Cover photo for Emil T. Dunham's Obituary
Emil T. Dunham Profile Photo
1932 Emil 2020

Emil T. Dunham

July 23, 1932 — February 26, 2020

Emil T. Dunham, age 87 of Detroit Lakes, MN, died on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at Ecumen-Emmanuel Nursing Home.

Emil Tennis Dunham was born July 23, 1932 at home in rural Pelican Rapids, MN. He was the son of Anna (Dillerud) Dunham and James Dunham. He was raised in the Glyndon and Hawley area and attended school there. He also attended the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston. He joined the Navy in 1951 and was active duty until 1955. He served in the Naval Reserves for another eight years.

He married Grace Smedshammer on September 15, 1957 in Enderlin, ND. They lived in Borup until 1960 when they moved to Detroit Lakes. He owned his milk truck collecting from local farmers and delivering to the dairy. After moving to Detroit Lakes, he worked at Pure Oil Company and Fairmont Foods. Following the closure of Fairmont Foods, he drove for Genuine Parts (NAPA) out of Atlanta, GA, until he retired in 1997. He retired in Willmar with Grace and drove school bus for the Willmar Bus Company. When he retired for the second time, they moved back to Detroit Lakes.

Emil loved spending time with his grandchildren, following their extracurricular activities and taking them fishing. He loved fishing at the “cottage” on Middle Cormorant Lake and his gardens were the best in the neighborhood. He was also a skilled woodworker, making kitchen cabinets and other furniture.

He leaves behind his wife, Grace of 62 years; one son, Doug (Jean); daughters, Brenda Nickles and Lynn Cihak (Ted); grandchildren, Mike Dunham, Mark Dunham (Allison), Anne Dunham, Crystal Nickles, Ryan Cihak, Isaac Cihak, Anna Cihak, Nathan Cihak; sibling, Doris Dahlsad and Donald Dunham (Sharon). He also leaves two sisters-in-law, Sally Dunham and Edith Dunham, and many other relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents; sister, Bernice Iverson, and brothers, Jerry Dunham and Dale Dunham.

Funeral Service will be at 11:00am on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. Visitation will be 5:00-7:00pm on Friday, February 28, 2020 at West-Kjos Funeral Home. Burial will be at Oak Grove Cemetery in Detroit Lakes. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Hospice of the Red River Valley or the cause of your choosing. 

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, February 28, 2020

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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