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Our Staff

Joseph Paul Schams

Founder, Board Certified Funeral Director in Wisconsin and Minnesota

Originally from La Crosse, WI, I sought my Mortuary Science Degree from the University of Minnesota after graduating from La Crosse Central High School.

During my college studies I worked for a funeral home in South St. Paul, MN. I was fortunate that they extended me an offer as a full-time Funeral Director after graduation. While I enjoyed working in St. Paul, I was missing the personal connection with the families that I was serving.

I found that connection when I moved back to La Crosse. I felt that the area would benefit from a Funeral Home specializing in cremation so I began strategizing the business plan for Coulee Region Cremation Group.

I married my high school sweetheart and we are blessed to have two children.

We are proud to call the Coulee Region our home.

Katie Vulgaris

Board Certified Funeral Director in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana
I am originally from Illinois and after visiting La Crosse for five years I finally made this place my home. I fell involve with the scenery and variety of outdoor activities that are able to be done year round here. A friend of mine helped me move into my first house I was renting and he is now my fiancé! We reside in our home in Onalaska with our dog, Kash, and are members of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in West Salem.
I am an active Rotarian and love being involved in different community events. I enjoy kayaking, riding bikes, and walking the many trails in this area and beyond.
I am a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling Illinois and have been working in funeral service since 2011. I became interested in this field when I lost a close classmate of mine in 2004. I witnessed the care the funeral director showed his family and classmates and I wanted to be that source of comfort for grieving families ever since. I enjoy meeting with families and helping them in not only arranging services, but helping them along their grief journey.

Nicole Renee Lutz

Board Certified Funeral Director in Wisconsin and Minnesota

I grew up on a family owned dairy farm in the small town of Turtle Lake, WI, with my parents, 4 sisters and brother.

I graduated in 2014 from Turtle Lake High School. After shadowing a funeral director while in high school, I fell in love with the career and the promise to be of assistance to families during their time of need.

I then decided to pursue this passion and attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mortuary Science in the Fall of 2017. I began my internship with Coulee Region Cremation Group, working towards becoming a licensed funeral director in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my expansive family and friends and exploring all of La Crosse and what the area has to offer.

Kris M. Ballard

Building Supervisor

I serve Coulee Region Cremation Group as a 20 year veteran in custodial work.

I am a native of Caledonia, MN.

Following high school, I pursued the military with focus in marching band. I have participated in several musical groups, along with brass ensembles.

My work history includes quarry processor and gravure pressman.

I am an avid outdoorsman and take pleasure in camping, hiking, biking, and nature/wildlife photography. I enjoy spending time with my wife, Robin of 28 years.

Currently, I am employed with First Free Church for five years along with CRCG for the past three years

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