In loving memory of

David Ellsworth Fenske
September 21, 1938 - March 19, 2023

David Ellsworth Fenske (of Rochester) passed peacefully at Seasons Hospice in Rochester, MN, on March 19, 2023.

Dave was born on September 21, 1938, and met his wife Sandra (Stadler) in Sept. of 1959 when he returned to Rochester after being discharged from his service in the Navy. The two dated for 3 years before getting married on May 11, 1963. The marriage produced two sons, Daniel and Michael (both of Rochester).

Dave graduated from Rochester High School in 1956. Dave served on the Rochester Fire Department for 26 years (May 1962 - Sept. 1988), retiring as Captain on his 50th birthday. Dave and Sandy had a successful and prosperous arts and crafts business, making and selling crafts throughout the tri-state area. They were blessed to have purchased a home in Mesa, AZ where the two "wintered" for some 33 years. They also greatly enjoyed their cabin/home on Island Lake near Park Rapids, MN, where they spent 18 years/summers "Up North".

Dave's favorite pastimes were hunting and fishing. These were his passions for most of his life and his duck calling skills were unmatched. Dave was a proud member of both Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. Dave never took a duck or a fish without giving thanks to God for the meal..."and the Lord provideth."

David is preceded in death by his brother (Robert "Bob" Fenske) and loving parents Esther and Farrell Fenske, (and granddog Tooter). David is survived by his dear wife (Sandra), sons Daniel (special friend Kelly) and Michael, granddaughters Danielle and Jessica, and four great grandchildren.

Dave always had a great sense of humor and loved to tell jokes and make people smile. He was a man of great faith. We were blessed to have him in our lives and will miss him dearly.

A memorial service will be held Friday, April 14, 2023 at 11am at Trinity Lutheran Church with visitation one hour prior to the service. Interment will take place at Preston Veteran's Cemetery.

Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Fenske family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit


Erv Borgen wrote on Apr 16, 2023:

"Mike and Dan, and of course Sandy; My thoughts and prayers are with you. I had the pleasure to talk to your Dad a few times, what a guy and the world is lesser with his passing. We spoke of duck hunting, imagine that, and also of his sons. Hold your memories dear, they will last forever. I considered him a friend even though I only met him and talked with him a few times, they were special to me and that was the kind of man he was. To Sandy, you are special too, and peace be with you inside the sadness you feel. Godspeed and prayers, love to you all. -Erv Borgen"

Chris Anderson wrote on Mar 21, 2023:

"Mike, Dan, and Sandy, I am so very sorry for your loss. Dave was a nice person who will be missed by all who knew him. I've heard some funny stories over the past several years, such as when he got in a little trouble putting duck decoys in the HOA pond that attracted real ducks, but then later his neighbors enjoyed seeing them. I also saw videos with his beloved grand-dog Tooter, catching/frying fish, and feeding a chipmunk at the cabin. He was an interesting and funny man the few times I spoke to him in person. I was impressed by his service in the Navy and fire department and spending almost 60 years with Sandy. You are in my thoughts and prayers. [HUGS] PS: The photos are from a RFD book written by Firefighter M. Petersen. I worked with his wife at Mayo. Chris Anderson"

Loren Hewitt wrote on Mar 20, 2023:

"My condolences to Sandy and the rest of the family. I got to have Dave as my Captain early in my career with RFD. I still remember Dave at Station 1 on his retirement day. He truly enjoyed his life and was a good friend. RIP big Daddy. "

Gretchen O'Neil wrote on Mar 20, 2023:

"Mike - I am so sorry for you and your family's loss. My thoughts and prays are with you all. Gretchen"