David Kjerland

David Kjerland, age 65 of Northfield, stained glass artist and owner of Kjerland Studio, passed away Monday, October 15, 2007 at his home.

David Harold Kjerland was born on October 15, 1942 in Mason City, Iowa, the second of six children of Bernice Regina (Twito) Kjerland and Harold Winfred Kjerland. He died on October 15, 2007 in his home of a sudden and massive heart attack. David was raised in Mason City until the family moved to Owatonna, Minnesota in 1957. He graduated from Owatonna High School in 1961. David received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St. Olaf College in 1965. He studied at Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul for four years ending in 1969 before deciding to become a stained glass artist. David received training in stained glass during a two-year apprenticeship, study, and work program at a Minneapolis studio founded in 1919 to complete the windows of St. Mary’s Basilica. After completing his training, David Kjerland founded his own studio in Northfield, Minnesota in 1972, which continues to be active today.

David married Tonya Thesing in 1997 in Northfield, Minnesota. Tonya started working with David as designer for the studio in 1994. The windows they created together and those made solely by David or with other designers grace homes, businesses, churches, and institutions across country.

David participated in numerous programs while in college aimed at community and youth development that shaped a lifelong commitment to social justice. During the mid-1960’s, David worked with inner city youth in Newark, New Jersey, and in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the summer of 1965 he volunteered in literacy and voter registration program sponsored by Tuskegee Institute and taught schoolchildren in rural Lowndes County, Alabama. He wrote about these experiences in an unpublished manuscript. David loved literature, a passion he shared generously with many people.

David is survived by his wife and two children, Cayenne and Nicholas, as well as his brother Dean Kjerland of Northfield, sisters Eileen Graham of Seattle, Nancy Solberg of Apple Valley, and Linda Kjerland of West St. Paul. He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Ross.

His family invites friends and neighbors to join in mourning his death and celebrating his life on Saturday, October 20 at First United Church of Christ (Congregational), 300 Union Street, Northfield, Minnesota. Visitation will be from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Memorial Service at 4:00 p.m., with a Reception to follow. Private interment. Memorials to the David Kjerland Family Memorial Fund which has been established at the First National Bank in Northfield. Arrangements with the Bierman Funeral Home of Northfield.

(Addendum: Those of you interested in David's work with St. Olaf can view this WCCO story and video from last year: Alum Restoring 100 Year Old Skylight.)

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David Kjerland

David will be missed in our community. He was such a devoted dad to his two children. We will miss you.

Kjerland Stained Glass Studio

There are many beautiful images of the work of David and Tonya on the studio website kjerlandstudio.com.

Our friend David

Love and peace to all who were fortunate enough to have known David. He left behind so much beauty...not just in the windows he created, but in the joy of the memories I have of him. He always seemed to know some secret...the way he would giggle in the middle of his sentences...Watching the video clip of him when he was interviewed for 'cco helped me by letting me hear his voice and laughter one more time.

Love you, David! Give our love to Don and Joyce when you see them.

David was always there,

David was always there, supporting any artistic endeavor that was happening in Northfield - he was always there, quietly cheering us on. Now he is gone and our community has lost a part of its soul. We will miss his humor, his political rants, his appreciation of beauty, and his inner strength that allowed him to continue to live the difficult life of an artist.

I am in shock that David

I am in shock that David passed away this week. He was so full of life that I never imagined him not being here, and now, like many others, I find myself thinking about not being able to say goodbye, not having one more stained glass window, not having thanked him for all he did for me.

Here’s one thing I can say without doubt, nothing else could light up David’s face like when he talked about the children. It changed him and seemed to give him a purpose that he didn’t have before. I could see the joy in his eyes and hear the happiness in his voice when the conversation changed to the kids. Meeting Tonya and then the blessing of the children seemed to be the fulfillment of his dreams.

David was a kind and generous man, among many other fine qualities. He gave me a job when I needed work, he cooked for me when I had no food, he gave us housing arrangments when we needed a place to call home, he bought us a beer at the Rueb when times were tight. He will be remembered by me for all he did when I was in college, for the great artist he was, for the great holiday parties he had, for all the stories he told, and for the devoted dad he loved being.

Our hearts go out to you in this time of sadness.

Lisa Bond and family

David Kjerland

I are shocked and saddened by the death of David Kjerland. A kindler, gentler soul never lived. When I knew David back in the early 70's during my 18 years in Northfield, I so enjoyed his art, his humor and that sweet smile. David's art lives on and every time we look at his work we'll remember him and WE will smile.

Northfield has lost one of its best this week. My very best and my heartfeld sympathy to David's family.

Maureen Valley
Eustis, Florida


Was not made aware of David's passing until
Sat.night after the funeral.He will be greatly missed by myself and so many others.
One of the first people I met when arriving
in Nfld.numerous years ago and spent many
hours chatting about art and good beer etc.
My heartfelt sympathy to the family,his wife
and children meant the world to him.We can
be fortunate to remember him by his artistic
talent displayed all over the country in so
many ways.
He will be Missed.