The Redwood Valley Funeral Home in Redwood Falls was originally founded in 2000 when its previous owner decided to expand into the Redwood area; since then, current owner / director Nathan Stephens has only expanded it further....
The Redwood Valley Funeral Home in Redwood Falls was originally founded in 2000 when its previous owner decided to expand into the Redwood area.
Since then, current owner / director Nathan Stephens has only expanded it further.
Stephens, a graduate of Redwood Falls High School, originally intended to go into the medical field.
However, he changed his major after several deaths in the family demonstrated to him how much of a difference a caring, competent funeral director can make for families during what can be a very stressful time.
After doing an internship and earning his degree at the University of Minnesota, Stephens worked at several different funeral homes across the state.
When he heard the owner was looking for a local manager, Stephens jumped at the chance to return to Redwood Falls along with his wife, Valerie.
In 2006, Stephens bought the Redwood Valley Funeral Home, which has since expanded to five other locations: Westbrook, Walnut Grove, Tracy, Tyler, and Echo, which also has a crematory.
Redwood Valley Funeral Home’s three full-time funeral directors spent much of their time on the road between the six facilities.
To make the process easier and less stressful, Redwood Valley Funeral Home also does pre-arrangements and pre-financing if desired.
The amount of planning any given funeral requires depends on the amount of pre-planning done, and on the family’s wishes.
“Everyone needs guidance, and we have a detailed checklist,” said Stephens. “Some families want us to do everything that pertains to the funeral, so that when they walk out (from the planning session) the only thing they need to do is bring in photos for displays.
“Other families want to be more involved, and want to select the flowers and other items themselves.”
“Early this year we remodeled in Redwood Falls,” Stephens said. “We too out our casket selection room, and replaced it with casket display panels,” said Stephens.
“That opened up room for a large lounge area and kitchenette we can use for lunches or as additional space for visitations.”
As with everything else in life, funeral directors have to keep an eye open for the latest trends in their fields.
New in funerals these days: “green” funerals.
For people wanting their end to create the least impact on the environment as possible, options include no embalming (with burial in specific cemeteries throughout the state), and caskets made of renewable sources such as bamboo.
The Echo crematorium has seen significantly increased use since Stephens began.
“Last year in Minnesota, over 50 percent of deaths ended in cremation,” said Stephens. “Every year the percentage goes up by one to three percent.
“Owning our own crematory gives us more options. We can host a visitation one day, do the cremation overnight, and have the remains ready for the funeral ceremony the next day.”
The funeral process doesn’t end with the funeral itself, but also includes follow-up services such as consulting with the family and helping in the selection of headstones and markers.