Much of the story of the Billman Family can be learned from the history of the buildings at 3954 Wooddale. More personal information follows:


Joe Billman was born in Minneapolis on February 6, 1890. He attended the Pillsbury Academy and the University of Chicago, and became an ordained Baptist minister, working in Waterville and Richfield. In the 1920s he ran a furniture store in NE Minneapolis, and in 1932 he was associated with his first funeral home, also in NE Minneapolis. In 1936, he opened a mortuary at 2121 Nicollet Avenue in South Minneapolis.


In 1940 Joe Billman’s Lilac Way Funeral Home opened at the intersection of Excelsior Blvd., Wooddale, and Highway 100. Joe died on December 2, 1972.


In 1940, Dan Billman, Jr. operated a Billman Funeral Chapel at 2518 Central Ave.


Joe and wife Vera’s son John Billman served in the Navy during World War II while assistant Harry Sisstad ran the business. John studied mortuary science at the U of M and was an outstanding Gopher football player. John took over the business in about 1953. John was a member of numerous civic organizations and his picture graced the front of the St. Louis Park Directory for from the 1950s through the ’80s. 


The business was sold to Gearty-Delmore in 1982.  John passed away on March 16, 2012.  Read tributes to him here and here.