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Serving Dane County since 1922

Four generations of family, along with an excellent staff, Gunderson Funeral Home proudly serves your family with the same personal care and dedication that has been passed down from generation to generation. Since 1922, Gunderson Funeral Home has been Dane County’s longest serving single family funeral home. With seven convenient locations throughout south central Wisconsin, Gunderson Funeral Home has orchestrated compassionate, individualized life celebrations and funeral services in our communities.

Gunderson Funeral Home - Wisconsin

 

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PETER GUNDERSON President

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MIKE SMITS General Manager and Licensed Funeral Director

Mike is originally from Antigo, Wisconsin, graduating from Antigo High School in 1981. He has worked in  funeral service since 1983. Mike graduated from the funeral service program at Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1985, and has been part of the Gunderson Funeral Home since 1987.

Mike and his wife, Cindy, along with their three daughters, have made McFarland their home since 1988. He is very involved in the McFarland community, serving on the McFarland Education Foundation Board of Directors,  is a member of the McFarland Optimists Club, and a former member of McFarland Basketball Boosters  Board of Directors and Christ the King Catholic Church where he had served as an usher, Eucharistic Minister, and a religious education committee member and instructor. In addition, Mike has also been active in Stoughton; having served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, including two terms as president and the Stoughton Area Community Foundation Board of Directors.

In his free time, Mike enjoys spending time with his family,  running, golf, and Badgers football and basketball.

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DAN DEDERICH Manager and Licensed Funeral Director

Dan was raised in the Sauk Prairie area, and currently resides in Waunakee with his wife and two children. After earning his degree in mortuary science in 1982, Dan worked for the Winn Funeral Home in Waunakee, and later Slettten McKee Hanson Funeral Home in LaCrosse before joining Gunderson Funeral Home in 1990. He is a member of the Middleton Optimist Club and is involved with both the Middleton and Cross Plains Chambers of Commerce.

Dan says that trying to help people through the most challenging moment of their lives with the loss of a loved one and being able to make that difficult situation memorable and positive are what compel him to be a compassionate funeral director.

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JIM DUPOR Retired Funeral Director Emeritus

Jim graduated from Madison LaFollette High School in 1981. He later attended and graduated from Madison Area Technical College with a degree in mortuary science. Jim joined Gunderson Funeral home as an apprentice, and has now been a licensed funeral director since 1986. Jim and his family have resided in McFarland since 1988.

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STEPHANIE VONBEHREN Manager and Licensed Funeral Director

Stephanie is formerly of North Freedom, Wisconsin. She graduated from Baraboo High School in 1990 Stephanie continued her education at the UW-Baraboo/Sauk County campus, focusing her career on being a registered nurse.  Her career took a different direction after she experienced the loss of a close family member. The positive experience at a terrible time was made possible through her hometown funeral director. Stephanie went on to graduate from Milwaukee Area Technical College with an associate degree in mortuary science, and began working at Gunderson Funeral Home in 1998. Stephanie currently resides in DeForest with her husband, David, and their children, Jordan and Taylor.

On the beautiful, Wisconsin winter days, you can find Stephanie downhill skiing. When all the wonderful snow has melted away, Stephanie enjoys biking and hiking in the state parks.

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MARTHA PATON Administrative Manager

Martha was born and raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  For the past 13 years, she worked in the construction industry.  Upon leaving her position she spent time thinking about what she wanted to do with the rest of her career.  She knew that she wanted to find something outside the corporate world and when she heard about a position opening with Gunderson Funeral Homes, she jumped at the opportunity.  Martha is excited to combine both her business skills with her compassion for helping people.

In her spare time she enjoys golfing, exercising, reading, spending time with friends, family and her two Catahoula Leopard Dog rescues. 

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DALE HOLZHUTER Licensed Funeral Director

Dale was born and raised on a farm near Deerfield, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Madison East High School, UW-Whitewater and Milwaukee Mortuary School. Dale served his apprenticeship with Gunderson Funeral Home in 1959 and became a licensed funeral director in 1964. For over 20 years, Dale co-owned funeral homes in Stoughton, McFarland and Deerfield, Wisconsin.  He has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 2001.

Dale is married to the former Marian Christenson of Stoughton.  He and Marian enjoy all sports, but especially Wisconsin football and basketball.

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JEFF HRON Licensed Funeral Director

Jeff is a lifelong Madison area resident. He graduated from DeForest High School in 1990.  He continued his education, graduating from Madison Area Technical College in 1993, with an associate degree in marketing, and from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1996, with an associate degree in mortuary science. Jeff served his funeral service apprenticeship in Waukesha, Wisconsin and then joined Gunderson Funeral Home in November 1995.

Jeff has been an active member in the Monona Grove Optimist Club since 1999. He has served as club president and as a lieutenant governor for the Southern Wisconsin District. Jeff has been a lifelong member of Christ Lutheran Church in DeForest, where he has lived for many years.

He and his wife, Candi, have been married since 2000. Together they enjoy spending time with their three dogs, Bam Bam, Mr. Beanie and Pixie. Jeff likes camping, antique and collection cars, car shows, hiking and generally spending time outdoors.

“I love my job working as a funeral director because I feel I can be a helpful guide to families through some of the most difficult time in their life.”

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JOHN JACOBSEN Licensed Funeral Director

Having grown up in a Lutheran Minister’s family, John lived in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  A graduate of Portage Sr. High, Dana College and Worsham College of Mortuary Science,  John has been a Funeral Director in Madison since 2005.  In his first career, John worked for over 20 years  in community based services for persons with disabilities both in Nebraska and Wisconsin.  John and Lois are active in their church’s music ministry and are active volunteers with The Road Home in Madison. They enjoy Door County, kayaking in the UP with close friends, Devil’s Lake, and all things Wisconsin.  Having raised twin sons, they now live with Molly the Jack Russell and Libby the cat.

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MYKAL JENSEN Licensed Funeral Director

Mykal was born in Southern Oregon, but moved around quite a bit during her formative years. She spent most of her youth living in Pinedale, Wyoming and Gallup, New Mexico. These places exposed her to a diversity of cultures and people. She attended University of New Mexico where she studied Psychology. After a career change from a veterinary assistant, she came to the Midwest via Chicago and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 2016. Upon graduation, she quickly found a home in the beautiful city of Madison where she is an avid equestrian, bike rider, and all around adventure seeker. She enjoys attending church at Blackhawk and enjoying the many parks and lakes in the area. Mykal has found her calling in funeral service and enthusiastically greets every family with warmth and compassion to assist with what can be the most difficult time of their lives. 

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MARK LINDER Licensed Funeral Director

Orginally from Nebraska, Mark joined our funeral home in 2011. Becoming a funeral director was a lifelong dream for Mark.

He spent 20 years in the insurance industry serving as an agency owner and manager of a branch agency. Mark attended the University of Nebraska and graduated from the Milwaukee Area TEchnical College Funeral Science Program with an Associate's Degree in Applied Science. He has served as a Funeral Director in Marshfield, as well as the Philadelphia area.

Mark and his wife, Helen, have two children, son, Mark II, and his wife Erin, and daughter, Jennifer. They are proud grandparents of Violet and Avalo. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, camping, traveling, sports and spending time with his grandchildren. Mark and his wife reside in Oregon.

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STEVE MORRIS Licensed Funeral Director

Steve Morris grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he became a licensed funeral director first before moving here to become a licensed director in Wisconsin.  He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and served twice in Kuwait and Mogadishu, Somalia.  Steve is currently involved with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helping to make sure our Veterans receive their benefits. When not working and volunteering, Steve loves to spend time with his teenage daughter.  He also enjoys hunting, fishing, target shooting, and watching football, especially the Wolverines!  Steve loves the outdoors and watching documentaries, learning as much as he can.  He enjoys his job here at Gunderson’s and is honored to be able to care for our families and our community.  

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SIERRA MELLO-MILES Licensed Funeral Director

Sierra is an Alaskan Native.  She joined the United States Army in 2001, was stationed in Germany and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom I & II.  Sierra earned her Bachelor of Science in Management and Masters in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix in Arizona.  Sierra earned her Associates in Funeral Service from Milwaukee Area Technical College.  Sierra loves spending time with her two young daughters; Serenity and Raina.  Sierra has fallen in love with Wisconsin’s culture, seasons and people.  “I’ve never lived or worked in a place where people care so much about one another.  Gunderson’s really exemplifies the Golden Rule towards both employees and the families served.”

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MICHELLE RINEHART Licensed Funeral Director

Michelle was born and raised in Madison, and currently resides in her childhood home with her daughter, Samantha. She graduated from Madison East High School and went on to attend UW-Richland Center, majoring in sports medicine.  After her freshman year of college, Michelle’s grandfather died, which changed her career path. Michelle graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1993, with an associate degree in mortuary science. She worked for Ward Funeral Home in Edgerton/Evansville for two and a half years, and for Joyce Ryan Funeral Home before settling in at Gunderson Funeral Home in February of 1996.

Michelle enjoys playing volleyball, watching men’s college basketball and watching her daughter’s sporting events. She is also active with her church, St. Bernard Catholic Church, the Women’s Group and is very involved with Girl Scouts.

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RACHEL WARTES Licensed Funeral Director

A recent Wisconsin transplant.  Rachel came to Madison by way of Chicago where she attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science.  Originally from Colorado, Rachel received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2010 from Metropolitan State University of Denver where she studied Sociology and Psychology.  She is an avid runner and enjoys hiking, biking and camping in her free time.  Rachel is thrilled to join the Gunderson team and call Madison home.

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KASEY WILSON Licensed Funeral Director

Kasey grew up in Necedah, Wisconsin.  She is married with two girls, age 3 years and 3 months, who keep her very busy.  Kasey enjoys spending time with family, especially outdoors; going on picnics, trips to the zoo, spending time boating, fishing, and going to the beach and water parks.  She takes pride in listening to people and being able to help them through the toughest time in their life.  Kasey is honored to guide families through the process and be there for them every step of the way.

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DANIELLE VAYRE Licensed Funeral Director

Danielle grew up in Michigan and is number 9 of 10 siblings. After high school, she moved to Arizona and received a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix. Danielle moved to Madison from Mexico City, Mexico after raising her 3 children.   She is bilingual and received her associate’s degree in Mortuary Science at MATC, Milwaukee. Her passions include cooking, family night dinners, and traveling with family and friends. Danielle is also active in softball and bowling leagues, and an American Legion Auxiliary Member in McFarland.

 

 

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SAMANTHA ZOROMSKI Licensed Funeral Director

Samantha was born in Marshfield and raised in Wisconsin Rapids.  She graduated with the Class of 2007 from East Troy High School and attained her Associate’s Degree in Funeral Service from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2011.  During her apprenticeship she worked for Schremka-Borwardt Funeral Home in Milwaukee before moving in December of 2012, to Medford where she worked for Hemer Funeral Home.  She received her funeral directors license in October of 2013.  Samantha decided to move closer to her family in Madison and knew that Gunderson Funeral Homes were staffed with caring and professional individuals whose experience she could learn and grow from.  As a result, she became a part of the Gunderson family in March of 2017.  Samantha loves the Madison area and looks forward to becoming a part of the wonderful community.

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RICHARD "RIC" VANDERHOEF Certified Pre-Planning Consultant

A life long Madison East Side/Cottage Grove resident, Ric came to Gunderson’s in the early 90's.  Beginning as a pre-need specialist,  Ric obtained The CPC (Certified Pre-Planning Consultant) designation from the National Funeral Directors Association with in a few years.  In his spare time Ric enjoys time with his family and fishing, while always having a home project underway.  

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NICOLE PERRIN Accountant

Nicole Perrin has been with the Gunderson Funeral Home since 1998. She is originally from Wauwatosa. Nicole graduated from Edgewood College with her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. In her free time, Nicole enjoys reading, crafts and spending time with family & friends.

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BRENDA LANG Accounting Assistant

Brenda was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin.  She worked over 30 years in the lumber industry before deciding to make a change and join Gunderson Funeral Homes in November of 2014. In her free time, Brenda enjoys reading and watching the Brewers, especially tailgating before games.  She also enjoys spending time with her family, especially her son.

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DEDE SIMON-KESSENICH Billing Specialist

DeDe was raised in Martinsville, Wisconsin and graduated from Middleton High School and has lived in the Middleton area since 1976 with her husband, Dennis. Together they proudly raised three daughters. DeDe loves any activity that involves her family, enjoys traveling and attending sporting events.

When I came to Gunderson Funeral Home I knew it would be a perfect fit for me. To work with a group of people that are compassionate for the staff that works with them, and to see firsthand that each family Gunderson Funeral Home works with is handled with the upmost respect and provided with everything needed to get them through this devasting time.

DeDe comes to us with an extensive background in insurance, billing and customer service and is enjoying putting her experience to work here at Gunderson Funeral Home.

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SARA PATON BARKENHAGEN Stoughton Administrative Assistant

Sara was born and raised in Stoughton.  For more than 30 years, her career has been as an administrative assistant in education.  Ready for a change, she was fortunate to be hired in a position where she is able to continue to interact with and help families. In her spare time, her favorite hobby is staying home.  Sara currently lives in Deerfield with her husband, Dennis Barkenhagen. She has three grown children, Luke Natvig; his wife Amanda; and their children, Sylas Natvig and Joe and Kendal Coleman all of Marshall, Peter Natvig of Stoughton, and Carly Natvig of Seattle, Washington.

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BETTY DAUCK Administrative Assistant

After working for Gunderson Funeral Home for over 10 years, Betty thought that it was her time to retire. She soon realized how much she missed greeting the public and helping families in difficult times and returned working part time at the Gunderson West location.

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CHRISTINE DROESSLER Administrative Assistant

Christine was born in Madison and raised in Stoughton.  She graduated from Stoughton High School.  Go Vikings!  She worked in the retail and service industry before joining the Administrative team at Gunderson’s.  Christine’s hobbies include movies, TV shows and books of the comedic variety, as well as improvised sketch theatre.  She enjoys the water and any chance to be in the sun or shade. Christine is very interested in food, especially Indian and pasta recipes.  She loves any and all dogs and music, especially Fleetwood Mac. 

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KIRSTEN GUNDERSON Administrative Assistant

Kirsten grew up in Middleton, graduating from Middleton High School in 2012. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Biology. Upon graduation in December 2014, Kirsten looks forward to medical school and pursuing her career in the medical field. Kirsten is passionate about helping others and is involved with a number of organizations on the UW campus. She enjoys volunteering with Agrace HospiceCare and coaching with the Middleton girls’ varsity soccer team. In her spare time, Kirsten enjoys hiking, horseback riding, playing soccer and spending time with family.

 

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LAUREN GUNDERSON Administrative Assistant

Lauren grew up in Middleton, graduating from Middleton High School in 2008.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Consumer Affairs along with a Certificate in Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, while competing as a student-athlete on the women's soccer team.  Upon graduation, Lauren moved to London, England to work for more than a year before returning home to become involved in the family business.  In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time outdoors, playing soccer, traveling, and baking.

 

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LISA KREBS Administrative Assistant

Lisa was born in Minnesota and currently lives in Sun Prairie. She recently received her associate’s degree in Business Management at Madison Area Technical College. Previous to being hired at Gunderson Funeral Home, Lisa worked at UW Hospital for 5 ½ years. She is thrilled to be able to work in a position where she is able to utilize her skills and knowledge, along with remaining in an environment where care and compassion is a big part of the job. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys cooking, reading, working out and spending time with her cat, boyfriend, friends and family.

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JANELLE LAFROMBOIS Fitchburg Administrative Assistant

Janelle grew up in Brooklyn, WI and graduated from Oregon High School in 1987.  She continued her education graduating from MATC in 1990 with an Associate’s Degree in Dietetics and from the UW-Madison in 1999 with a B.S. in Rehabilitation Psychology.  Before joining Gunderson, Janelle worked for 24 years at the Edgerton Care Center serving the residents as a Dietetic Technician Registered.  She is married to Dan and they reside in Stoughton with their 2 children, Zach and Brynn.  Janelle loves spending time with her family and friends.

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JOAN LAUFENBERG Middleton Office Manager

Joan has been with the Gunderson Funeral Home since 1999, working in the Middleton location in a support role for the funeral directors. She says that customer service, care and compassion are important to her, and working at Gunderson Funeral Home gives her the opportunity to use these skills, along with family core values, to help families in their time of need.

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TANYA (DUPOR) RUEF Administrative Assistant

Tanya grew up in McFarland graduating from McFarland High School in 2006. Tanya has been working with Gunderson Funeral Home since May 2008. She is the fourth member of the Dupor family to work at Gunderson Funeral Home.

Tanya and her husband, Mike, reside in Sun Prairie with their dog, Memphis and two cats. During their free time, they love spending the summer weekends at the family camper in Milton and going to the movies. Tanya also enjoys running in local 5k races with her grandfather (who sadly she has yet to beat), attempting beginner's quilting projects, gardening, and golfing with her family and friends.

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PATTY SEILER Lodi Office Manager and Funeral Assistant

Patty started working for Gunderson Funeral Home in March of 2012 after retiring from the Veterans Administration Hospital with almost 35 years of service. She works as a family service assistant and adminstrative assistant to the funeral director.

Patty is a life-long resident of Lodi and has two children, Becky and Garret. She loves spending time with her family, especially her grandson, Ty. Patty can be seen everyday in Lodi being walked by her two German Shepherds, Chubbs and Dixie.

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DEBBIE STUDT Administrative Assistant

Debbie was born and raised in Monroe, WI. She moved to Madison in 2000 and spent most of her career in the building business. After losing her father to cancer in 1999, Debbie realized what comfort it was to have HospiceCare walk her and her family through the end stages of his life. It was shortly thereafter that she became an inpatient Hospice volunteer and most recently a vigil volunteer. It was through her volunteering that lead her to a position with Gunderson Funeral  Home. Debbie is proud to be part of a team who is dedicated to compassionately serving families in need with integrity and respect. Each day her life is touched by someone else’s sadness.  Debbie feels the deepest experiences of life are impacted by those around us that guide us through them.  She truly believes pain does not always have to be private. 

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KAREN THOMPSON Administrative Assistant

Karen is a lifelong resident of the Madison area. She graduated from La Follette High School and attended MATC in Madison.  Karen has a wonderful daughter, Kaitlin, and a beautiful granddaughter, Chesney, who is also Karen's baking assistant!  She loves being a mom and grandma and thinks it’s the most wonderful experience! Karen is an avid fan of the Badgers, Packers and Brewers, but has a fondness for Badger Basketball.

Since the age of 16, Karen has worked in the service industry, wearing many hats over the years. She had always wanted to work in the funeral industry, drawn to it by personal loss and grief.   Karen strives to serve and help families through their difficult time by assisting them in having a loving and memorable experience.

 “I find my position very rewarding. It is an honor to be a part of the Gunderson Funeral Home family”.

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ALYSSA HALVERSON Funeral Director Apprentice

Alyssa was born and raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  She graduated from Stoughton High School in 2014.  Alyssa enjoys hot weather, spending time with family and friends, and her dog, Lacy. 

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KAITLYNN LENOIR Funeral Director Apprentice

Kaitlynn was born in Elgin, Illinois and raised in Rockford, Illinois.  She graduated from Guilford High School in Rockford.  After high school she attended Rockford University and earned a degree in Biology.  In 2016, she graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science.  Kaitlynn worked for Sundberg Funeral Home in Rockford, Illinois.  She decided to come to work for Gunderson Funeral Homes because she felt it would allow her the best experience possible while learning every aspect of the funeral business.

In her spare time, Kaitlynn enjoys being lazy with her husband, Jordan and playing with her cat, Pepper and dog, Fred.

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CASSIDY OLSON Funeral Director Apprentice

Cassidy grew up in Orfordville, Wisconsin and graduated from Parkview High School.  She worked for Gander Mountain for the past five years and really enjoyed helping out at their family funeral home.  Cassidy decided to join Gunderson’s as an apprentice to expand her knowledge of the business.  She is excited to learn and grow with Gunderson’s.  Cassidy enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, watching shows on Netflix, and spending time with her boyfriend and puppy, Jager.

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SAMANTHA RINEHART Funeral Director Apprentice

Samantha is a 2009 graduate of Madison East High School. After high school she went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she earned her bachelor’s degree in social work. Despite being in her 20’s, Samantha enjoys reading, crocheting, and playing bingo in her free time. She also enjoys playing volleyball and going on motorcycle rides. 

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DEAN "DON" DENSON Funeral Service Associate

Don is a lifelong resident of Middleton. After working in the concrete business for 45 years, he retired in 1997. Don joined Gunderson Funeral Home in 2005, and says that he enjoys working with people and helping families in any way that he can.

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GREG DAHMEN Funeral Service Associate

Greg has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 1990. After working in the retail management field for his entire career, Greg says that he was happy to use his customer services skills in such an rewarding way. “Meeting and assisting the many wonderful families has been a privilege and I look forward to continuing to be there in their time of need.”

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JAMES "JIM" GREEN Funeral Service Associate

Jim, a lifelong Madisonian, resides in Fitchburg with his wife, Suzanne.  They have an adult daughter that also lives in the area.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, Jim has owned and operated three different businesses in the consumer products industry.  In his retirement he continues to participate in various sporting activities, in addition to being a fan of all major sports.

Jim takes great pride in being a part of the Gunderson team; a group of caring professionals dedicated to addressing the needs of families in difficult times.

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HERBERT GUNDLACH Funeral Service Associate

Herb is originally from Oregon, Wisconsin. He was drafted into the Army in 1955. Herb returned home, and played in a dance band for 43 years. He currently resides in Fitchburg with his wife. They are members at Holy Mother of Consolation Catholic Church, where he has played the organ and been a member since 1946.

Herb says that he has always had an interest in the funeral business since he retired from a repair and maintenance business in 1993. He has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 1993.

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MATT GUNDERSON Funeral Service Associate

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JOE KELLERMAN Funeral Service Associate

Joe is originally from Watertown , Wisconsin . He attended St. Lawrence Seminary, Watertown High School and earned a graphic arts degree from Madison College . Before joining Gunderson Funeral Home, he worked 49 years at Webcrafters Printing Company as an IT manager.

Before moving to Madison , Joe and his wife, Joan, lived in McFarland where they raised four children.  Joe is a member of Christ the King Catholic Church in McFarland were he served on the finance committee, was a member of the Men’s Club, taught religious education and volunteered at Luke House. He was on the board of directors of the Madison Jaycees, was the charter president of the McFarland Jaycees, and was the past presidents of the McFarland Music Boosters and the Blackhawk Home Owners Association.  He delivered meals for Meals on Wheels for many years and served as a volunteer for United Way.

In his free time Joe enjoys spending time with his 10 grandchildren, watching their sporting events, music performances and drama productions.  He is an avid Badger basketball fan, a Packer fan and a Brewers fan.

Joe feels very fortunate to work with a team of dedicated caring individuals committed to helping families at a very difficult time in their lives.

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BOB KLEINSCHMIDT Funeral Service Associate

Bob grew up in Wauwatosa and moved to Middleton in 1997.  He retired in 2014 after more than 30 years in the financial service industry.  Bob missed the personal contact with clients and so jumped at the chance to be of service at Gunderson Funeral Homes.  He has been married to Becky for 37 years and has raised two sons. He also has two grandsons to be proud of.

When Bob is not helping families at Gundersons, he enjoys spending time with family, watching University of Wisconsin and Green Bay sports, flying RC airplanes, and working on genealogy.

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SARAH KUKEC Funeral Service Associate

Sarah was born and raised in the Chicagoland area, but has also called Washington, D.C. and Japan home.  She graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs and East Asian Studies.  Sarah later graduated magna cum laude from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL. 

 

Prior to entering funeral service, Sarah taught English in elementary schools in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.  She considers Hagi and Tokyo her second home and goes back to visit whenever she can. 

 

In her free time, Sarah loves to travel, read, play the flute and shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese lute), and study Japanese.  Sarah also loves horror movies and anything to do with Abraham Lincoln.

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JEFFREY MERGEN Funeral Service Associate

Jeffrey Mergen was born and raised in Platteville, Wisconsin.  He graduated from University of Wisconsin-Platteville in Radio/TV Broadcasting (Communications).  Jeffrey worked as a television/sports announcer and as a greyhound racetrack staff announcer for several dog parks in Iowa and Wisconsin.  He was known as “The Voice of Wisconsin Greyhound Racing”, having called over 60,000 races.  Jeffrey was looking for a career change, and since having grown up around and working in the funeral service with his Dad, he contacted Gunderson’s. “I will forever be very, very grateful to the Gunderson family for giving me this chance.  I feel as though I have a new family here. Working together as a team to help other families, is a wonderful, rewarding feeling.” On his off time, Jeffrey enjoys golfing, walking/jogging, thrift shopping and announcing.

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RICHARD E. "DICK" PETERSON Funeral Service Associate

Dick Peterson was born on September 22nd  in Viroqua, WI.  He was a member of the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  Dick received his Funeral Director’s license on January 1, 1963.  He joined the staff at Gunderson Funeral & Cremation Centers in the Spring of 1976.

Some organizations, memberships and activities Dick is involved with include a 45 year member and past Grand Knight of KC Council #4586; 40 year Honorary Life Member of the Bishop Wm. P. O’Connor 4th Degree Assembly Knights of Columbus; 41 year Life Member of the Madison Elks Lodge No. 410; 33 year member of the East Madison/Monona Optimist Club, and currently serving as their President for the year 2008-2009.

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RICHARD "DICK" RINEHART Funeral Service Associate

Dick moved to Madison after graduating high school in 1965.  He and his wife, Jan, have been married for over 40 years. Together they have a daughter, Michelle, and a granddaughter, Samantha. Dick spent 36 years with the Madison Police Department, retiring in 2001. He worked as a cadet officer, police officer, sergeant and lieutenant. Dick had the opportunity to work a patrol beat, work in communications, special operations, and served as a district lieutenant for both the Central and North Police Districts. During his years as a lieutenant, he also coordinated the field training of all police recruit officers.

Dick has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1997. He has served two terms as grand knight of Council 9082.  Dick has also served as faithful navigator for Bishop O’Connor 4th Degree Assembly 1200, and recently served three years as district deputy for the five Madison Knights of Columbus Councils. He is a past president of the Board of Directors for the ATTIC Correctional Facility on Madison’s east side, and is a former big brother with Big Brother Big Sisters of Dane County. Dick is a current member of Saint Bernard Catholic Church and is active in numerous parish ministries and events. He has been a staff member since 2001, serving as the director of volunteers.

Dick finds his work at Gunderson Funeral Home very rewarding. He says that he has found several similarities to his career in police work, allowing him to continue to offer help, compassion and comfort to individuals and families during a difficult time.

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PETE THORPE Funeral Service Associate

Pete grew up on the east side of Madison and Monona, graduating from Monona Grove High School in 1964. He and his wife, JoAnn have been married for 46 years and have three daughters and nine grandchildren all in the area.

He worked for the City of Monona as a Police Officer for 31 years, with the last 16 years in the investigative division where he attained the rank of Lieutenant, retiring in 2000. Pete then worked in the Dane County Coroners Office for 10 years, before coming to work for Gundersons.

Having worked in law enforcement and the Coroners Office taught him to be able to deal with people in crisis situations and with grieving the death of someone close to them.

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ZANE TORGRUDE Funeral Service Associate

Zane Torgrude was in the Financial Services industry for over 30 years as a trainer, Regional V.P. and Financial Planner.  He most currently was a Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor with BMO Harris Financial Advisors and retired March 31, 2016.  

Prior to the Financial Services industry, Zane served for 11 years as a Lutheran pastor and specialized in human services as a speaker, counselor, manager, and fund raiser.

Zane earned his B.A. from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1966 and obtained a Masters in Theology from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN in 1970.  Zane also achieved his Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations from the American College in Bryn Mare, Pennsylvania in 1988. 

Zane is married to Susan and is the proud parent of two daughters and has five grandchildren.  One of his grandsons, Noah, was born with Down Syndrome.  It is because of Noah that Zane, serving as Board President, led a group to bring a GiGis Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center to Madison, WI which opened in May 2016.

Zane is now honored to be part of the team at Gunderson Funeral Homes where he assists in providing a culture where families and individuals can celebrate the life of a lost loved one.

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TOM ULLSVIK Funeral Service Associate

Growing-up on Madison's Eastside, Tom worked at his family's Scandinavian market while attending East High School and UW-Madison. A Viet Nam vet, Tom returned to Madison and a banking career lasting 40 years. Long-time members of Bethel Lutheran Church, Tom and his wife Sue live in Middleton where they raised a son and two daughters and now are delighted to have seven grandchildren, all in this area. Tom joined Gunderson Funeral Homes in September of 2011 and has been honored to serve many families, some of which he has known for decades.

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JIM STOKER Certified Crematory Specialist

Jim grew up in Monona Wisconsin.  He was an auto mechanic for 32 years and then worked at Highland Memory Gardens for 8 years prior to joining Gunderson.  His work as a mechanic built in him a very strong work ethic and a positive mental attitude.  Jim and his wife, Leanne love to take their boat out onto Lake Mendota and let the world go by.  He enjoys the outdoors; hunting and fishing, and watching his grandkids do anything.  

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PAUL SELBO Certified Crematory Specialist and Funeral Service Associate

Paul has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 2003. He is a graduate of Stoughton High School and UW-LaCrosse. Paul is a member of Stoughton Village Players, the Honorary “S” Club, Christ Lutheran Church, Stoughton Festival Choir and the Stoughton Hall of fame Committee.

Paul and his wife, Sue, have two sons, Dan and Tom. He enjoys running, golf, motorcycling, theater and small town festivals.

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KEN BERG Vital Statistics Coordinator

Ken is from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He is a 1960 graduate of La Crosse Central High School. Ken served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1963. He graduated from Madison Business College in 1966. Ken enjoys fishing, card playing, and is a fan of the Packers and the Badgers. He is a member of McFarland Lutheran Church. Ken and his wife, Jane have three children and six grandchildren.

Ken has served as the vital statistics coordinator at Gunderson Funeral Home since 1998. He says, “It is a honor to work with great staff that share the same feelings in serving families, to work together towards a common goal.”

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LINDA COLLETTI Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist

Linda is an aftercare specialist who seeks to comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Drawing from personal experiences and those of others, she has a deep understanding of the challenges of grief.  Linda has been a grief counselor for over 20 years, and believes we all have the resiliency and wisdom to find our way on the journey.

Linda resides in Belleville with her husband, Wayne, and a very cute and spoiled Cocker Spaniel. She has two grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and a step daughter. Linda loves being a grandma to three year old Evan. She says, “If I would have known being a grandma was so much fun, I would have done that first!”

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KATE FORD ROBERTS Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist

Kate has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 1991. She is the co-founder of the Center for Life and Loss Integration at San Damiano, a grief-counseling center in Madison. She was involved in starting the University Hospital and Clinics Palliative Care Program in 1999. Her education has also earned her End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) certification, and is certified in Hospice and Palliative and Nursing (CHPN). She has a bachelor's degree in nursing and a master's degree in psychology-palliative care and bereavement.

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JUDY KOEPPL Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist

Judy has been a grief counselor and aftercare specialist at Gunderson Funeral Home since 1990. Prior to joining Gunderson Funeral Home, Judy developed the bereavement program at HospiceCare, Inc. of Madison and served as the program director for numerous years. Judy is the co-founder and director of the Center for Life and Loss Integration at San Damiano, a grief-counseling center in Madison.

Judy feels it is a great privilege to work with and support individuals and families as they go through difficult times in their lives.  She is a member of the Academy of Credentialed Social Workers and is a certified thanantologist. Judy also holds a master's degree in social work, and is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She is a Red Cross volunteer in the Disaster Mental Health field and was able to work with the Red Cross to help surviving family members of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Judy loves the outdoors, and among some of the more active trips she and her husband and family have taken, she has especially enjoyed backpack canoe trips in Quetico, hiking in the Grand Canyon, and sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands. Other less active pursuits include travel, a love of books, and spending time with family and friends.

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STEVE ZWETTLER Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist

Steve was born and raised in Madison.  He graduated from Holy Name Seminary High School in Madison, college from St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, and graduate school from St. Francis School of Pastoral Ministry in Milwaukee with independent studies in Theology from Marquette University School of Theology. Steve worked as a high school teacher, pastor, spiritual director, retreat speaker, high school teacher, Pastor, Chaplain at Meriter Hospital, Director of Mission Effectiveness for St. Coletta in Jefferson, and Chaplain for Agrace HospiceCare in Madison. 

 

Steve has worked with Gunderson often over the past 10 years, providing funeral services for hospice patients.  He developed a great respect for Gunderson staff members and the compassionate way in which they cared for their families.  After retiring from Agrace HospiceCare, it was a natural fit for him to team with Gunderson Funeral Home as a member of their Aftercare team, and also in planning for and presiding at funeral services for families.  Steve is grateful to Gunderson for the opportunity to work together in caring for families at such an important time. 

 

Outside of work, Steve enjoys gardening, reading, biking, golfing, volunteering, traveling, Wisconsin football and basketball, and having dinner around the fireplace with his wife, Barbara and their friends.

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SHARON AMBROSE Beautician

Sharon is from Madison, Wisconsin. She graduated From LaFollette High School, and earned her degree at Madison Area Technical College in cosmetology in 1967.  Sharon worked and managed a salon in Madison for 16 years.  She then worked with the elderly in a salon at a nursing home for over 14 years. Sharon now has a salon in Madison for the last several years. She started working at Gunderson Funeral Home while working at the nursing home. Families would ask her to do their loved ones hair after passing. They felt more comfortable with someone that was familiar with them.  Sharon says she feels that she can best serve the families and their loved ones by making a pleasant lasting memory for the family.

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JOY GUNDERSON Hair Designer

Joy Gunderson was born and raised in Madison.  She currently resides in Stoughton with her husband Jeff and their two boys, Zander and Skyler.  As a hair designer, Joy owned and operated her own business for over 20 years, mainly within Monona.  She takes pride in her job and receives a real sense of satisfaction; whether it's working on her own clients, or those at the Gunderson Funeral Home.

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CLARENCE "BOB" BYRNE Facility Maintenance

Bob Byrne farmed all his life, until 2002.  He is now retired from farming and currently takes care of the lawn work and flowers at Gunderson Funeral Home.  He also enjoys traveling.

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JOHN SIMON Facility Maintenance

John was raised in Martinsville and comes from a family of seven sisters and four brothers. He graduated from Middleton High School and then started working for Feiner Furniture. He worked for Feiner for 38 years, learning numerous skills that includes, but not limited to, furniture repair, floor coving installation and repair and general maintence. He joined Gunderson Funeral Home in March of 2012

John lives in Cross Plains with his wife Katie. Together they raised three children, that were very active in sports. Lots of time was spent at the ball fields! For many years John coached and for the past five years he has been the business manager for the Cross Plains Home Talent Baseball Team.

PETER GUNDERSON

President
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MIKE SMITS

General Manager and Licensed Funeral Director
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Mike is originally from Antigo, Wisconsin, graduating from Antigo High School in 1981. He has worked in  funeral service since 1983. Mike graduated from the funeral service program at Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1985, and has been part of the Gunderson Funeral Home since 1987.

Mike and his wife, Cindy, along with their three daughters, have made McFarland their home since 1988. He is very involved in the McFarland community, serving on the McFarland Education Foundation Board of Directors,  is a member of the McFarland Optimists Club, and a former member of McFarland Basketball Boosters  Board of Directors and Christ the King Catholic Church where he had served as an usher, Eucharistic Minister, and a religious education committee member and instructor. In addition, Mike has also been active in Stoughton; having served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, including two terms as president and the Stoughton Area Community Foundation Board of Directors.

In his free time, Mike enjoys spending time with his family,  running, golf, and Badgers football and basketball.

DAN DEDERICH

Manager and Licensed Funeral Director
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Dan was raised in the Sauk Prairie area, and currently resides in Waunakee with his wife and two children. After earning his degree in mortuary science in 1982, Dan worked for the Winn Funeral Home in Waunakee, and later Slettten McKee Hanson Funeral Home in LaCrosse before joining Gunderson Funeral Home in 1990. He is a member of the Middleton Optimist Club and is involved with both the Middleton and Cross Plains Chambers of Commerce.

Dan says that trying to help people through the most challenging moment of their lives with the loss of a loved one and being able to make that difficult situation memorable and positive are what compel him to be a compassionate funeral director.

JIM DUPOR

Retired Funeral Director Emeritus
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Jim graduated from Madison LaFollette High School in 1981. He later attended and graduated from Madison Area Technical College with a degree in mortuary science. Jim joined Gunderson Funeral home as an apprentice, and has now been a licensed funeral director since 1986. Jim and his family have resided in McFarland since 1988.

STEPHANIE VONBEHREN

Manager and Licensed Funeral Director
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Stephanie is formerly of North Freedom, Wisconsin. She graduated from Baraboo High School in 1990 Stephanie continued her education at the UW-Baraboo/Sauk County campus, focusing her career on being a registered nurse.  Her career took a different direction after she experienced the loss of a close family member. The positive experience at a terrible time was made possible through her hometown funeral director. Stephanie went on to graduate from Milwaukee Area Technical College with an associate degree in mortuary science, and began working at Gunderson Funeral Home in 1998. Stephanie currently resides in DeForest with her husband, David, and their children, Jordan and Taylor.

On the beautiful, Wisconsin winter days, you can find Stephanie downhill skiing. When all the wonderful snow has melted away, Stephanie enjoys biking and hiking in the state parks.

MARTHA PATON

Administrative Manager
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Martha was born and raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  For the past 13 years, she worked in the construction industry.  Upon leaving her position she spent time thinking about what she wanted to do with the rest of her career.  She knew that she wanted to find something outside the corporate world and when she heard about a position opening with Gunderson Funeral Homes, she jumped at the opportunity.  Martha is excited to combine both her business skills with her compassion for helping people.

In her spare time she enjoys golfing, exercising, reading, spending time with friends, family and her two Catahoula Leopard Dog rescues. 

DALE HOLZHUTER

Licensed Funeral Director
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Dale was born and raised on a farm near Deerfield, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Madison East High School, UW-Whitewater and Milwaukee Mortuary School. Dale served his apprenticeship with Gunderson Funeral Home in 1959 and became a licensed funeral director in 1964. For over 20 years, Dale co-owned funeral homes in Stoughton, McFarland and Deerfield, Wisconsin.  He has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 2001.

Dale is married to the former Marian Christenson of Stoughton.  He and Marian enjoy all sports, but especially Wisconsin football and basketball.

JEFF HRON

Licensed Funeral Director
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Jeff is a lifelong Madison area resident. He graduated from DeForest High School in 1990.  He continued his education, graduating from Madison Area Technical College in 1993, with an associate degree in marketing, and from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1996, with an associate degree in mortuary science. Jeff served his funeral service apprenticeship in Waukesha, Wisconsin and then joined Gunderson Funeral Home in November 1995.

Jeff has been an active member in the Monona Grove Optimist Club since 1999. He has served as club president and as a lieutenant governor for the Southern Wisconsin District. Jeff has been a lifelong member of Christ Lutheran Church in DeForest, where he has lived for many years.

He and his wife, Candi, have been married since 2000. Together they enjoy spending time with their three dogs, Bam Bam, Mr. Beanie and Pixie. Jeff likes camping, antique and collection cars, car shows, hiking and generally spending time outdoors.

“I love my job working as a funeral director because I feel I can be a helpful guide to families through some of the most difficult time in their life.”

JOHN JACOBSEN

Licensed Funeral Director
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Having grown up in a Lutheran Minister’s family, John lived in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  A graduate of Portage Sr. High, Dana College and Worsham College of Mortuary Science,  John has been a Funeral Director in Madison since 2005.  In his first career, John worked for over 20 years  in community based services for persons with disabilities both in Nebraska and Wisconsin.  John and Lois are active in their church’s music ministry and are active volunteers with The Road Home in Madison. They enjoy Door County, kayaking in the UP with close friends, Devil’s Lake, and all things Wisconsin.  Having raised twin sons, they now live with Molly the Jack Russell and Libby the cat.

MYKAL JENSEN

Licensed Funeral Director
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Mykal was born in Southern Oregon, but moved around quite a bit during her formative years. She spent most of her youth living in Pinedale, Wyoming and Gallup, New Mexico. These places exposed her to a diversity of cultures and people. She attended University of New Mexico where she studied Psychology. After a career change from a veterinary assistant, she came to the Midwest via Chicago and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 2016. Upon graduation, she quickly found a home in the beautiful city of Madison where she is an avid equestrian, bike rider, and all around adventure seeker. She enjoys attending church at Blackhawk and enjoying the many parks and lakes in the area. Mykal has found her calling in funeral service and enthusiastically greets every family with warmth and compassion to assist with what can be the most difficult time of their lives. 

MARK LINDER

Licensed Funeral Director
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Orginally from Nebraska, Mark joined our funeral home in 2011. Becoming a funeral director was a lifelong dream for Mark.

He spent 20 years in the insurance industry serving as an agency owner and manager of a branch agency. Mark attended the University of Nebraska and graduated from the Milwaukee Area TEchnical College Funeral Science Program with an Associate's Degree in Applied Science. He has served as a Funeral Director in Marshfield, as well as the Philadelphia area.

Mark and his wife, Helen, have two children, son, Mark II, and his wife Erin, and daughter, Jennifer. They are proud grandparents of Violet and Avalo. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, camping, traveling, sports and spending time with his grandchildren. Mark and his wife reside in Oregon.

STEVE MORRIS

Licensed Funeral Director
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Steve Morris grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he became a licensed funeral director first before moving here to become a licensed director in Wisconsin.  He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and served twice in Kuwait and Mogadishu, Somalia.  Steve is currently involved with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helping to make sure our Veterans receive their benefits. When not working and volunteering, Steve loves to spend time with his teenage daughter.  He also enjoys hunting, fishing, target shooting, and watching football, especially the Wolverines!  Steve loves the outdoors and watching documentaries, learning as much as he can.  He enjoys his job here at Gunderson’s and is honored to be able to care for our families and our community.  

SIERRA MELLO-MILES

Licensed Funeral Director
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Sierra is an Alaskan Native.  She joined the United States Army in 2001, was stationed in Germany and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom I & II.  Sierra earned her Bachelor of Science in Management and Masters in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix in Arizona.  Sierra earned her Associates in Funeral Service from Milwaukee Area Technical College.  Sierra loves spending time with her two young daughters; Serenity and Raina.  Sierra has fallen in love with Wisconsin’s culture, seasons and people.  “I’ve never lived or worked in a place where people care so much about one another.  Gunderson’s really exemplifies the Golden Rule towards both employees and the families served.”

MICHELLE RINEHART

Licensed Funeral Director
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Michelle was born and raised in Madison, and currently resides in her childhood home with her daughter, Samantha. She graduated from Madison East High School and went on to attend UW-Richland Center, majoring in sports medicine.  After her freshman year of college, Michelle’s grandfather died, which changed her career path. Michelle graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1993, with an associate degree in mortuary science. She worked for Ward Funeral Home in Edgerton/Evansville for two and a half years, and for Joyce Ryan Funeral Home before settling in at Gunderson Funeral Home in February of 1996.

Michelle enjoys playing volleyball, watching men’s college basketball and watching her daughter’s sporting events. She is also active with her church, St. Bernard Catholic Church, the Women’s Group and is very involved with Girl Scouts.

RACHEL WARTES

Licensed Funeral Director
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A recent Wisconsin transplant.  Rachel came to Madison by way of Chicago where she attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science.  Originally from Colorado, Rachel received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2010 from Metropolitan State University of Denver where she studied Sociology and Psychology.  She is an avid runner and enjoys hiking, biking and camping in her free time.  Rachel is thrilled to join the Gunderson team and call Madison home.

KASEY WILSON

Licensed Funeral Director
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Kasey grew up in Necedah, Wisconsin.  She is married with two girls, age 3 years and 3 months, who keep her very busy.  Kasey enjoys spending time with family, especially outdoors; going on picnics, trips to the zoo, spending time boating, fishing, and going to the beach and water parks.  She takes pride in listening to people and being able to help them through the toughest time in their life.  Kasey is honored to guide families through the process and be there for them every step of the way.

DANIELLE VAYRE

Licensed Funeral Director
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Danielle grew up in Michigan and is number 9 of 10 siblings. After high school, she moved to Arizona and received a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix. Danielle moved to Madison from Mexico City, Mexico after raising her 3 children.   She is bilingual and received her associate’s degree in Mortuary Science at MATC, Milwaukee. Her passions include cooking, family night dinners, and traveling with family and friends. Danielle is also active in softball and bowling leagues, and an American Legion Auxiliary Member in McFarland.

 

 

SAMANTHA ZOROMSKI

Licensed Funeral Director
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Samantha was born in Marshfield and raised in Wisconsin Rapids.  She graduated with the Class of 2007 from East Troy High School and attained her Associate’s Degree in Funeral Service from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2011.  During her apprenticeship she worked for Schremka-Borwardt Funeral Home in Milwaukee before moving in December of 2012, to Medford where she worked for Hemer Funeral Home.  She received her funeral directors license in October of 2013.  Samantha decided to move closer to her family in Madison and knew that Gunderson Funeral Homes were staffed with caring and professional individuals whose experience she could learn and grow from.  As a result, she became a part of the Gunderson family in March of 2017.  Samantha loves the Madison area and looks forward to becoming a part of the wonderful community.

RICHARD "RIC" VANDERHOEF

Certified Pre-Planning Consultant
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A life long Madison East Side/Cottage Grove resident, Ric came to Gunderson’s in the early 90's.  Beginning as a pre-need specialist,  Ric obtained The CPC (Certified Pre-Planning Consultant) designation from the National Funeral Directors Association with in a few years.  In his spare time Ric enjoys time with his family and fishing, while always having a home project underway.  

NICOLE PERRIN

Accountant
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Nicole Perrin has been with the Gunderson Funeral Home since 1998. She is originally from Wauwatosa. Nicole graduated from Edgewood College with her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. In her free time, Nicole enjoys reading, crafts and spending time with family & friends.

BRENDA LANG

Accounting Assistant
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Brenda was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin.  She worked over 30 years in the lumber industry before deciding to make a change and join Gunderson Funeral Homes in November of 2014. In her free time, Brenda enjoys reading and watching the Brewers, especially tailgating before games.  She also enjoys spending time with her family, especially her son.

DEDE SIMON-KESSENICH

Billing Specialist
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DeDe was raised in Martinsville, Wisconsin and graduated from Middleton High School and has lived in the Middleton area since 1976 with her husband, Dennis. Together they proudly raised three daughters. DeDe loves any activity that involves her family, enjoys traveling and attending sporting events.

When I came to Gunderson Funeral Home I knew it would be a perfect fit for me. To work with a group of people that are compassionate for the staff that works with them, and to see firsthand that each family Gunderson Funeral Home works with is handled with the upmost respect and provided with everything needed to get them through this devasting time.

DeDe comes to us with an extensive background in insurance, billing and customer service and is enjoying putting her experience to work here at Gunderson Funeral Home.

SARA PATON BARKENHAGEN

Stoughton Administrative Assistant
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Sara was born and raised in Stoughton.  For more than 30 years, her career has been as an administrative assistant in education.  Ready for a change, she was fortunate to be hired in a position where she is able to continue to interact with and help families. In her spare time, her favorite hobby is staying home.  Sara currently lives in Deerfield with her husband, Dennis Barkenhagen. She has three grown children, Luke Natvig; his wife Amanda; and their children, Sylas Natvig and Joe and Kendal Coleman all of Marshall, Peter Natvig of Stoughton, and Carly Natvig of Seattle, Washington.

BETTY DAUCK

Administrative Assistant
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After working for Gunderson Funeral Home for over 10 years, Betty thought that it was her time to retire. She soon realized how much she missed greeting the public and helping families in difficult times and returned working part time at the Gunderson West location.

CHRISTINE DROESSLER

Administrative Assistant
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Christine was born in Madison and raised in Stoughton.  She graduated from Stoughton High School.  Go Vikings!  She worked in the retail and service industry before joining the Administrative team at Gunderson’s.  Christine’s hobbies include movies, TV shows and books of the comedic variety, as well as improvised sketch theatre.  She enjoys the water and any chance to be in the sun or shade. Christine is very interested in food, especially Indian and pasta recipes.  She loves any and all dogs and music, especially Fleetwood Mac. 

KIRSTEN GUNDERSON

Administrative Assistant
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Kirsten grew up in Middleton, graduating from Middleton High School in 2012. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Biology. Upon graduation in December 2014, Kirsten looks forward to medical school and pursuing her career in the medical field. Kirsten is passionate about helping others and is involved with a number of organizations on the UW campus. She enjoys volunteering with Agrace HospiceCare and coaching with the Middleton girls’ varsity soccer team. In her spare time, Kirsten enjoys hiking, horseback riding, playing soccer and spending time with family.

 

LAUREN GUNDERSON

Administrative Assistant
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Lauren grew up in Middleton, graduating from Middleton High School in 2008.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Consumer Affairs along with a Certificate in Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, while competing as a student-athlete on the women's soccer team.  Upon graduation, Lauren moved to London, England to work for more than a year before returning home to become involved in the family business.  In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time outdoors, playing soccer, traveling, and baking.

 

LISA KREBS

Administrative Assistant
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Lisa was born in Minnesota and currently lives in Sun Prairie. She recently received her associate’s degree in Business Management at Madison Area Technical College. Previous to being hired at Gunderson Funeral Home, Lisa worked at UW Hospital for 5 ½ years. She is thrilled to be able to work in a position where she is able to utilize her skills and knowledge, along with remaining in an environment where care and compassion is a big part of the job. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys cooking, reading, working out and spending time with her cat, boyfriend, friends and family.

JANELLE LAFROMBOIS

Fitchburg Administrative Assistant
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Janelle grew up in Brooklyn, WI and graduated from Oregon High School in 1987.  She continued her education graduating from MATC in 1990 with an Associate’s Degree in Dietetics and from the UW-Madison in 1999 with a B.S. in Rehabilitation Psychology.  Before joining Gunderson, Janelle worked for 24 years at the Edgerton Care Center serving the residents as a Dietetic Technician Registered.  She is married to Dan and they reside in Stoughton with their 2 children, Zach and Brynn.  Janelle loves spending time with her family and friends.

JOAN LAUFENBERG

Middleton Office Manager
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Joan has been with the Gunderson Funeral Home since 1999, working in the Middleton location in a support role for the funeral directors. She says that customer service, care and compassion are important to her, and working at Gunderson Funeral Home gives her the opportunity to use these skills, along with family core values, to help families in their time of need.

TANYA (DUPOR) RUEF

Administrative Assistant
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Tanya grew up in McFarland graduating from McFarland High School in 2006. Tanya has been working with Gunderson Funeral Home since May 2008. She is the fourth member of the Dupor family to work at Gunderson Funeral Home.

Tanya and her husband, Mike, reside in Sun Prairie with their dog, Memphis and two cats. During their free time, they love spending the summer weekends at the family camper in Milton and going to the movies. Tanya also enjoys running in local 5k races with her grandfather (who sadly she has yet to beat), attempting beginner's quilting projects, gardening, and golfing with her family and friends.

PATTY SEILER

Lodi Office Manager and Funeral Assistant
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Patty started working for Gunderson Funeral Home in March of 2012 after retiring from the Veterans Administration Hospital with almost 35 years of service. She works as a family service assistant and adminstrative assistant to the funeral director.

Patty is a life-long resident of Lodi and has two children, Becky and Garret. She loves spending time with her family, especially her grandson, Ty. Patty can be seen everyday in Lodi being walked by her two German Shepherds, Chubbs and Dixie.

DEBBIE STUDT

Administrative Assistant
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Debbie was born and raised in Monroe, WI. She moved to Madison in 2000 and spent most of her career in the building business. After losing her father to cancer in 1999, Debbie realized what comfort it was to have HospiceCare walk her and her family through the end stages of his life. It was shortly thereafter that she became an inpatient Hospice volunteer and most recently a vigil volunteer. It was through her volunteering that lead her to a position with Gunderson Funeral  Home. Debbie is proud to be part of a team who is dedicated to compassionately serving families in need with integrity and respect. Each day her life is touched by someone else’s sadness.  Debbie feels the deepest experiences of life are impacted by those around us that guide us through them.  She truly believes pain does not always have to be private. 

KAREN THOMPSON

Administrative Assistant
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Karen is a lifelong resident of the Madison area. She graduated from La Follette High School and attended MATC in Madison.  Karen has a wonderful daughter, Kaitlin, and a beautiful granddaughter, Chesney, who is also Karen's baking assistant!  She loves being a mom and grandma and thinks it’s the most wonderful experience! Karen is an avid fan of the Badgers, Packers and Brewers, but has a fondness for Badger Basketball.

Since the age of 16, Karen has worked in the service industry, wearing many hats over the years. She had always wanted to work in the funeral industry, drawn to it by personal loss and grief.   Karen strives to serve and help families through their difficult time by assisting them in having a loving and memorable experience.

 “I find my position very rewarding. It is an honor to be a part of the Gunderson Funeral Home family”.

ALYSSA HALVERSON

Funeral Director Apprentice
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Alyssa was born and raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  She graduated from Stoughton High School in 2014.  Alyssa enjoys hot weather, spending time with family and friends, and her dog, Lacy. 

KAITLYNN LENOIR

Funeral Director Apprentice
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Kaitlynn was born in Elgin, Illinois and raised in Rockford, Illinois.  She graduated from Guilford High School in Rockford.  After high school she attended Rockford University and earned a degree in Biology.  In 2016, she graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science.  Kaitlynn worked for Sundberg Funeral Home in Rockford, Illinois.  She decided to come to work for Gunderson Funeral Homes because she felt it would allow her the best experience possible while learning every aspect of the funeral business.

In her spare time, Kaitlynn enjoys being lazy with her husband, Jordan and playing with her cat, Pepper and dog, Fred.

CASSIDY OLSON

Funeral Director Apprentice
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Cassidy grew up in Orfordville, Wisconsin and graduated from Parkview High School.  She worked for Gander Mountain for the past five years and really enjoyed helping out at their family funeral home.  Cassidy decided to join Gunderson’s as an apprentice to expand her knowledge of the business.  She is excited to learn and grow with Gunderson’s.  Cassidy enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, watching shows on Netflix, and spending time with her boyfriend and puppy, Jager.

SAMANTHA RINEHART

Funeral Director Apprentice
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Samantha is a 2009 graduate of Madison East High School. After high school she went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she earned her bachelor’s degree in social work. Despite being in her 20’s, Samantha enjoys reading, crocheting, and playing bingo in her free time. She also enjoys playing volleyball and going on motorcycle rides. 

DEAN "DON" DENSON

Funeral Service Associate
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Don is a lifelong resident of Middleton. After working in the concrete business for 45 years, he retired in 1997. Don joined Gunderson Funeral Home in 2005, and says that he enjoys working with people and helping families in any way that he can.

GREG DAHMEN

Funeral Service Associate
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Greg has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 1990. After working in the retail management field for his entire career, Greg says that he was happy to use his customer services skills in such an rewarding way. “Meeting and assisting the many wonderful families has been a privilege and I look forward to continuing to be there in their time of need.”

JAMES "JIM" GREEN

Funeral Service Associate
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Jim, a lifelong Madisonian, resides in Fitchburg with his wife, Suzanne.  They have an adult daughter that also lives in the area.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, Jim has owned and operated three different businesses in the consumer products industry.  In his retirement he continues to participate in various sporting activities, in addition to being a fan of all major sports.

Jim takes great pride in being a part of the Gunderson team; a group of caring professionals dedicated to addressing the needs of families in difficult times.

HERBERT GUNDLACH

Funeral Service Associate
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Herb is originally from Oregon, Wisconsin. He was drafted into the Army in 1955. Herb returned home, and played in a dance band for 43 years. He currently resides in Fitchburg with his wife. They are members at Holy Mother of Consolation Catholic Church, where he has played the organ and been a member since 1946.

Herb says that he has always had an interest in the funeral business since he retired from a repair and maintenance business in 1993. He has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 1993.

MATT GUNDERSON

Funeral Service Associate
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JOE KELLERMAN

Funeral Service Associate
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Joe is originally from Watertown , Wisconsin . He attended St. Lawrence Seminary, Watertown High School and earned a graphic arts degree from Madison College . Before joining Gunderson Funeral Home, he worked 49 years at Webcrafters Printing Company as an IT manager.

Before moving to Madison , Joe and his wife, Joan, lived in McFarland where they raised four children.  Joe is a member of Christ the King Catholic Church in McFarland were he served on the finance committee, was a member of the Men’s Club, taught religious education and volunteered at Luke House. He was on the board of directors of the Madison Jaycees, was the charter president of the McFarland Jaycees, and was the past presidents of the McFarland Music Boosters and the Blackhawk Home Owners Association.  He delivered meals for Meals on Wheels for many years and served as a volunteer for United Way.

In his free time Joe enjoys spending time with his 10 grandchildren, watching their sporting events, music performances and drama productions.  He is an avid Badger basketball fan, a Packer fan and a Brewers fan.

Joe feels very fortunate to work with a team of dedicated caring individuals committed to helping families at a very difficult time in their lives.

BOB KLEINSCHMIDT

Funeral Service Associate
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Bob grew up in Wauwatosa and moved to Middleton in 1997.  He retired in 2014 after more than 30 years in the financial service industry.  Bob missed the personal contact with clients and so jumped at the chance to be of service at Gunderson Funeral Homes.  He has been married to Becky for 37 years and has raised two sons. He also has two grandsons to be proud of.

When Bob is not helping families at Gundersons, he enjoys spending time with family, watching University of Wisconsin and Green Bay sports, flying RC airplanes, and working on genealogy.

SARAH KUKEC

Funeral Service Associate
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Sarah was born and raised in the Chicagoland area, but has also called Washington, D.C. and Japan home.  She graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs and East Asian Studies.  Sarah later graduated magna cum laude from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL. 

 

Prior to entering funeral service, Sarah taught English in elementary schools in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.  She considers Hagi and Tokyo her second home and goes back to visit whenever she can. 

 

In her free time, Sarah loves to travel, read, play the flute and shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese lute), and study Japanese.  Sarah also loves horror movies and anything to do with Abraham Lincoln.

JEFFREY MERGEN

Funeral Service Associate
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Jeffrey Mergen was born and raised in Platteville, Wisconsin.  He graduated from University of Wisconsin-Platteville in Radio/TV Broadcasting (Communications).  Jeffrey worked as a television/sports announcer and as a greyhound racetrack staff announcer for several dog parks in Iowa and Wisconsin.  He was known as “The Voice of Wisconsin Greyhound Racing”, having called over 60,000 races.  Jeffrey was looking for a career change, and since having grown up around and working in the funeral service with his Dad, he contacted Gunderson’s. “I will forever be very, very grateful to the Gunderson family for giving me this chance.  I feel as though I have a new family here. Working together as a team to help other families, is a wonderful, rewarding feeling.” On his off time, Jeffrey enjoys golfing, walking/jogging, thrift shopping and announcing.

RICHARD E. "DICK" PETERSON

Funeral Service Associate
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Dick Peterson was born on September 22nd  in Viroqua, WI.  He was a member of the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  Dick received his Funeral Director’s license on January 1, 1963.  He joined the staff at Gunderson Funeral & Cremation Centers in the Spring of 1976.

Some organizations, memberships and activities Dick is involved with include a 45 year member and past Grand Knight of KC Council #4586; 40 year Honorary Life Member of the Bishop Wm. P. O’Connor 4th Degree Assembly Knights of Columbus; 41 year Life Member of the Madison Elks Lodge No. 410; 33 year member of the East Madison/Monona Optimist Club, and currently serving as their President for the year 2008-2009.

RICHARD "DICK" RINEHART

Funeral Service Associate
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Dick moved to Madison after graduating high school in 1965.  He and his wife, Jan, have been married for over 40 years. Together they have a daughter, Michelle, and a granddaughter, Samantha. Dick spent 36 years with the Madison Police Department, retiring in 2001. He worked as a cadet officer, police officer, sergeant and lieutenant. Dick had the opportunity to work a patrol beat, work in communications, special operations, and served as a district lieutenant for both the Central and North Police Districts. During his years as a lieutenant, he also coordinated the field training of all police recruit officers.

Dick has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1997. He has served two terms as grand knight of Council 9082.  Dick has also served as faithful navigator for Bishop O’Connor 4th Degree Assembly 1200, and recently served three years as district deputy for the five Madison Knights of Columbus Councils. He is a past president of the Board of Directors for the ATTIC Correctional Facility on Madison’s east side, and is a former big brother with Big Brother Big Sisters of Dane County. Dick is a current member of Saint Bernard Catholic Church and is active in numerous parish ministries and events. He has been a staff member since 2001, serving as the director of volunteers.

Dick finds his work at Gunderson Funeral Home very rewarding. He says that he has found several similarities to his career in police work, allowing him to continue to offer help, compassion and comfort to individuals and families during a difficult time.

PETE THORPE

Funeral Service Associate
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Pete grew up on the east side of Madison and Monona, graduating from Monona Grove High School in 1964. He and his wife, JoAnn have been married for 46 years and have three daughters and nine grandchildren all in the area.

He worked for the City of Monona as a Police Officer for 31 years, with the last 16 years in the investigative division where he attained the rank of Lieutenant, retiring in 2000. Pete then worked in the Dane County Coroners Office for 10 years, before coming to work for Gundersons.

Having worked in law enforcement and the Coroners Office taught him to be able to deal with people in crisis situations and with grieving the death of someone close to them.

ZANE TORGRUDE

Funeral Service Associate
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Zane Torgrude was in the Financial Services industry for over 30 years as a trainer, Regional V.P. and Financial Planner.  He most currently was a Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor with BMO Harris Financial Advisors and retired March 31, 2016.  

Prior to the Financial Services industry, Zane served for 11 years as a Lutheran pastor and specialized in human services as a speaker, counselor, manager, and fund raiser.

Zane earned his B.A. from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1966 and obtained a Masters in Theology from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN in 1970.  Zane also achieved his Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations from the American College in Bryn Mare, Pennsylvania in 1988. 

Zane is married to Susan and is the proud parent of two daughters and has five grandchildren.  One of his grandsons, Noah, was born with Down Syndrome.  It is because of Noah that Zane, serving as Board President, led a group to bring a GiGis Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center to Madison, WI which opened in May 2016.

Zane is now honored to be part of the team at Gunderson Funeral Homes where he assists in providing a culture where families and individuals can celebrate the life of a lost loved one.

TOM ULLSVIK

Funeral Service Associate
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Growing-up on Madison's Eastside, Tom worked at his family's Scandinavian market while attending East High School and UW-Madison. A Viet Nam vet, Tom returned to Madison and a banking career lasting 40 years. Long-time members of Bethel Lutheran Church, Tom and his wife Sue live in Middleton where they raised a son and two daughters and now are delighted to have seven grandchildren, all in this area. Tom joined Gunderson Funeral Homes in September of 2011 and has been honored to serve many families, some of which he has known for decades.

JIM STOKER

Certified Crematory Specialist
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Jim grew up in Monona Wisconsin.  He was an auto mechanic for 32 years and then worked at Highland Memory Gardens for 8 years prior to joining Gunderson.  His work as a mechanic built in him a very strong work ethic and a positive mental attitude.  Jim and his wife, Leanne love to take their boat out onto Lake Mendota and let the world go by.  He enjoys the outdoors; hunting and fishing, and watching his grandkids do anything.  

PAUL SELBO

Certified Crematory Specialist and Funeral Service Associate
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Paul has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 2003. He is a graduate of Stoughton High School and UW-LaCrosse. Paul is a member of Stoughton Village Players, the Honorary “S” Club, Christ Lutheran Church, Stoughton Festival Choir and the Stoughton Hall of fame Committee.

Paul and his wife, Sue, have two sons, Dan and Tom. He enjoys running, golf, motorcycling, theater and small town festivals.

KEN BERG

Vital Statistics Coordinator
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Ken is from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He is a 1960 graduate of La Crosse Central High School. Ken served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1963. He graduated from Madison Business College in 1966. Ken enjoys fishing, card playing, and is a fan of the Packers and the Badgers. He is a member of McFarland Lutheran Church. Ken and his wife, Jane have three children and six grandchildren.

Ken has served as the vital statistics coordinator at Gunderson Funeral Home since 1998. He says, “It is a honor to work with great staff that share the same feelings in serving families, to work together towards a common goal.”

LINDA COLLETTI

Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist
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Linda is an aftercare specialist who seeks to comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Drawing from personal experiences and those of others, she has a deep understanding of the challenges of grief.  Linda has been a grief counselor for over 20 years, and believes we all have the resiliency and wisdom to find our way on the journey.

Linda resides in Belleville with her husband, Wayne, and a very cute and spoiled Cocker Spaniel. She has two grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and a step daughter. Linda loves being a grandma to three year old Evan. She says, “If I would have known being a grandma was so much fun, I would have done that first!”

KATE FORD ROBERTS

Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist
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Kate has been with Gunderson Funeral Home since 1991. She is the co-founder of the Center for Life and Loss Integration at San Damiano, a grief-counseling center in Madison. She was involved in starting the University Hospital and Clinics Palliative Care Program in 1999. Her education has also earned her End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) certification, and is certified in Hospice and Palliative and Nursing (CHPN). She has a bachelor's degree in nursing and a master's degree in psychology-palliative care and bereavement.

JUDY KOEPPL

Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist
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Judy has been a grief counselor and aftercare specialist at Gunderson Funeral Home since 1990. Prior to joining Gunderson Funeral Home, Judy developed the bereavement program at HospiceCare, Inc. of Madison and served as the program director for numerous years. Judy is the co-founder and director of the Center for Life and Loss Integration at San Damiano, a grief-counseling center in Madison.

Judy feels it is a great privilege to work with and support individuals and families as they go through difficult times in their lives.  She is a member of the Academy of Credentialed Social Workers and is a certified thanantologist. Judy also holds a master's degree in social work, and is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She is a Red Cross volunteer in the Disaster Mental Health field and was able to work with the Red Cross to help surviving family members of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Judy loves the outdoors, and among some of the more active trips she and her husband and family have taken, she has especially enjoyed backpack canoe trips in Quetico, hiking in the Grand Canyon, and sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands. Other less active pursuits include travel, a love of books, and spending time with family and friends.

STEVE ZWETTLER

Grief Counselor and Aftercare Specialist
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Steve was born and raised in Madison.  He graduated from Holy Name Seminary High School in Madison, college from St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, and graduate school from St. Francis School of Pastoral Ministry in Milwaukee with independent studies in Theology from Marquette University School of Theology. Steve worked as a high school teacher, pastor, spiritual director, retreat speaker, high school teacher, Pastor, Chaplain at Meriter Hospital, Director of Mission Effectiveness for St. Coletta in Jefferson, and Chaplain for Agrace HospiceCare in Madison. 

 

Steve has worked with Gunderson often over the past 10 years, providing funeral services for hospice patients.  He developed a great respect for Gunderson staff members and the compassionate way in which they cared for their families.  After retiring from Agrace HospiceCare, it was a natural fit for him to team with Gunderson Funeral Home as a member of their Aftercare team, and also in planning for and presiding at funeral services for families.  Steve is grateful to Gunderson for the opportunity to work together in caring for families at such an important time. 

 

Outside of work, Steve enjoys gardening, reading, biking, golfing, volunteering, traveling, Wisconsin football and basketball, and having dinner around the fireplace with his wife, Barbara and their friends.

SHARON AMBROSE

Beautician
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Sharon is from Madison, Wisconsin. She graduated From LaFollette High School, and earned her degree at Madison Area Technical College in cosmetology in 1967.  Sharon worked and managed a salon in Madison for 16 years.  She then worked with the elderly in a salon at a nursing home for over 14 years. Sharon now has a salon in Madison for the last several years. She started working at Gunderson Funeral Home while working at the nursing home. Families would ask her to do their loved ones hair after passing. They felt more comfortable with someone that was familiar with them.  Sharon says she feels that she can best serve the families and their loved ones by making a pleasant lasting memory for the family.

JOY GUNDERSON

Hair Designer
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Joy Gunderson was born and raised in Madison.  She currently resides in Stoughton with her husband Jeff and their two boys, Zander and Skyler.  As a hair designer, Joy owned and operated her own business for over 20 years, mainly within Monona.  She takes pride in her job and receives a real sense of satisfaction; whether it's working on her own clients, or those at the Gunderson Funeral Home.

CLARENCE "BOB" BYRNE

Facility Maintenance
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Bob Byrne farmed all his life, until 2002.  He is now retired from farming and currently takes care of the lawn work and flowers at Gunderson Funeral Home.  He also enjoys traveling.

JOHN SIMON

Facility Maintenance
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John was raised in Martinsville and comes from a family of seven sisters and four brothers. He graduated from Middleton High School and then started working for Feiner Furniture. He worked for Feiner for 38 years, learning numerous skills that includes, but not limited to, furniture repair, floor coving installation and repair and general maintence. He joined Gunderson Funeral Home in March of 2012

John lives in Cross Plains with his wife Katie. Together they raised three children, that were very active in sports. Lots of time was spent at the ball fields! For many years John coached and for the past five years he has been the business manager for the Cross Plains Home Talent Baseball Team.