History & Staff
At Nitardy Funeral Homes, we have provided customizable memorial services for many years. Personalized service options allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life in Cambridge and the surrounding areas, we invite you to learn more about where we came from and the dedicated people behind our work.
A History of Caring
Hilmar Begins His Business in Johnson Creek
Hilmar A. Nitardy was born July 2, 1907, to a Lutheran minister and his wife. He grew up in rural Wisconsin, spending a good deal of time driving the horses and buggy (or cutter in winter) between the two churches his father served for Sunday services and funerals. It was this exposure that kindled an interest in the funeral profession.
He apprenticed at a funeral home in Madison, Wisconsin for two years. After receiving his funeral director’s license in 1932 Hilmar set up a furniture and undertaking business in Johnson Creek. Furniture was in the front part of the store and the rear two rooms were partitioned off; one for embalming (although many times it was done at the home) and the other for displaying caskets.
The store front was two doors from the telephone office. Without the convenience of cell phones and pagers, Hilmar always left word with the operators where he could be reached. One operator was a girl named Dorothy Wrasse. They were married December 25, 1932.
The Move to Fort Atkinson
In midsummer 1935, the depression loomed. Furniture sales were slow and funerals were few. A drastic change was necessary. In Fort Atkinson, only ten miles away with a population of 6,000, there was one funeral service doing the vast majority of funerals. This director was using the Odd Fellows building. He was behind in rent and wanted to sell. Hilmar and his father met with him at the bank and offered his asking price of $3,000.00 for caskets and equipment. He changed his mind and refused to sell. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Hilmar found himself in a position to rent the building and was able to set up his funeral business with no financial outlay. This was just one room with a basement. Nitardy Funeral Home's first facility in Fort Atkinson was unique. One side was a tavern, the other a hardware store. During visitations one could hear the cash register ring.
In 1936, Hilmar bought a large house with an upper and lower flat. Here a chapel and canopy were built for funerals, and an ambulance service was started.
Expansion to Cambridge
In 1947, Hilmar purchased the funeral business of the Prescott family in Cambridge, Wisconsin. This parlor was a room in the furniture store where he had chairs and davenports, but it could be used for visitations. A short time later, a house was bought and remodeled, and a casket show room was added.
Hilmar's Son Russ Assumes Control
In 1965, the Fort Atkinson funeral home was sold. Hilmar continued to operate the Cambridge funeral home until 1979. At this time he mentioned to his son, Russ, he was planning to retire. At the time, Russ was supervising the lab at the Watertown Hospital. He still had his funeral directing license from when he had begun working in the funeral industry. He decided to take over the business and he and his family moved into the apartment above the funeral home. They were introduced to night calls, visitations and the importance of answering the phone.
Russ Expands the Operation
Russ had a desire to again have a funeral home in Fort Atkinson, so in 1984 a new funeral home was constructed on 1008 Madison Avenue. The design featured available parking and a one-story, fully handicap-accessible facility.
In 1991 Russ updated the Cambridge facilities by adding a chapel, an additional restroom, handicap-access ramp, front porch entrance, new landscaping, and complete remodeling of interior.
Russ's Son David Enters the Business
Russ’s son David came into the family business in October of 1995 after four plus years working at the Gunderson Funeral Home in Madison. David received a business degree from UW-Madison in 1992 and then completed his associate degree in mortuary science in 1995.
Russ has been retired since 2003, yet the business and staff continue to grow. In 2007, David purchased land and built a new facility in Whitewater. Today Nitardy Funeral Homes offers caring and dedicated service to families in the Cambridge, Fort Atkinson and Whitewater areas.
Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care
A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well-lived. At Nitardy, our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.
Location Leader / Funeral Director
Marti comes from a large family in Burlington where he is number 12 out of a family of 13 children. He is a second generation funeral director. Marti attended Milwaukee area Technical College and became a licensed funeral director in 1990. He joined the Nitardy team in 2017.
Marti is a resident of Cambridge and enjoys downhill skiing, snowmobiling, riding his motorcycles, but most of all spending time with his family. Marti has three grown children Nicole, Carmen and her husband Mike and their son Joseph, and his son Kieran.
Marti is a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church
David R. Nitardy, is a 1988 graduate of Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor of science degree in business administration from UW-Madison in 1992. Later he completed studies for an associate degree of mortuary science at Milwaukee Area Technical College and became a licensed funeral director in the state of Wisconsin in 1995. David worked for five years at Gunderson Funeral Home in Madison, Wisconsin while attending school. He joined his father in October of 1995, becoming a part of the family’s funeral homes in Fort Atkinson and Cambridge. Upon his father’s retirement in 2003, David assumed the role of President of Nitardy Funeral Homes. David has expanded the funeral homes service area into Whitewater, Wisconsin with the opening of a newly constructed funeral home in 2007.
David and his wife Liz live in rural Fort Atkinson with their four sons: Russell, Norman, Paul, and Daniel. Their family is active at St. James Ev. Lutheran Church in Cambridge. David is past president of Cambridge Optimist Club and a member of Fort Atkinson Rotary Club.
Gary D. Wilke
Gary D. Wilke graduated from Janesville Craig High School in 1984 and UW-Milwaukee in 1989. He joined Nitardy Funeral Homes in 2006. Since earning his associate’s degree in mortuary science from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2007, Gary has served our professional staff as a funeral director.
Gary and his wife Chris reside in the town of Hebron and have two children, Craig and Carly. He is a member of Bethany Lutheran Church.
Autumn Harden, a native of Fort Atkinson, graduated Fort Atkinson High School in 2012. She attended Mortuary Science College in upstate New York and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Funeral Services Administration. She joined the Nitardy funeral home team in 2018 and feels honored to be back in her hometown serving the local community members. When she is not working and the weather is right, she enjoys utilizing the Fort bike trail and attending local farmer’s markets.
Natalie Brahm graduated from Westosha Central High School in 2014. She received an associates degree in business administration from Gateway Technical College in 2018 and an associates in mortuary science from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2020. She joined the Nitardy Team in 2022. Natalie and her husband, Marshall, reside in Elkhorn and enjoy riding horses, rehabbing houses and being outside whenever possible. She is an active member at Great Lakes Church in Kenosha.
Sue Marshall, a native of Fort Atkinson, graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 1975 and attended UW-Whitewater. She became part of the Nitardy Funeral Homes staff in April of 1993.
Sue and her husband, Kevin reside in Fort Atkinson and have three grown children, Adam, Kelsey and Amanda. Sue is an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Carl is a retired plant manager who is a support staff member with Nitardy Funeral Home since 2007. Carl is a prideful man who cares very much about the families we serve.
He and his wife Dee reside in Fort Atkinson and are members of Bethany Lutheran Church.
Advance Funeral Planner
Robert Knippel was born in the small northwestern town and graduated high school in Menomonie, WI. To feed his growing desire for serving people, he began his training for the public ministry. He received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Northwestern College, Watertown, WI, and a Master of Divinity from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Thiensville, WI. Robert served as pastor for ten years in Rice Lake, WI before serving ten years as pastor in Madison, WI.
One of the true joys in his parish ministry involved serving families at their time of loss, and eventually his career path led him to funeral service which he has enjoyed for eleven years. Robert serves as the Advance Funeral Planner for Nitardy Funeral Homes in Whitewater, Fort Atkinson and Cambridge. Robert and his wife Mary Beth have been married 31 years and have been blessed with two children and four grandchildren. He enjoys woodworking, fly fishing, and loves to travel.
Robert can be emailed at email@example.com or called at (414) 380-0862.