the cremation process of their loved ones.

Greg and Suzi Karvonen opened the funeral home in 2016.

A 14-ton cremation retort, or chamber, was delivered last summer to the funeral home, located at 419 Second Street NE in Wadena. Once cremation retort was placed, construction began on the building to enclose the equipment.

Matthews Cremation built the chamber and will remotely monitor all cremations as they are taking place, said Greg.

"The rise in need of cremation in our area is the reason we decided to have our own on-site crematory at the Wadena location," he added.

About 30 percent of people in the area are choosing cremation and that number is rising, Greg said.

A lot of planning went into the addition and a special room was added to provide an opportunity for families to have a viewing with the deceased as a final opportunity to say goodbye. A room with a window and curtains allows families to view the crematorium and watch the casket enter the chamber.

"The rate of cremation has increased and the need has risen for these services," Suzi said. "By offering these services here, your loved one will never leave our care."

The Karvonens took an eight-hour course to become certified to operate the crematory, a requirement in Minnesota. While cremations are being done, Matthews Cremation monitors the process, checking on exhaust, temperature and fuel consumption. Settings can be adjusted remotely from the monitoring facility in Florida.

Cremations can take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours depending on variables.

"It will reach around 1,500 degrees," Greg said. "It will heat up for a time, then eventually go into a cool-down phase. The cycle is all based on the physical makeup of the person and the type of container."

The funeral home offers a variety of urns to hold the remains after cremation. Custom engraving and other personal touches can be added to urns.

Karvonens also offers amenities for a traditional funeral service with a variety of casket selections, burial vaults, chapel with seating up to 300 people and video tributes.

The facility also offers a children's play room and on-site kitchen with the option for catering and a gathering space with seating for 125 people.

Pre-planning of funerals is becoming more common and Karvonens offers services to make those arrangements as well.

"Whatever service you select from us your loved one will never leave our care," Suzi said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561