Cover photo for Donald  Eshelman's Obituary
Donald  Eshelman Profile Photo

Donald Eshelman

August 29, 1926 — May 7, 2024

Donald Eshelman

Donald Eshelman, age 97, passed away peacefully on May 7th, 2024.

Don’s journey through life began in Kewanee, Illinois, on August 29, 1926. He was born at home, the 6th child of James and Mary Eshelman. In addition to his parents, six brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends surrounded him with love as he grew up. Lack of financial resources was no hindrance to their imagination, and he loved to tell stories of acting in school plays, singing at church, and getting into mischief such as jumping off the roof.

His junior year in high school, the family moved to Minneapolis, where he quickly made friends at Fourth Baptist Church and Patrick Henry High School. A natural athlete, he tried different sports but especially loved track. Music was also an important part of his life. He played the sousaphone in band and had a beautiful baritone voice. After high school, he sang in an octet with two of his sisters, traveling the state and performing regularly on the radio.

Roller skating at the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park was another favorite pastime. It was there that he met his future wife in the summer of 1948. The following year on July 2, he married Dagny LaVonne Engedal. Their marriage was a bit daring back in 1949 because he was Baptist, and she was Lutheran! He solved that issue by becoming a Lutheran, but always treasured his Baptist roots and never did learn to drink coffee!

They had three children, Jacquelyn, David and Bruce. As a dad, he was always involved in his children’s lives. He coached baseball, drove to music lessons, church, and school activities. He would make up stories, tell jokes and teach by example. Evenings when he was not working, he would always lead devotions with the family. When working on cars or doing home repairs, he would patiently let his sons “help” from a very young age. On more than one occasion, they were overhead proudly declaring, “My dad can fix anything!”

Don’s first full-time job was for Northrup King where he had a variety of duties. In 1950, he was hired by Northwest Airlines to clean, load and fuel the aircraft. He gradually took classes and became a mechanic, which was right up his alley as he loved working with his hands. Working for the airline also afforded the family the opportunity to travel. During his 39 years at Northwest/Delta, he made lifelong friends and also gained a brother-in-law when he introduced his friend and co-worker Floyd to his wife’s sister, Fran.

After his retirement, he and LaVonne travelled extensively. Some of the countries they visited included Italy, Greece, Israel, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Korea. A rare privilege was escorting two of their grandsons from Korea to the US for their adoption into the family. During the winters, they would take their camper to Florida for several weeks, always staying at the same campground and enlarging their circle of friends. During the summers they would again set out in their camper for one of the national parks, Yellowstone being a favorite. Their last trip to Yellowstone was in 2016. They were turning 89 and 90!

In addition to his devotion to his family, faith in Christ was his guide for living. His faith was clearly evident in how he lived his everyday life. Everywhere he went he made friends by being a friend. He was always ready to help where needed without being asked. His wonderful sense of humor was with him until the end. He was a kind and gentle man who saw his God given purpose as lifting up and serving others so they could see Christ’s love through him.

Don was preceded in death by his wife, Dagny; son, David Eshelman; grandson, Michael Madison; great granddaughters, Charlotte and Elsie Eshelman; great granddaughter, Lydia Eshelman.

Don is survived by his children, Jacquelyn (James) Madison; Bruce (Paula Shipstad) Eshelman; Daughter-in-law, Cindy Eshelman; Grandchildren, Shannon (John Bader) Madison, Daniel Madison, Dustin (Sarath) Madison; Joel (Jasmine Fitterer) Eshelman, Jeremy (Karla) Eshelman, Jared (Samantha) Eshelman; James (Dayna Erenberg) Eshelman, Anne Mueller, William (Katie) Eshelman; Great grandchildren, Ava and Delaney Mundt, Zoe and Wesley Bader; Seth Phe, Ladainian Sanford; Phoenix Fitterer Eshelman; Emmett, Owen and Archer Eshelman; Emma and Kate Mueller; Olivia, Liam and Luke Eshelman.

A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, May 23rd at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church, 15600 Old Rockford Road, Plymouth, MN 55446.

Visitation will be at 10 AM, service at 11 AM followed by lunch in the fellowship hall. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the family or St. Barnabas for Luther Park Bible Camp.

For those unable to attend, the service will be livestreamed on

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Eshelman, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Thursday, May 23, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Celebration of Life

Thursday, May 23, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

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