Donn Carlson

Obituary of Donn Bernard Carlson


Carlson, Donn B., age 86, of Minneapolis, passed away October 12, 2023.

Preceded in death by parents and 2 sisters.

Donn was a longtime pastor with Vineyard Churches in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Carole; daughters, Vicki (Gerald) Degner, Jody (Dan) Young, Lisa (Dan) Frandrup, Sheri (Steve) Slack, and Kristin Adams; Son Steven (Susan) Carlson; siblings Nancy (Pete) Pudas, Sandra Berry; 14 grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren.

A celebration of life reception will be on Saturday, November 11, 2023, from 1-3pm at Flagstone Senior Living, 8350 Commonwealth Drive, Eden Prairie, MN (952-829-6400)


Donn Carlson Eulogy

Donn grew up in south Minneapolis with his parents Ben and Val and his sisters, Jackie, Sandy, Judy, and Nancy. He enjoyed telling us stories of when he was a teenager and all the shenanigans he got involved in. As kids we got the impression that Dad enjoyed living on the wild side. Donn and Carole met in high school and were married on January 11, 1954. They would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2 months. That is quite an accomplishment! Mom and Dad started having kids right way and by the time Mom was 25 she had 5 kids, Vicki, Jody, Lisa, Steven, and Sheri. Kristin came along about 10 years later, much to all our enjoyment! As the oldest child, I have memories of Dad always being a hard worker. I remember him working 2-3 jobs at a time when I was young.

Dad loved to wrestle with us, play the role of jungle gym, and was forever a jokester.

Dad loved to embarrass us when we were out in public by calling us by silly names loudly. “Penelope, Thaddeus” were favorites.

I don’t know how he did it, but dad bought the family a summer cabin on Ruth Lake in Emily, MN when we were young. We loved it up there! We all water-skied daily, built houses in the woods, slept in creepy bunk beds and pull-out murphy beds.

As long as I can remember Dad was a man of faith. It was important to him that we all go to Sunday school as kids. I remember growing up through elementary school at Hope Presbyterian in Richfield. Sundays were fun because dad was home from work and after church we would often go to Grandma and Grandpa Carlson’s house for Sunday lunch. It was hilarious witnessing dad and his mother banter back and forth.

When I was in 7th grade dad had a very personal and real experience with God that changed the course of his life. I remember Dad taking us all to a new church at that time that met in a big house in St Louis Park, called Daystar. I have memories of dad’s office downstairs in the basement filling up with books about the Bible. He has always had a voracious appetite for reading. Mom and Dad later joined the staff of Daystar, which meant moving for all of my siblings.

Dad was a successful salesman for many years. In the late 1970’s Dad received a call to an Assemblies of God church in Owatonna. Mom and Dad packed up and moved again. Dad pastored that church for about 10 years.

Dad received another call some years later to pastor a Vineyard Church in Marshalltown Iowa. Dad particularly enjoyed this call as he got to be tutored by the famous John Wember as a pastor.

Dad pastored this church until he retired from the ministry around 2002, and then mom and dad moved back up to the cities to be closer to kids and grandkids. He and mom were the property managers at a condo complex in Bloomington until it became too difficult to keep up with the work. They moved to a senior condo building in Cottage Grove that Lisa found them. They loved it there! And it was challenging for dad to no longer be working. When mom became ill and had to live in a supported environment due to mobility issues, dad began to struggle living on his own. His sister Jackie lived at Flagstone in Eden Prairie. Lisa and I had visited several places for dad to consider but we couldn’t get his buy in for any of them. So thank the Lord for his sisters Jackie and Nancy! The first time we visited

Flagstone dad agreed to move there because of his beloved sisters! We are forever grateful to them!

I remember dad telling me so many times over the last years how grateful he was for the life he and mom had lived together. He seemed so blessed by the places they traveled together, the people he met, and his children. It is reassuring today to know that he lived it large and felt grateful to God for all of his experiences.

When we think of our dad now we would describe him as the life of the party, always ready for a party, a jokester, friendly, and happy. Dad loved a caramel frappe from McDonalds! He even made up a song about them, much to moms’ chagrin! In his later years dad was always dancing and singing. He spread a ton of cheer around Flagstone and Bloomington Presbyterian Homes with his songs and dance moves.


Our Favorite Dadisms….

I’m glad you got to see me! I hope you get to see me again real soon! If it wasn’t this way it would be different. Don’t take any wooden nickels! You look a million damn dollars! We would say, “dad you look great!” He would reply, Oh really? Whereabouts?”

A favorite lately between him and mom was, “Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb? Mom would reply, “Not if it comes down in cans!”

Answering the phone- “Murphy’s pool hall!”


Some of Dads favorite Bible verses:

Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. 1 Corinthians 14:1 Message Translation

Watch what God does, and then go do it. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 Message Translation


Celebration of Life

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Flagstone Senior Living
8350 Commonwealth Drive
Eden Prairie, Minnesota, United States
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