Verna Carlsen

Verna Carlsen

Verna Carlsen, age 86, of Mankato, Minn., died on Wednesday, April 01, 2020 at Cottagewood Senior Community in Mankato.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, private family graveside services will be held at Forest Hill Cemetery in International Falls, Minn., on Monday, April 6, 2020.

You may send the family condolences online at

Arrangements are with Sturm Funeral Home in St. James.

Verna Gertrude Bird was born Dec. 10, 1933 in Roseau, Minn., to Glen and Gunda (Haukom) Bird. Verna graduated from Roseau High School in 1952. She continued her education by attending nursing school in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. As a young woman, Verna left Minnesota for California.

She was united in marriage to James R. Carlsen in 1957 at Berkeley, California. In 1959 the couple returned to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. They were the parents of three ornery sons, James, Michael, and Douglas. Verna worked as a nurse at several hospitals in the Twin Cities area. In the early 1970’s, she and Jim established North Star Ambulance service in the Twin Cities.

In 1973, Verna and Jim were recruited to Milbank, S.D., and established Grant County Ambulance. They provided contracted emergency services to several communities in northeast South Dakota for many years.

After selling the business, Verna continued to work as a critical care nurse for local hospitals and as a staff nurse at St. Williams Home in Milbank for several years. In the late 1980’s Jim and Verna moved to Sturgis, S.D. Jim passed away on March 4, 2004. As a nurse, Verna enjoyed reading medical journals and also enjoyed cleaning, and more cleaning.

Verna and Jim were very proud that all three of their sons graduated from high school and attended college. All three son’s selected the career of mortuary science. For Verna and Jim , their legacy, was their sons. For many years, the Carlsen boys have operated funeral homes and cared for countless families in rural communities of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa; something that made Verna very proud.

Survivors include three sons, Jim and Eyvonne Carlsen of Mankato, Minn., Mike and Lisa Carlsen of Aberdeen, S.D., and Doug and Karen Carlsen of Le Mars, Iowa; 7 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Survivors also include a brother, Irving and Frances Bird of Bullhead City, Ariz.; a sister, Beverly and Mike Fangel of Champlain, Minn.; and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and two brothers, Ronnie and Richard “Dick” Bird.

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