Much of the story of the Billman Family
can be learned from the history of the buildings at
3954 Wooddale. More personal
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
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.
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
This information comes from a variety of sources: newspapers, books, yearbooks, phone directories, interviews, etc. Given the varied sources, we cannot guarantee that all of this information is correct, and welcome any additions and corrections. Please contact us with your contributions and comments.