FAIRMONT– Tonya Mortensen has been named a recipient of ‘4 Under 40,’ a program which recognizes up and coming leaders in Martin County. Mortensen is part of the third round of honorees in the program.
Mortensen grew up locally on a farm near East Chain and after graduating from Granada-Huntley-East Chain School, she went to the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities to study mortuary science. Mortensen said she had job shadowed at Lakeview Funeral Home in Fairmont when she was a high school student after her mother told her she should look into being a funeral director.
“I remember Googling it and I thought it sounded neat so that’s how I got into it,” Mortensen said.
After graduating college, Mortensen did an internship at LaCanne Funeral Home in Windom. She stayed there for several years, until 2017, when she and Chris Toomer bought Lakeview Funeral Home from Daron Johnson.
Mortensen explained that while studying mortuary science in school, she knew all along that she would want to move back closer to home to be near family.
“I always wanted to be able to serve people that I knew closely growing up and be there for them in their time of need. I feel like it’s an honor for me to be there for them and for them to choose us,” Mortensen said.
She also said that while it’s becoming more common, there haven’t been many female funeral directors so it has been beneficial to be near family and friends to help watch her daughter, Brynlee. Being close to her support system also helped when Mortensen’s husband, Ryan, passed away unexpectedly in 2015.
As a funeral director and co-owner of the business, Mortensen is pretty much on call all the time because the nature of the business calls for it. However, she is involved in what she can be outside of work.
“I help coach basketball for 5th grade and I’m the vice president of the Girls Basketball Association,” Mortensen said.
Her daughter is also in the East Chain 4-H club so Mortensen is involved in volunteering with that group. They’re also a member of Bethel Evangelical Free Church.
Several months ago, Mortensen started a local chapter of Modern Widows Club, which already draws in nearly 100 women from the region. It is one of just three Modern Widows Club in the state of Minnesota.
For that, Mortensen plans and leads monthly meetings, as well as puts on a few fun events for the members, too.
“I hope the ladies see value in it,” Mortensen said.
As local business owners, Mortensen and Toomer sponsor and support a number of local organizations and events.
“We try to give back and donate. It’s a big part of what we want to do in our business,” Mortensen said.
Mortensen was nominated for ‘4 Under 40’ by Patty Monsen and upon hearing the news she had been selected, said she was shocked.
“I feel like there’s other people who deserve it more than me, but I was very honored,” Mortensen said.
When it comes down to it, Mortensen wants to give back and support people through her role as a funeral director, position in Modern Widows Club and involvement in the community.
“It’s rewarding to be there for people and help them when they need it,” Mortensen said.
The recognition event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on March 14 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fairmont. At that time Mortensen, along with Brittany Anderson, Betsy Tino and Matt Lange will be recognized. Tickets can be found, along with more information, at twinvalleybsa.org/4under40.