Dale Luther Mundahl, formerly of Rochester, Minn., passed away peacefully in Mequon, Wis., on March 12, 2023, at the age of 80.
He was born on April 1, 1942, in Rushford, Minn., to the late Oscar and Evelyn Mundahl. His family later moved to Rochester, MN, where Dale graduated from John Marshall High School in 1960. Subsequently, he graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with a degree in education in 1964.
Dale moved back to Rochester after graduation and became a Spanish teacher at Kellogg Junior High School. He often joked that he was the only Spanish teacher who had a Norwegian accent.
In October of 1965, a young nurse named Helen Tofte needed a ride to Decorah, IA from her internship in Rochester. Dale offered her a ride and the two connected immediately marking the beginning of a beautiful love story. Dale and Helen were later married on August 27, 1966, at First Lutheran Church in Decorah.
Dale went on to earn his master’s degree and became a guidance counselor, first at Kellogg and then at John Adams Junior High School. He always had a big smile on his face walking the halls of each school and was quick to provide support for those who needed it. He also made many close friends with teachers and administrators throughout the Rochester Public School system. Dale ultimately retired in 1999 after 35 years of service.
Dale loved making music. He began piano lessons at the age of seven. He would later learn to play the organ under the tutelage of Dean Robinson, the carillonneur at Mayo Clinic, and he eventually became the organist at Zumbro Lutheran Church during his senior year of high school. He continued his organ lessons at Luther and eventually was hired by the college for daily chapel and Sunday services during his junior and senior years.
He was recruited to be the organist at Bethel Lutheran Church in 1964 where he remained for 46 years. He became lifelong friends with many of the wonderful pastors there and it was apparent to them and others that he spoke from his soul through music. He sang every word of every verse of beloved hymns in his rich baritone voice. He would also lead sing-alongs at events with family and friends with his signature song sheets for anyone who needed them.
Dale was not just invested in the music of worship, he was invested in the people he met at Bethel and throughout the Rochester community. His outstanding personality traits were warmth and friendliness; he was gregarious in the best sense of the word. He gave encouragement to those who were grieving or troubled and rejoiced with those who experienced success in their lives.
While Dale’s accomplishments were many, it was his role as both dad and later papa and grandpa that brought him real joy. He was a beloved presence in the lives of Anja and Annika Mundahl and Eleanor, Annie, and Will Larsen. He enjoyed the chance to watch them grow and develop into amazing young people. They loved him immensely, and his spirit lives on in the hearts of each of them.
Dale is survived by son Erik (Mary) Mundahl of Woodbury, Minn., daughter Emily (Andrew) Larsen of Mequon, Wis., five grandchildren, one sister Carolyn (Robert) Fisher of Eagan, Minn., one aunt, Arlene Holtegaard of Lanesboro, Minn. and many special cousins, nephews, and nieces. He was preceded in death by his cherished wife, Helen Tofte Mundahl and parents, Oscar and Evelyn Mundahl of Rochester, Minn.
A special thank you to his extended family, Bethel Lutheran Church members, the Luther College Pi Sig community and many close friends who supported Dale with daily phone calls, thoughtful cards, community updates, dinners out and more.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at Bethel Lutheran Church, 810 3rd Ave SE, Rochester, Minn. 55904, on Monday, April 3, 2023, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home, 5421 Royal Pl NW, Rochester, Minn 55901 from 4-7 p.m., and one hour prior to the service at Bethel Lutheran Church. Private family inurnment will be held at Bethel Lutheran Columbarium in Rochester.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Dale’s memory to Bethel Lutheran Church or Luther College.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Mundahl family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.
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