A place of comfort
Help when you need it most
Help with pre-arrangement
Honoring veterans
Grief support for children
Community involvement


David Donehower Staff 2012

At David-Donehower Funeral Home, we are honored to have earned the trust and confidence placed in us by those that we serve. We pledge to offer respectful and dignified professional service, service that a family should expect, service that a family deserves. From the time the first phone call is received, throughout the service and beyond, each staff member at our funeral home contributes in an important way.






 David Karsnia

David Karsnia

Licensed Funeral Director

David grew up and graduated from high school in Frazee, Minnesota. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mortuary Science from the University of Minnesota in 1971. While attending school in Minneapolis, David worked as a night attendant at O'Halloran and Murphy Funeral Home in St. Paul. Following his graduation, he moved to Detroit Lakes where he worked for the Donehower Funeral Home until 1975 when he moved to Sauk Centre to become manager of the Schad Funeral Home.

In 1981, David returned to Detroit Lakes where he and Ernest Gieseke purchased the Donehower firm. In 1984, David bought Mr. Gieseke's interest in the business and changed the name to David-Donehower Funeral Home. In 1997, David sold the funeral home to Thomas M. Vertin, long-time funeral director from Breckenridge, Minnesota, and David continued to manage the funeral home and serve families in need.

David is a member of the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association (MFDA), where he has served on the Board of Directors (including a term as President in 2004-2005), and on the Service Corporate Board. 

In addition to his funeral service interests, David is a member of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Masons, the 412 Lakes Antique Car Club, and the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary. 

He is a past board member for Ecumen (Provider of housing and services to seniors in Minnesota); a member of the Professional Car Society, a member of the Hospice of the Red River Valley Foundation Board, a past member of the Emmanuel Nursing Home Board, and Chairman of the Minnesota State Technical College Foundation Board.  

David and his wife, Maureen live in Detroit Lakes and are the parents of three children, Sheri, Jason and Tony.

 Shawn Nygaard

Shawn Nygaard

Licensed Funeral Director

Shawn grew up in Edmore, North Dakota. He attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, later transferring to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis to complete his degree in Mortuary Science. While attending school in Minneapolis, Shawn worked at Huber Funeral Homes in Excelsior, Eden Prairie and Mound, Evans-Nordby Funeral Home in Brooklyn Center and Osseo and Gearty-Delmore Funeral Homes in Plymouth and Robbinsdale. Following his graduation Shawn managed Stanley-Iverson Funeral Home in McVille, North Dakota from 2002 until joining David-Donehower Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes in 2006. 

Shawn currently serves on the Detroit Lakes City Planning Commission and is a board member at the Detroit Lakes DAC (Developmental Achievement Center). He and his wife Sarah are members at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. He is also a member of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees and Kiwanis Club. 

In his personal time, he enjoys spending time with his family, attending Laker sporting events along with hunting and fishing. Shawn and Sarah live in Detroit Lakes and have two children: Jax and Lakyn.



 Jennifer Jacobson

 Licensed Funeral Director

Jennifer grew up in Menahga, MN. She attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Mortuary Science. Following graduation, she returned to Menahga where she worked at Cardini-Pearson Funeral Home as well as Jones-Pearson Funeral Home in Park Rapids, MN. In 2010, Jennifer began her work at Furey Funeral Home in Frazee as well as David-Donehower Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes.
Following her move to Frazee, Jennifer was blessed to meet Frazee High School teacher, Jim Jacobson. The couple was married in the fall of 2013. They reside in Rochert, MN, on beautiful Cotton Lake. Jennifer is a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Frazee. Jennifer is also a member of the Frazee Lions Club and Frazee Community Club.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with family and friends, boating, walking and playing with the couple’s dog, Ivy, reading, cooking and baking. 



 Patrick Volesky

Licensed Funeral Director

Patrick grew up in Iowa City, Iowa and first moved to the Detroit Lakes area in 2006. He later attended the University of Minnesota where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mortuary Science. Upon graduating in 2012, he and his wife Emily (Pfeifer) Volesky and their two children, Lauren and Madeleine returned to the Frazee area where he worked as an intern with Schuller Family Funeral Homes in Wadena. 

In March of 2014, he began working part time at David- Donehower Funeral Home and Furey Funeral Home, and became a permanent member of our staff in January of 2015. In his spare time he enjoys time with his family, including practicing Tae Kwon Do with his children, along with hunting and fishing. Patrick and his family currently reside in Detroit Lakes.





 Merle Sagen

Funeral Home Assistant

Merle was born and raised in the Twin Valley, Minnesota area and attended Twin Valley Schools, graduating in 1961. Following graduation, he served with the United States Army in the 101st Airborne Division until being honorably discharged in 1964. Later that year, Merle became employed by what was then the Minnesota Highway Department in St. Paul, Minnesota. He transferred to Detroit Lakes in 1966 and was employed by MNDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) until his retirement in 2000.

Merle served twenty-two years on the Detroit Lakes Fire Department and served on the committee to establish the Dialysis Unit in Detroit Lakes. In 2001, he joined the staff at David-Donehower Funeral Home where he provides a wonderful service to families.

Merle and his wife Phyllis have four children and reside in rural Lake Park.



 Carmen McCullough

Pre Planning Specialist

As a pre planning specialist, Carmen believes that pre-arranging your funeral is a wise decision, both emotionally and financially. By planning a funeral in advance, families are able to make decisions free of emotional stress and pressure. It also ensures that wishes are well-documented and carried out. Carmen knows the details of this important process and is able to help you walk through the necessary steps. 

Carmen has been a member of the Detroit Lakes community for nearly 20 years. Prior to joining David Donehower Funeral Home, Carmen earned degrees in marketing and business. She has over twenty years of experience working in these areas. She is also a nationally-recognized artist whose work is sold both locally and online. This combination of business experience and artistic flair is what makes Carmen uniquely qualified to help families cover both the financial and creative aspects of pre-planning a funeral. Because she believes that funerals are most meaningful when they are personalized, Carmen is open to new ideas and requests for customizing a memorable and healing funeral that will best capture one’s unique life. 

Carmen and her husband Kevin are members at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Audubon. They live in Detroit Lakes with their children Austin and Ethan.

 Kim Schnitzer

Office Manager

Kim has lived in Detroit Lakes most of her life and is a graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, class of 1974. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Tim, for 35 years. Their children, Russell, Alaina and Cara, are grown with families of their own, and have blessed them with eight grandchildren.

Prior to working for David-Donehower Funeral Home, Kim held a position in the wholesale building industry, and most recently, served as a licensed representative and assisted in marketing with State Farm Insurance. Her background in customer service makes her a wonderful addition to our family of staff at David-Donehower.

Kim is active in her community, doing volunteer work at area nursing homes, the Lakes Area Food Pantry, and other non-profit groups. She is also a member of the First Baptist Church, and the Sons of Norway.

She has been a professional Gospel singer for over thirty years, and has a ministry called, "Sing and Tell the Story." Kim has five recorded works of music. She travels on weekends performing concerts, retreats, and programs for churches and civic groups.

 Valerie Knudsvig

Aftercare Coordinator

Valerie was born in Sacramento California to a military family. They lived in several states during her childhood with their home town being Mahnomen, MN. Valerie graduated from Mahnomen High School and attended college at Minnesota State University of Moorhead, earning a Bachelor of Social Work Degree. She also completed a Child Development Accreditation program. Her professional career experiences include: Residential Counselor for juvenile boys at McCrossan Boys Ranch in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Toddler Teacher at Children of the Lakes Child Care Center in Detroit Lakes; operated her own family child care business, Summer Haven Child Care; Becker and Clay County Area Coordinator for Provider’s Choice, Inc.; and Medical Social Worker at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Detroit Lakes. 

Valerie enjoys life with her husband, Loran, and three children, Lee & daughter-in-law, Tricia, Mitchell and Andrea. They make their home on Little Cormorant Lake. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, crafting, reading, playing games, and travel. 

Valerie is a member of Lakes Area Vineyard Church and the Lake Park Women’s Auxiliary VFW. She has served on the Becker County Vulnerable Adult Protection Team, KARE Council, Detroit Lakes Family Child Care Association, LPA ECFE board, and the Ethics Committee at Essentia Health St. Mary’s. Valerie continues to welcome opportunities to volunteer service at church, school, and community activities. 

Valerie has a heart for caring as she provides ongoing emotional support to grieving individuals and families. Life after the death of a loved one can be challenging and painful. She is able to assist in the coordination of necessary paperwork, phone calls, and is familiar with other community resources. Her work with the STAR program (A Special Time to Always Remember) continues to make a positive difference in helping children better understand death, grieving, and the funeral process. The STAR class is available to families, civic groups and our community as requested. “The Caring Cup” is a new coffee group that meets the second and last Wednesdays of every month at the funeral home from 9:00am – 10:00am. This is a time for those who have experienced loss to connect with others for fellowship, support and encouragement in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Valerie looks forward to sharing a cup of coffee with you soon!  


Home • Contact Us • Mobile • 609 US Hwy 10 East • Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 • Phone. 218-847-4147  •  Fax: 218-847-2992 • Email: info@daviddonehower.com
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