In the 30 years that Bradshaw’s Team Leader David Haroldson has served families as a funeral director, there has been extraordinary change in his industry, he says. When he first graduated from the
University of Minnesota, for example, funerals were standardized. Within the limits of a culture or religion, families had little choice about how a funeral service was conducted.
“When I first entered the business, technical skills were the number one competency for a good funeral director,” he says, “Today, however, you’ve got to be a great listener. In fact, you must start with the premise that every funeral service will be as unique as the person who has died so you must care enough to pay close attention.”
Another critical skill that funeral directors should develop, David says, especially funeral directors for the
Bradshaw Group, is creativity, and that means frequently doing things in a funeral home that have never been tried before. “Families see a funeral or memorial service in perspective of their own grieving process,” he explains, noting that they want to help shape those moments with friends and family so they will be the most meaningful to them.
“At Bradshaw, we don’t let much of anything stand in our way. We want every celebration to be just right,” David explains. One ceremony explains what he means: set at the Stillwater/East Metro Center (Learn more), which is light-filled with many giant windows, the chapel was transformed into a campground including tents, evergreen trees, a canoe, an artificial brook with a bridge and fake campfires. The guests were seated on lawn chairs and camp stools. “The man being celebrated had been an avid outdoors person,” he recalls. “The family recreated a scene for his memorial service that he would have loved in his life.”
David’s willingness to find ways to make things happen—on behalf of the family’s wishes—made such a moving service possible. “We turned the entire Center over to that family’s celebration that day. Most funeral home operations wouldn’t be willing to do that.”
Being able to “listen effectively” and having a creative streak are clearly part of David’s home life too. A musician by background and talent (trombone and piano) with a keen sense of being able to play by ear, he also enjoys tinkering with his motorcycles and planning road trips. He and his wife (who also has her motorcycle license) have a teenage son and two adult daughters.