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Snustad building demolished in Blackduck, history intact

A building on Main Street that was home to Blackduck’s first funeral home was recently demolished. Photo by Jillian Gandsey.

Downtown Blackduck now features an empty lot at 73 Main St. NW.

The establishment that stood there was previously known as the Snustad Funeral Home, owned and operated by Arthur Snustad who passed away in August.

But the building has a longer history in the funeral directory business, as it hosted Blackduck’s first licensed mortician, F.L. Kolden. Kolden was born in 1887 and came to Blackduck in 1904.

After being in business with his brother, Henry J. Kolden, he had the building on Main Street built in the early 1900s, establishing the Kolden Funeral Home.

Marilyn Page, daughter of Henry Langord Jr., recalls her father, who was Kolden’s first cousin, working at the funeral home.

“My dad used to do a lot of the embalming for (Kolden) because you didn’t have to go to school for that,” Page said.

Page said that her mother, Jennie Langord, worked for Kolden at the furniture store in town, which he also owned. Kolden also operated a resort on Blackduck Lake called Kolden’s Resort and Tepee-Tonka-Lodge, according his obituary.

“He was known for his humor and kindliness,” said his obituary, which also remembered Kolden as an early pioneer merchant in Blackduck. Kolden passed away on Nov. 8, 1961.

Also according to Kolden’s obituary, due to “failing health” he was forced to retire and sold the business to Arthur Snustad in 1956.

Born in Rindahl, Minn. in 1921, Snustad attended school in Winger, Minn. and graduated from McIntosh High School in 1939. He then entered the United State Army in 1944 and was granted honorable discharge in 1946. Following that, Snustad attended the University of Minnesota’s program of mortuary science, graduating with honors in 1952.

After working in Brainerd for three years, he moved to Blackduck and purchased what became the Snustad Funeral Home.

Glennis Moon, volunteer for the Blackduck Area History and Art Center, recalls a story from when Snustad operated the funeral home. Her father worked at the electricity plant in Blackduck, which was next to the funeral home, and an employee had fallen asleep.

“The fellow that fell asleep so hard was put into a casket as a joke,” Moon said with a laugh.

After Snustad passed away in August, the Win-E-Mac School District received a $2 million estate from the former mortician. He also gave $50,000 to Zion Lutheran Church and another $50,000 to First Presbyterian Church in Blackduck.

“He was a good guy around town and he was a funny man,” Moon said.

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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