Kevin Opsahl, CFSP, Funeral Director/Owner
Kevin graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1983 with his B.S. in Mortuary Science. He became a licensed funeral director/embalmer in the state of South Dakota in 1984 and was licensed in Minnesota in 1985. He earned his South Dakota life insurance agent’s license in 1996.
After obtaining his funeral director’s license, Kevin worked at the Ray Funeral Chapel in Yankton until moving to Minneapolis. There he worked at the Hillside Funeral Home and Cemetery for two years until moving back to Yankton in 1991. He joined the Kostel Funeral Home, with funeral homes in Yankton, Menno and Tabor, where he worked until purchasing the business from Laddie and Pam Kostel in 1998.
Kevin has three children: Ann (wife Marti), Laura (husband Nick and their 2 children: Nixon and Maddox), Alex (wife Jazmine). Kevin and Courtney were married in 2019 and she brought to their marriage 3 wonderful children: Taylor, Jayden and Liam. Kevin and his wife, Courtney reside in Yankton, South Dakota. Kevin is involved with the Yankton Morning Optimists, Yankton Elks Lodge #994, Hillcrest Country Club, Yankton Booster Club, Yankton Band Boosters, Yankton Area Arts Association, Yankton Quarterback Club and Yankton Chamber of Commerce, the Yankton Boys and Girls Club serving on the Advisory Committee and, currently, the Governing Board. He was involved with area youth as a Yankton Youth Soccer coach and has served on various boards for the United Church of Christ (Congregational). In 2004, he became a 32° Mason of the Scottish rite, St. John’s Lodge #1 A.F. and A.M. Kevin also served on the Board of Directors of the International Order of the Golden Rule (2005-2012) and served as the organization’s president 2010-2011. Kevin obtain his Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) on May 15, 2011.
“Funeral service for me has turned out to be more than a career. It has been a way for me to touch family’s lives that my schooling never taught me and it is hard for me to put into words, the bond I have developed with families over the years.” You can email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Mugge, Funeral Director
Ron graduated from Iowa Lakes Community College in 1979 with an Associate of Applied Science degree. After two years of employment, he returned to college for one year, and then the following year he attended professional school, graduating from Dallas Institute of Funeral Service in 1983. He became a licensed funeral director and embalmer in the State of Iowa in 1984, and was licensed in South Dakota in 1994, North Dakota in 2000, and in Minnesota in 2017.
After obtaining his Iowa funeral director’s license, Ron worked for Baumgarten Funeral Homes in Spencer, Iowa. He went on to serve families in New Mexico, Texas, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Arizona.
Ron is involved with the United Church of Christ, the Masonic Lodge, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, and the Shrine. He has also served communities as a Rotarian and a Lion over the years. The Iowa State Fair, and the Clay County (Iowa) Fair are also a part of Ron’s interests, as well as the Turner Hall Society in New Ulm, Minnesota.
“I was made aware of the rewards that this profession offers very early in my career, and it has proven to be exactly that. These rewards are what you feel when you have assisted families in their time of need, and have helped to make their burden a little easier to bear.” You can email Ron at email@example.com.
Somer Bares, Secretary/Graphic Artist
Somer graduated from Hoover High in San Diego, CA. She moved to Orange County, CA in 1976 to work at Pinkerton’s, Inc. where she was employed for ten years. In 1986, Somer accepted a job at a commercial real estate firm and was employed there for 20 years as an administrative assistant, working in the accounts payable and receivable departments. During her last eight years there, she worked in the graphics department. In 2008 Somer and her husband relocated to Yankton, SD where her husband grew up. Somer joined the staff at the Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory in January 2011. "The greatest joy of my job is working closely with the families, creating a very special service folder." You can email Somer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynn Balthis, Office Assistant
Lynn spent her childhood years growing up in Tabor, moving out to the family farm while she was in 6th grade. She finished school in Yankton graduating from YHS in 1982. She continued her education at Dakota State University in Madison receiving her Associate of Arts degree in Small Business Management in 1984. She became a licensed Title Abstracter in 1985. She spent 28 years working in the title insurance industry. She was the Manager & Co-owner of Bon Homme Title Company in Tyndall for a large majority of those years. She married Tye Balthis in 2013. She has four adult children Drew, Courtney, Austin and Katelyn Koch. Lynn and Tye live out by Lewis & Clark Lake and enjoy camping, riding their motorcycle and spending precious time with family and friends. “The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I assisted in some way the family grieving the loss of their loved one. The appreciation they have for the compassion and support from our team is priceless. It truly is a privilege and honor to work for Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory Inc.” You can email Lynn at email@example.com
Ted Powell, Family Service Counselor/Support Staff
Ted graduated from Yankton College in 1978 with a B.M. in Music, with additional studies at USD. Ted retired after 32 years of teaching in Woonsocket, Wessington Springs, Alcester-Hudson and the last 20 years in Yankton public schools. Ted is director of music and organist at the United Church of Christ-UCC. He and his wife Jennifer were honored a few years ago by being selected as the Riverboat Days Captain and Belle. They are the parents of four children and enjoy spoiling their grandchildren. “Honoring the life of an individual is something I enjoy helping families with at their time of need. It might be simply being there to assist a visitation or funeral or memorial service. I also can assist families or individuals in pre-planning of services. It might be as simple as giving pertinent information and stating wishes or selecting all details of the service and making a financial investment which can alleviate some of the stress involved when families are working on celebrating/grieving the loss of a family member.” You can email Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Hansen, Video Production/Support Staff
Bob earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from Augustana College and his Master’s degree in Physics from the University of South Dakota. After several years of teaching in high school in Nebraska, he accepted a positon of Instructor of Physics and Mathematics at Mount Marty College. During the last seventeen years of his thirty-five year career at Mount Marty, he served as the Director of Administrative Computing, training and assisting the college staff in the administrative software. Shortly after his retirement from the college, Bob joined the Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home staff, producing the video tributes offered to the families being served by the funeral home and assisting with visitations and services. Bob can be contacted at email@example.com.
Roger & Jeanie Simonsen, Support Staff
Roger graduated from Menno High School and Universal Trade Schools in Omaha NE. He has held positions at Bak Auto Body, Smidt Appliance and purchased Simonsen Plumbing & Heating from his parents in 1982. He started with Aisenbrey Funeral Home and then Kostel Funeral Home and lastly, Aisenbrey-Opsahl Kostel Memorial Chapel in Menno, SD for approximately 40 years. “I enjoy working with the public and assisting families in their grief.”
Jeanie graduated from LaQuinta High School in Westminister, CA. She has held positions at Montgomery Ward, Landmann Jungman Memorial Hospital Business Office and Hutchinson County Community Health, Deputy and County Auditor. “I enjoy my position at Aisenbrey-Opsahl-Kostel Memorial Chapel for the opportunity to assist families with their loss.
Velma Kuchta, Support Staff
Velma graduated from Scotland High School and attended college at SSTC. She continued her education at USD in Vermillion, receiving a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. After teaching twelve years in rural schools, her final thirty plus years were teaching at Stewart Elementary in the Yankton Public Schools. Her husband, Gary and she have four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandson. After retiring from teaching, she joined the staff at Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home. “My employment here has given me a whole new outlook on life. This has opened a whole new career for me to explore and come to the realization that there’s always many new things to learn, no matter what age you are. The best part of this career is the opportunity to work with people who are in need of sympathy and compassion. I find myself looking for ways to bring some sunshine and levity into lives that have been greatly upset by death.”
Dorothy Wurtz, Support Staff
Dorothy was raised on a farm between Lesterville and Tabor. She went to Cedar Grove Country School and graduated from Mount Marty High School. After graduation, she went to Denver, CO and worked at a hospital and insurance company. She moved back to South Dakota in 1960 and worked at American State Bank. She married Larry Wurtz and to this union, four sons were born. She then worked at Alco as a bookkeeper and at Alumax Extrusions in the receiving department. She also processed truck driver’s payroll and worked as a part time dispatcher. She was a member of the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) and Special Olympics. Dorothy was instrumental in the start of of the Yankton track meet and bowling tournament in Yankton. She also helped organize the ARC State Convention in Yankton. She is a Eucharistic Minister at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital every Tuesday and at Majestic Bluffs twice a month. Dorothy started her employment with Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home in August, 2015. “I enjoy helping families who have lost a loved one”.
Rhonda Bender, Support Staff
Rhonda is a Yankton native graduating from Yankton High School in 1984. She became a pharmacy technician with White Drug after attending Technician Training in Hastings, MN. Rhonda went to work for Kmart Pharmacy in 1994 and became nationally certified. In June 2016, she began working at Hy-Vee Pharmacy. She has been active in the community, including volunteering with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, teaching religious education and Habitat for Humanity. Her and her husband, Brad have 3 adult children: Alicia (Mike) Thunker, Colton and Brooklyn Bender and have 2 grandsons. “I enjoy the opportunity to help serve families through the loss of their loved one.”
Brenda Edler, Support Staff
Brenda grew up in Lesterville and is the middle child of 7. After graduation she moved to New York and was a nanny, then moved to Kansas City and lived there for 13 years, returning back to South Dakota in 2000 to present. She has 2 wonderful children, Tyler and Preslee and their dog, Tucker. Brenda enjoys scrapbooking, trying to learn the master of sewing and spending her summers at the L&C Marina “C Dock” on their boat. She also enjoys watching Tyler play baseball; her teams are the Lesterville Broncs, KC Royals, KC Chiefs, IA Hawkeyes and KC Jayhawks. “I enjoy working at Opsahl-Kostel because of the warm and friendly atmosphere along with our compassionate staff. It’s an honor to be part of this team.”
Judi Lane Olson, Support Staff
Judi attended Yankton schools until after her freshman year, but graduated from Vermillion High School. As a beginning career step, she then attended the South Dakota Hairstyling Academy in Sioux Falls, SD. Continuing her education, Judi took classes at several colleges to continue her education, returning to Yankton in 1991. She was fulfilled by being back home and close to parents, friends, classmates and relatives. After exploring all of her other options, Judi joined the Yankton College staff as Admin Assistant and spent 17 years in that position. She enjoyed the fellowship with alumni and doing historical research. The day never seemed long.
Judi has 2 daughters and 2 grandsons in Iowa; her husband Sonny, has 3 children and 7 grandchildren living in California and South Dakota.
A member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, General Federation of Women’s Club and a life member of VFW Auxiliary, “I am looking forward to assisting families and friends through the darkness of death and into the sunshine of life.”
Diana Smallwood, After-Care Counselor
Diana is a native of Yankton and has experience in the fields of customer service and bookkeeping, but her passion has always been to care for others. She possesses an Associate’s Degree from the University of South Dakota in General Studies and will receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from USD in May 2019. Diana spent several years as a group facilitator for a grief support group in her faith community. She has completed courses in both bereavement care and Stephen’s Ministry and has spent time volunteering with hospice. “Accompanying others through their journey with grief is a privilege. I feel honored to be working with the team at Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home and Crematory in providing care to those mourning the loss of a loved one.”
Arnold was raised on farms in Clearwater, NE area. He graduated in 1962 from Clearwater High School. After high school, Arnold worked for Jellte Dairy in Norfolk, NE as a Retail Milkman. He then worked at Earl May Garden Center as Assistant Manager and then moved to North Platt, NE to open a new store as Manager. In 1975 he went to work for a telephone business in Sioux Falls, SD. Arnold moved to Yankton, SD in 1979 and continued in the phone business and installation until 2005 and retired from CBP Communications in 2005 and then went to worked for Dakota Premium Hay And Ace Hardware in 2018.
Arnold has a son, Troy; daughter, Amy and two adult grandsons, Zachary and Micah.
Arnold enjoys working with the staff and families that have lost a loved one.
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