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New Funeral Home Facility

Though the process has been years in the making, it's been worth the wait. On July 1, David Donehower Funeral and Cremation Service will host an open house at its new location.

Situated along the Highway 10 frontage road between Midwest Bank and the Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store and More, passersby have been able to watch in anticipation as the grandiose building has gone up over the last year.

"This process was a seven-year process," Funeral Director Dave Karsnia said. "But that doesn't mean we are slow."

The Highway 10 realignment project alone pushed the project back three years. In that time, though, the staff at David Donehower was able to get plenty of feedback on how to make their new facility the best it can be.

"The delay actually helped our building be more accommodating," Karsnia said.

Two of the biggest changes in funerals over the years, which the new building will fully accommodate, are the personalization of a service and the social aspect of it.

The chapel area is equipped with two big screen televisions because many people now incorporate videos and slideshows at funerals. It also gives the funeral home the ability to webcast services to those far away who can't attend the funeral.

"People want to make (services) as personal as they can get them."

Off the chapel is also a family room for those who need to "get away and catch their breath."

Another main room in the new funeral home is the reception area, filled with tables and a serving area.

"The social part is as important as the ceremony part," said Karsnia, who has been with David Donehower since 1971 with the exception of six years. "It's a celebration and acknowledgement of a person's life -- a validation of a person's life.

"Funerals are not nearly as somber as they used to be," he added.

He said that it's become very important and popular to reinforce what the deceased person meant to friends and family, and the social area is the chance for them to sit together, share memories and tell stories.

The social area hosts a caterer's kitchen. A caterer licensed through the Minnesota Department of Health can bring food in if it's going to be served to the public. The funeral home is working with area restaurants to provide a menu. If a family is just bringing the food for family, they don't need to have it catered.

Another change in the new building is the showroom where caskets are displayed. Karsnia said people have commented on it being uncomfortable to be in a room with so many caskets.

So in the new facility, the showroom will only have a few caskets and urns, and instead have samples and pictures of more to choose from available.

The prep area of the building is secured so there are no worries about theft.

The embalming room has state-of-the-art equipment, which is a benefit for the funeral directors.

"There is an air exchange system to protect the health of the embalmers," Karsnia said.

Outside the building, another convenience at the new funeral home is the expansive parking lot. Located on Lake Avenue across from the courthouse since it was built in 1936, the funeral home didn't provide much for parking.

That building is now available for sale, and includes five apartments -- which are continuously rented out -- above the funeral home.

Also with the new sizable location, the funeral home has the ability to host outdoor events during the funeral if the family wishes, like an outdoor reception or military rites.

"We're excited and pleased to bring this addition to the community," Karsnia said of the new building. "Our biggest value is the ability to be more flexible."

Another large change in funerals over the years is the planning behind one. Karsnia said more than half of the funerals nowadays are already pre-planned.

"It's important to write wishes down for the family. It's one of the biggest gifts," he said.

Karsnia said he'd like to thank the neighborhood for their patience during the construction of the new facility, and that David Donehower is excited to be a part of the Detroit Lakes community.

They will be hosting an open house on Sunday, July 1, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. It will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the main entrance at 1. From 1:15 to 3:45 p.m., there will be guided tours of the funeral home. A dedication service will take place at 4 p.m.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.