Carl Donald Pfotenhauer, 91, of Blaine, Minnesota was called home to his Lord and Savior on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at Way of the Lord on Tuesday, March 30 at 11am.  There will be viewing from 9-11am.  The service will also be available for viewing live at and afterward on this site.  

Carl, who usually went by Don, was born in Vernon, British Columbia on January 27, 1930 to Reverend Carl and Hanna Pfotenhauer, the fifth of six children. He married Martha Johnson on August 21, 1954 and together they raised four children.

Don was ordained as a pastor in the Missouri Synod Lutheran church. In 1961 he began pastoring a Lutheran church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. In 1964 Don and Marty experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that dramatically changed their lives.  Don founded Way of the Cross church in 1969 and moved to Blaine. Through his pastoral care, Way of the Cross flourished and grew. Don was a respected leader in the ecumenical charismatic movement in the 70s and 80s. His life touched many.

Don loved the outdoors and adventure, an avid gardener and wood craftsman.  His heart overflowed with singing, wisdom, teaching from the Bible, and a genuine love for people.  He was unashamedly bold in sharing about his Lord. His children and grandchildren cherish many shared memories with him of fishing and rough housing and of his compassionate and godly life that impacted all of them.

Don is survived by his wife Marty (89), his four children Jill (Phil), John (Nadine), Penny (Paul), and Carla (Keith), 13 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.  

A memorial service will be held at Way of the Lord (formerly Way of the Cross) on Tuesday, March 30th at 11am (viewing from 9-11 am).  The service will be recorded live at and will be available afterward at this site.

Memorial donations may be given to Way of the Lord Church at 804, 131st Avenue NE, Blaine, Minnesota 55434.  
Posted by Richard Martin on April 7, 2021
I could sit here and read each of these tributes to a life well lived. I only met Don once or twice, but I will see him again. What a day that will be! With deep love for his family, in Christ.
Richard Martin
Posted by David Friedman on April 7, 2021
To the entire Pfotenhauer family, We are sorry to hear about Pastor Don's passing. We are sure he is comforted right now, though.
He was an amazing person—a real role model, excellent teacher and he was encouraging to me personally; I know that he deeply loved the Jewish people, and that always was meaningful to me. When I think about the quality children that he and Marti raised—that too speaks volumes about who he was :)

Thanks for letting us know. Marti, may He give peace and comfort to you and to your entire family.

David (and Margalit)

Rabbi Dr. D. Friedman
Bet Midrash Lev Zion
Jerusalem, Israel
Posted by Carla Jentoft on March 31, 2021
Laura (Hintz) Robinson
March 29, 2021

As a young girl named Laura , any time Uncle Donald would come to visit us, he would loudly sing, "Tell Laura, I Love Her" and I would get embarassed and hide in my bedroom. As time progressed, I grew to relish his singing, especially when accompanied by his siblings as they sang old German songs in harmony around the dining room table! He had an infectious smile and a kind heart.
Posted by JoAnn Magnuson on March 31, 2021
JoAnn Magnuson
March 30, 2021

Dear Pfotenhauer Family & Friends,
I wish I could be present at the celebration of Don's life, but I have to celebrate from home at this time.
On July 2nd, 1971 I drove out to Blaine with a car full of friends from Pilgrim Lutheran Church in south Mpls.
I got a bit lost on the way and by the time we arrived at your house the prayer meeting had started. Our little Bible study group from Pilgrim had been praying for guidance as to the reality of the Charismatic Movement. We had heard about your story and decided to check it out. We knew we were at the right place when we heard praise songs floating out from the living room.
As we tip-toed through the kitchen and found chairs in the dining room, I was silently praying for direction. Suddenly I heard a voice and these words, "If this is true it could cost you everything you've got!" I pondered that for a bit and then silently responded, "If it is true it is worth everything I've got."
Don and the elders prayed for us after the meeting. I came home and sat down to pray. I realized I was speaking words I didn't know. I flipped open my Bible and landed on Psalm 81:5; "I heard a language I understood not."

Things moved quickly after that. By October 30, the week of Reformation Day, Pilgrim held a sort of "heresy trial" and excommunicated 12 of us from the Wisconsin Synod. The headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune weekend religion page read: "12 suspended from local Lutheran church." And listed our names. Thus began years of wonderful adventures!

For me the adventure involved leading 69 study trips to Israel; 15 trips to Poland and an amazing collection of friends from all over the world.

I'm 83 years old now, and my doctor wants me to avoid groups of people at this time. But I'm with you in spirit and I'm praising the Lord today for the role that Pastor Don played in my life. I suspect that songs of thanks and praise are echoing back and forth from Minnesota to Heaven and back again today. Love, JoAnn
Posted by Julie Dustin on March 30, 2021
I started going to Way of the Cross as a little girl, Julie Martini Dustin, I was part of the last confirmation class. I just want to say thank you for Pastor Don's faithfulness. The impact of that, which then impacted my family, my children and my Grandchildren. I shutter to think where we would be without the Lord... May the Lord be with you in the days and weeks ahead. May you feel his presence during this time....
Posted by Sarah P. on March 30, 2021
I only knew Pastor Pfotenhauer as a small child at Way of The Cross Church, but the impact he’s had on my life has lasted a lifetime. My family had many deep, difficult struggles throughout my childhood. But there was a period of time when we attended Way of The Cross that we as a family knew the deep peace and love of God in our lives. Our time spent there has forever impacted my heart and encouraged me to seek the glory of God in my own life and for the lives around me. Pastor Pfotenhauer and Marty were true servants of God who carried the heart of The Father and impacted powerfully all who came into contact with them. The memories I have from Way of The Cross are forever etched upon my heart and encourage me to live a life worthy of His Name. The world lost one of the greatest leaders I’ve known, but Father God gained His glorious inheritance of His Beloved Son. Thank you Don, Marty, and family for your commitment and sacrifice to the ministry of Christ Jesus to the church. You have and continue to forever impact my life and the lives of those whom you’ve shown the love of The Father to. Marty, may you be blessed knowing the legacy your husband has left behind. May Father God surround you at this time with the same comfort and love that you and Don lived to bring to His church. Don will forever be missed, but his legacy will forever be carried on in our hearts and lives. Much love to the Pfotenhauer family from ours to yours. God bless you ♥️
Posted by Vivian Justus on March 30, 2021
Uncle Don was so pastoral in his outlook. He would look in your eyes and see Jesus and you’d feel the power to live into that! I think he truly loved us all and we’re so grateful for that love. As we age, we realize how rare a person he was. Marty and family- you can be so proud of him! 
With love in our memories,
Viv and John Justus.
Posted by Paul Svenkeson on March 29, 2021
Don, you loved so much and so freely. Your adventurous spirit encouraged us greatly. Your compassion went deep and never failed to challenge our hearts to find more within us. Thank you Don for being a father leader friend. We’ll all miss your smiles til we meet you at heavens gates.
Farewell til then.
Posted by Maryetta Passon on March 26, 2021
Though Dear Pastor Don will be much missed by everyone who knew him, we rejoice with you all in celebrating his New Life in the presence of Jesus.
We’ve not seen Don and his lovely Marty for many years now, but they’ve both made an indelible mark on MY life ..and place in my heart. His loving shepherd’s heart and dynamic & life building teachings are still truly missed. It still seems that no pastor or preacher I’ve known or heard since.. could fill his shoes. Lovely memories remain. And more than a unique and gifted pastor and apostle, he was just “special”... and I have the diamond willow lamp he gave me as a lovely remembrance.
Gary and I are sincerely thankful... to God first, and to Marty and his family, for sharing him in being that special part in our Walk with The Lord.
God’s ‘Grace upon Grace’, His unfathomable Peace, and His abundant Blessings to Marty & his family. Maryetta & Gary Passon
Posted by Y Bucklew on March 23, 2021
Our hearts and prayers are with Marty and family at this time. Don had a huge impact on our lives as a young family who wanted more from “religion” and instead encountered a relationship with the living, loving God. Don made the Word of God alive and relevant. The entire course of our walk with the Lord was set into motion under Don’s teaching. May all who knew him feel the comfort from our precious Lord that Don taught us to lean on. Kathy and Bill Bucklew, Lakeland, FL
Posted by ROBERT BURMEISTER on March 22, 2021
Our love and sincere condolences in Don’s passing. He was a true elder brother in the Lord. May the Holy Spirit bring you comfort in this time .
                 Rev. Bob and Jane Burmeister
Posted by Thomas Longfellow on March 21, 2021
Under Don's tutelage, Way of the Cross was during my 12th - 14th years of life, the PERFECT place for me to be! Thank you Don and Marty for listening to The Spirit. In many ways, I owe to you who I am to today, some 40+ years later.

RIP, Don. Thanks, Marty & family!

Thomas Longfellow, D.O.
Posted by Maria Luisa on March 16, 2021
To Marty and all your beloved family: Reuven and I, Mary Lou are grateful to have had Pastor Don and Marty in our lives throughout our years living in Minnesota. There is much than can be said and others will no doubt say it better. Don is forever alive! We are grateful for his love and compassion and all the time we got to spend with Don and Marty in their home. Our kids will never forget playing cards with Don and Marty!! Such genuine people. 
Posted by Rosalie Stuart on March 15, 2021
Don was a one-of-a-kind person. So special. So thankful for him and his impact on my life. He was my first pastor for many years after I came to know the Lord. I will always remember Don’s eyes. When I looked into his eyes, I was taken aback by the immense kindness in them. I’ve never encountered a person with as much kindness in his eyes as were in Don’s.

I always loved the way Don sung all the songs and hymns! So much enthusiasm and gusto! I was brought up Catholic and had never seen such a display of gusto in church!

Don played a very significant role in my life when he, quite literally, stood in the gap when I married a divorced person. He protected us from all the vitriol by some people.

Love your family. Loved seeing the kids grow up and come into their own. Prayers for Marty and you all.
Posted by Bonnie Beckstrom on March 15, 2021
Marty and family, my heart is filled with gratitude for sharing Don with us. Don was/is the real deal. His Godly example, tender heart and caring spirit was so freely given to all. I can hear him singing "Daughter of Jerusalem" and when it's my time to move to heaven, him saying loudly "Bonnie B' with a twinkle in his eyes.  Also he grew the best rhubarb which he shared with me every summer. Thank you.

Posted by Tom Stuart on March 15, 2021
Dear Family,
Words cannot adequately express Don's impact on mine and my family's lives. We thank God for his friendship, encouragement, pastoral love and care along with your mom Marty for all of us in our formative years as Christians and following Jesus. We treasure are memories of living life and serving the Lord together. While he is now rejoicing in heaven, we pray for Marty and all of you for God's comfort and encouragement in now adjusting to life down here without him. Much love and blessings, Tom & Susan Stuart

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Richard Martin on April 7, 2021
I could sit here and read each of these tributes to a life well lived. I only met Don once or twice, but I will see him again. What a day that will be! With deep love for his family, in Christ.
Richard Martin
Posted by David Friedman on April 7, 2021
To the entire Pfotenhauer family, We are sorry to hear about Pastor Don's passing. We are sure he is comforted right now, though.
He was an amazing person—a real role model, excellent teacher and he was encouraging to me personally; I know that he deeply loved the Jewish people, and that always was meaningful to me. When I think about the quality children that he and Marti raised—that too speaks volumes about who he was :)

Thanks for letting us know. Marti, may He give peace and comfort to you and to your entire family.

David (and Margalit)

Rabbi Dr. D. Friedman
Bet Midrash Lev Zion
Jerusalem, Israel
Posted by Carla Jentoft on March 31, 2021
Laura (Hintz) Robinson
March 29, 2021

As a young girl named Laura , any time Uncle Donald would come to visit us, he would loudly sing, "Tell Laura, I Love Her" and I would get embarassed and hide in my bedroom. As time progressed, I grew to relish his singing, especially when accompanied by his siblings as they sang old German songs in harmony around the dining room table! He had an infectious smile and a kind heart.
his Life

From Ruth, Don's older sister

What I remember about Don was that when we lived in Canada, we had a wonderful school system with advancement for everyone.When we came to Schaumber there was 1 teacher for all 8 grades. Mrs. Sanders took Don and Lois and privately schooled them in reading and arithmetic and evidently they succeeded.When we came to Chicago Don and Fritz walked every day to Curtis school.

In Schaumberg we lived near golf course which had a pond.The pond would freeze over every winter so Dad got us all ice skates and we would hike over there and he taught us all to skate.Don was the best and I think he taught others to skate at St. Louis. When we moved to Chicago, Palmer Park was close by and it had a warming house.They would have the whole rink to themselves.

I took care of Don and Fritz for several months while Mom went to Edmonton Alberta to recover from a surgery I think.Hulda took care of the house.Mom would have German immigrants help with the housework and she would teach them English.

So I remember the years growing up, but another person’s memory will have to cover the years from St. Louis on.

From Don's younger brother, Fritz

Before he and I went to bed, Dad always told us stories.A lot of made up- about knights in armor (Gottfried and Poloma) and things like that.

We played together lots. Ran out in the fields in Schaumberg together.Hunted for golf balls like crazy people.

We were really close.At that point, I grew taller than he, I think that was a little difficult for him, but other than that the competition wasn’t too great.

He was more oriented to fixing things and making plaster of Paris figurines.He put things together.He was really good at looking for garbage.One of the deep pains in his life came of this.He and I used to scourge the allies of our neighborhood looking for scrap metal.When we had enough, we’d take it to Yitzkies, to get money.That’s how we had some money.From the crap we picked up here and there he put together a bicycle, fenders, and all sorts of extras, painted it all himself.I had a bike too but nothing on it.One day we went to the local park to go swimming.He took a big heavy chain to lock his up.I didn’t bring a chain.When we came out after swimming, his chain had been cut and his bike had been taken.He had to be humiliated to ride back on mine because mine was left there.

The other big event was when we were in Schaumberg.We were playing ping pong in the church basement.and Don smelled smoke.I told him he was fanaticizing.He said, “No man, I smell smoke.”There were some basement doors and he went through those and ran upstairs and the whole place was ablaze with fire.I ran home because someone else had called the police.The cops found it inexplicable that we would be playing ping pong in the basement and hadn’t started the fire ourselves.My Dad finally told them not to come anymore.Finally a week or two later a kid was caught trying to light another church and confessed to having started ours as well.

We also used to ice skate.My dad arranged with the park guy who turned lights out so that we could skate until he would pick us up. We both skated in silver skates.I never got any metals.Except once when the 2 guys ahead of me fell.But Don did.I always accused him of stealing my metals.Wasn’t true, but made for a good story.I remember I was chasing him one time on skates and didn’t see another guy and hit him hit full blast, fell back, was bleeding out of my ears- I had fractured my skull.With his ice skates on Don walked with me across bumpy field to get to a doctor.I of course blamed him.

Another time I was chasing him on foot and coming up to the avenue – it was a busy street with the streetcar line.He ran across the street and I ran and didn’t look and got hit by a car and rolled up on the hood.There was a cop right there but I tried to run away because I hadn’t changed my underwear, as Mom was always warning us to do in case we got picked up ever.

We used to ride the train out to a town called Holmwood.We went to a Jewish golf course named Raveslaw.And did caddying.Dad wouldn’t let us go on Sundays’ so we were always at the back of the line the next Tuesday when golf started again.

Don would save all his money.I would spend my all on ice cream.He would want a bite or lick.

Once in a while we would do a stupid thing.A train that ran near where we lived would slow down, and we would run and grab a bar and ride it to the next town.

Then we went off to college, to prep school. Mom wanted us to stay home, but we had to go when 15. And we were ready to go, because our 3 older brothers had already left at age 15.So Don and I followed.First time we were really split up.Lived in same dorm for a year or two but never roomed together, which I thought was always kind of strange in retrospect.

Then when in the seminary, we cleaned a private grade school every day together- the blackboards and the bathrooms.We sat at the same table to eat every meal.But he hung around with a different crowd because he was older than I was.

From there met he Marty, I can’t remember how.I knew her because I was the milkman to that area.I was really jealous because she was good looking.

After he graduated from seminary, then he went up to Canada.I really wanted to go to Canada and asked to be placed there- I had been born there, Don was up there- but got sent to New Jersey.

So we spent a lot of time together growing up.
Recent stories

Dad's 90th Birthday Album

Shared by Carla Jentoft on August 7, 2021
The attached pdf is an album that my father's family and friends put together for him on his 90th birthday.  It includes accounts from his family members growing up, his children, and many of the people he pastored along with accompanying photos.

Visiting Other Churches with Don

Shared by MATTHEW GOERS on August 4, 2021
I have been thinking that I should add this story for some time, and today I finally will. I only got to know Don in his later years, being active at Way of the LORD only in 2013-2016. There was a time during that period that Way of the LORD was sending people out by twos to visit all of the churches within a certain radius of the WotL building. I teamed up with Don on Wednesdays to visit different churches in the area, meet the respective pastors, and pray with them. I was there with Don and an on-fire, young General Baptist Conference pastor who wanted to take the Cities for Jesus. I was with him at a Lutheran church where the pastor pulled Don aside and asked him if he would come and teach them on the gifts of the Spirit. But, the time that I wanted to leave a note about was the honor and privilege I had to walk into King of Glory LCMS with Don. I do not know if he had been back there since the early days, but I went in with him and was invited to the pastor's office. After a time of talking, the pastor said, "Oh, Pfotenhauer! I've heard of you." I thought, but did not say, 'I bet you have.' Then the pastor invited Don and I into the sanctuary, and asked Don some questions about the building of the sanctuary, particularly the field stones in there. Then, the then-current pastor of King of Glory Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, Pastor Don, and I stood in that sanctuary and prayed together. What a blessing and honor to be part of such a momentous occasion.

My memories of Don

Shared by scott pfotenhauer on April 5, 2021
Don was born and introduced to the world in a magical place – Canada.  The possibilities  stretched across wide open plains, floated over giant lakes, wound through apple and peach trees and carried themselves out to a faraway skyline.  The area they lived in – because of the climate and rich soil – was later called the Napa of Oregon.  Fruit orchards were abundant, summer days turned into warm evenings and for a young boy starting his life the opportunities for adventure seemed limitless. It’s no wonder that years later when I asked Don for his memory of Canada it was one word, Dreamlike.

His father was a pastor and was well known in town and outside of town.  Because of the duties of the job, and also because he loved being outdoors, Carl was often doing mission work – bringing food and support to families who lived hours or days into the wilderness.  Don’s older brothers, Norm and Paul, were old enough to sometimes accompany their dad on these missions while Don would stay home, looking forward to the time when he could join in  It was during one of these times that Don decided to apply some of his school teachings at home.  In class they had been discussing the effect of gravity.  Hanna, Don’s mom, told me later that she couldn’t understand why the supply of eggs kept running down each day.  It had gone on for several days and between the production of the hens and what she using for cooking the accounting wasn’t adding up.  But she went around the corner of the house and found that Don had set up a short ramp and was placing the eggs at the top of it and measuring the amount of time it took for them to reach the end and then fall to earth.  When Don showed her the list of his results all she could do was laugh and keep the scolding to a minimum.

It was in Canada where Don picked up his passion and began to develop his skill for fishing.  To me he was an expert fisherman, whether for trout or pike or sturgeon or seemingly whatever was in the water.  I recall several days fishing with him on vacations but two stand out.  Once, in the Tetons in the mid 60’s, I was in a shop when I overheard a couple of guys talking about a great day they had on one of the nearby creeks.  I reported back to my dad and Don and couple days later the three of us spent a long day fishing that creek while everyone else was off visiting Yellowstone canyon and other places.  I caught nothing – not even a nibble, my dad was skunked but Don pulled in some nice trout.  It was the first time I had observed fly fishing and it stuck with me how much more technical it was.  It was a fine day, hiking along a creek with just my dad and his brother and I remember when we came back to the road my dad hitch hiking back to the car and then the three of us going to check out the canyon.  It was toward the end of the day and an afternoon storm had come on.  At one point lighting struck close enough so that our hair all stood on end and we laughed and decided maybe we should head back to the car.  A couple days later we hiked up the Snake river – a mile or two up from where it comes into the entrance to Yellowstone.  I had fished in Canada with my brothers and dad on vacations – often in small lakes that were extremely productive.  (We caught way more fish than we could ever eat).  But this day came at the back end of a long vacation where we were mostly skunked and we knew it was the last day before we would be driving home.  It turned out to be one of the best fishing days of my life and maybe doubly so for my dad.  A couple hours in we found some deep holes and the cutthroat began hitting hard on spoons, muddler minnow and black wooly worm wet flies.   This was one of those rare days where basically everything we threw in the river was rewarded.  Also, importantly for my dad, it was one of those rate days where he caught more fish than Don, an important landmark for him.

From the 70’s forward my time with Don became more sporadic – but a couple memories stand out.  I was in Kansas in the mid 70’s for a conference built around teachings and learnings from the first generation church.  In the evenings there were 50,000 of us in the baseball stadium.  Don lead the prayer one evening and it was very powerful.  I remember I could hear several people around me with comments like, “Who was that person?” or “That was the most powerful prayer I’ve ever heard”. 

In the mid 80’s Thom Preisinger organized a family reunion in the Sierras.  It was fun to see Ruth and Lois and Norm and Don and Fritz and my dad Paul, and their spouses, all together again.  It was very clear the respect and affection they had for each other - and their differences.  Norm always had one of the most generous and graceful hearts of anyone I have known.  Lois and my sister Kris were interchangeable – practical, thoughtful of others, hard-working, and most content when she was around and helping out others – and especially family.  Ruth seemed calm at all times and had a quick wit when it was called for – and stayed curious and adventuresome.  Fritz seemed most aware of his physical senses.  He would describe how the food tasted, would recount the strains of hiking, was often pushing himself while skiing – and always wanted to reserve a little time in the bar during a day of skiing to “take in the scenery”.  If there was anyone who was tapped into the Holy Spirit it was Don – and I’m sure others will tell some stories about how that played into his life in the 60’s.  My dad relied on his brain – to understand, challenge and push – whether it was his friends or preparing for bible study.  More than once I recall the organist (whose husband had founded the church) telling me, I wish your dad was just trust the bible and quit challenging it.

On my last call with Don I recall him saying, “I’m looking forward to dying because I won’t have to learn any more new technology”.  He has now moved on to another dimension – but his spirit lives still with his family, friends and the countless thousands he spent time with and whose lives he changed.