History

Stephens Family

Nathan and Valerie Stephens Family

In May 2000, Redwood Valley Funeral Home opened its doors in Redwood Falls.  At that time, the family-owned business also had funeral homes located in Westbrook, Tyler and Echo.  They also owned and operated Southern Minnesota Cremation Service providing cremation services to local families, and to other funeral homes throughout southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and eastern South Dakota.  In 2002, they purchased funeral homes in Tracy and Walnut Grove from the retiring local funeral director.  A new crematory was built in Redwood Falls in 2015.

In January 2006, Nathan Stephens (a longtime employee) and his wife Valerie purchased the funeral homes as well as the crematory from Tim and Joy Kulow.   These funeral homes weren’t always affiliated and each one has its own history.

Tracy Area Funeral Home began as Ohman Funeral Home in the 1930’s at its original location at 372 Third Street, with Lavern and Leona Ingalls owning and operating the facility.  Following Lavern’s death, Vernal Butson was hired as the funeral director.  He later purchased the funeral home with the name changed to Ohman/Butson Funeral Home and eventually the Butson Funeral Home. Vernal Butson owned and operated the business until the mid 1970’s. He then sold to John Jacobson, who changed the name to Butson/Jacobson Funeral Home and then Jacobson Funeral Home.  Tim Kulow purchased the business in 2002, renaming the business the Tracy Area Funeral Home.  Nathan and Val purchased the business in 2006, and built and opened the new facility, at its Morgan Street location, in 2011.

Walnut Grove Funeral Home began when Fred W. Schauer started his furniture and undertaking business in Walnut Grove in May 1899.  He served the community until September 1945, when he retired.  He sold the funeral service portion of the business to Oscar Hanson who changed the name to Hanson Funeral Services.  Two years later Mr. Hanson sold out to Maurice Weber and the name would change once again to Weber Funeral Services.  September, 1963 Vernal Butson purchased the funeral home and named it Butson Funeral Chapel.  In January 1976 John Jacobson bought a half interest and the name changed to the Butson-Jacobson Funeral Chapel.  Four months later Mr. Jacobson became sole owner and it became the Jacobson Funeral Chapel.  February 2002 John sold the business to Tim and Joy Kulow. They sold the building to Cindy Wahl, who enlarged her business, and a new building was constructed by the Kulows at its present location in Walnut Grove, with the name changed to Walnut Grove Funeral Home.   Nathan and Val Stephens then purchased the business in 2006, retaining the name.

In the early 1900s the funeral home in Westbrook was owned and operated by the Christensen family.  In 1932 Melvin Klasse moved to Westbrook and became a partner with Christensen.  They operated out of the home east of the current funeral home.  In 1958 Henry Schmalz started construction of the funeral home at its present site.  In 1959 it was completed when Melvin’s son Roger returned from military service and joined Melvin in the funeral home operation.  Roger Klasse bought the business from Melvin in 1970.  Melvin continued to help son Roger until his death.  Roger and Sharon Klasse operated the funeral home until 1990 when they sold the business to Elden “Al” Egesdal.  In 1996 Tim and Joy Kulow purchased the funeral home.  After the purchase the funeral home was completely remodeled and named the Westbrook Funeral Home.  Nathan and Valerie Stephens purchased the business in 2006 and took over operations along with their other locations.

The crematory, Southern Minnesota Cremation Service, was built in 1991 in Echo by Tim Kulow.  Through the crematory they provided cremation services to local families, and to other funeral homes throughout southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and eastern South Dakota.  Nathan Stephens continues to provide cremation service to families throughout the region.  A new crematory was built in Redwood Falls in 2015.

Tyler Area Funeral Home, located on Highway 14, was established and built by Tim and Joy Kulow in 1996 with its doors opening in March of 1997.  They owned and operated the funeral home until selling it to Nathan and Valerie Stephens January 1, 2006.