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Broderick says goodbye while Zierke says hello at PFH

By Staff | Jul 21, 2019

Rena Zierke, at left, is the new funeral director at Patton Funeral Home and Cremation Service. She will be filling Tracy Jutting’s shoes, while Tracy will be filling Rob Broderick’s shoes as he moves to South Dakota to be closer to his family. The three local funeral directors are picture above.

Rena Zierke has just become the new face at Patton Funeral Home. A 2014 Blue Earth Area graduate, Rena is eager to be so close to home, around familiar faces, and tending to the needs of families she knows and cares for.

The new funeral director just recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science in 2018. From there, she built up her skills in the Owatonna area.

Her interest in mortuary science was somewhat of a fluke, she says. Her father, Tracy, works part-time at Patton Funeral Home, and when Rena was younger, she was strongly encouraged to job shadow her dad.

“I was forced to job shadow him,” she laughs. “But afterwards, I really got to see what it takes to be a funeral director, and I enjoyed it. I like being able to help people, and this is a time when people need help.”

From that forced encounter, a passion grew. From that passion, a student grew, and from that student, a softly-spoken, wide-eyed and eager funeral director has blossomed.

Rena says she enjoys spending time with her family, including her dad, and mom (Gina), as well as her mini-husky, Kovu. She enjoys going to the lake and spending as much time outside as she possibly can.

But her career at Patton Funeral Home did not just start this past month. She also lent her services to the Funeral Home when Bob Kennedy was sick.

“At the time, Bob and Donna Anderson were both sick, so I helped take over Donna’s position and answered phones, and helped with questions and things like that,” says Rena.

She says it’s nice to be home.

“We’re well-rounded here at Patton, and I like that. I really enjoy working here and being a funeral director,” she says. “It’s a humbling job and I truly have a passion for talking with people. At other funeral service centers, especially in bigger cities, a family can be handed over to a multitude of staff for one arrangement, and I just don’t think that’s the way it should be. Here at Patton, we get to help the same family from start to finish. It’s only a few faces they see and it’s less overwhelming for them.”

However, Rena’s employment is not the only new thing happening at Patton Funeral Home.

“In mid-August, my family and I will be moving to Rapid City, South Dakota,” says funeral director Rob Broderick. Rob joined the Patton Funeral Home family in 2011 and has helped with a multitude of transitions during his time as a funeral director.

Rob and his wife Jennifer are originally from Chadron, Nebraska and with this move, he and his family will be closer to their own family, including Jennifer’s parents.

“Rapid City is only about an hour or so away from Chadron and we have family in Rapid City as well,” says Rob.

Tracy Jutting, who recently joined the Patton team last year, will be filling Rob’s position.

“It’s a lot in such a small amount of time, but the team that we have at Patton is such a great group of people,” says Tracy. “We really do have a cohesive, cooperative team that do their best for the families we serve.”

Naturally, the presence that Rob and his family have had at the Patton Funeral Home will be missed by many of his co-workers and friends, but the prospect of returning home to family is just too strong to pass up for Rob, his wife, and their two daughters.

“It’s just like me coming home to Blue Earth,” says Rena. “There’s just a feeling you have about being home, and I’m sure Rob has that same feeling. He’s been a great mentor for me and I appreciate all he has done for the community here.”

“It definitely won’t be the same without him,” says Tracy. “He brings something extra to our days at Patton. He will be greatly missed, but I think I speak for everyone here when we say we truly wish him the best. He’s left a lasting imprint on all of us,?I think.”

“I will miss this staff and all of the communities I’ve worked with,” says Rob. “This is the best staff I’ve ever worked with, truly. Most of our staff has been at Patton Funeral Home for over 20 years, and we’ve become like a family. It definitely will be hard to leave that.”

But Rob has faith in his team of certified funeral directors consisting of Tracy, Rena, and Ann Erdmann.

“I think these women will do great with what Bob Kennedy and I have worked to achieve at Patton Funeral Home and Spencer-Owens Funeral Home in Winnebago,” he says. “Women are way more organized than men so they already have the advantage.”

A celebration for Rob and a meet and greet reception is scheduled for July 31, at 9 a.m. at Patton Funeral Home. All communities across Faribault County are invited to meet Rena and the other staff members and to wish Rob well on his new journey.

No matter who fills the shoes at Patton Funeral Home, this team of committed people are here to help their communities in their greatest times of need.