About Us

Meet Our Staff

At Carson, we take great care in providing the highest quality of service possible. Take a look at our staff bios to learn more about our incredible professionals and how to contact them.

Don W. Carson

Funeral Director

Is the third generation of Carson funeral directors and is a graduate of Maquoketa Community High School. He is a lifelong resident of Maquoketa and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Minnesota. He has been a licensed funeral director since 1994. He is also the founder of Udressit Company, and inventor of the Udressit Memorial envelope, which is currently used by funeral homes across the United States.

Email Don at [email protected]

Ron J. Rath

Funeral Director

Ron has been with our staff since 1986 and is originally from Dubuque. He is a 1975 graduate of Dubuque Senior High School and is a 1978 graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago. He has been a licensed funeral director in Illinois and Iowa since 1979.

Email Ron at [email protected].

Charlie Easterly, NCC

Aftercare Coordinator–Funeral Assistant

Charlie serves as our Aftercare coordinator and also as a funeral assistant. He joined the firm on January 4, 2005 and serves as a funeral assistant and heads up our AfterLoss Support Group. He has brought an extensive background with years of experience and training into this area of our funeral care team. He has facilitated adult grief support groups using Understanding Your Grief and The Understanding Grief Journal authored by renowned grief specialist Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Email Charlie at [email protected].

Curt Gruver

Funeral Assistant–Maintenance Department–Security

Curt serves as a funeral assistant, heads up our maintenance department and is also the head of security. He first worked here in the 1980′s and re-joined the firm in December of 2006, after a long and distinguished career in law enforcement. Curt’s years of working in the law enforcement field have given him a vast amount of life experience and knowledge and he has been a tremendous asset to our funeral care team.

Colleen Petaros


Colleen serves as our staff Chaplain/Celebrant.  In May of 2014 she completed training with the “In-Sight” Institute to become a Certified Funeral Celebrant.  Her training prepares her to provide services for families who:  identify themselves as “spiritual, but not religious”; do not have a minister or church affiliation; and/or want a unique, personalized service.  She meets with the family to gather stories and listen to their memories.  The funeral experience is built around these stories. 

She is now a Certified Lay Minister assigned to the First United Methodist Church of Maquoketa as a Ministry Assistant.  The emphasis of her ministry is caregiving.  She also works as a chaplain for Hospice of Jackson County.  She teaches a class on caregiving for the School for Lay Ministry and teaches classes for Lay Servants.

Email Colleen at [email protected].

Holly Bennett

Hostess - Preplanning Counselor - Funeral Assistant

Holly joined our staff in April of 2019 and is originally from southern Iowa.  She serves as our hostess and funeral assistant as well as our licensed preplanning insurance agent.  She lives in Wyoming, Iowa. 

Email Holly at [email protected].

Milan James

Funeral Assistant - Maintenance Department - Security

Milan serves as a funeral assistant and is also part of our security team. He joined our staff in November of 2017 after a long career in law enforcement as an Iowa State Trooper.  Much like Curt Gruver, his many years of working in the law enforcement field have given him a vast amount of life experience which makes him an immense asset to our funeral care team.

Jillane Renner

Hostess - Funeral Assistant - Housekeeping

Jillane joined our firm in 2013 and wears many hats for our funeral home.  She is the head hostess and makes sure things run smoothly in “The Bistro” for all events.  She also will be seen opening doors and greeting guests as well as making sure our building and grounds stay clean as the head of our housekeeping team.  She lives in Elwood.


Registered Therapy Dog

Hello. My name is Ally, I’m a staff member at Carson Celebration of Life Center in Maquoketa. I was born on April 30, 2014 in Ohio. I am a Goldendoodle, hypo-allergenic, and a Registered Therapy Dog.

As many of you are aware, dogs are used in many lines of work and therapy dogs at funeral homes are no different. We love unconditionally and provide a sense of comfort that humans sometimes can’t. 

At 14 months old, I received my CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Certificate and I am working hard each day at obtaining more certificates. 

I’m at the funeral home almost every day and on hand to comfort families. I wear a vest and am available for funerals, gatherings, arrangement/family conferences, etc. I also make weekly appearances at nursing and retirement homes, schools, and hospitals and more upon request as a part of my responsibilities. 

Please stop by and say hi to me and look for me around town. I love getting to know new people and making forever friends. 

Please like my Facebook page and follow my journey at www.facebook.com/AllyTheTherapyDog.

Retired Staff Members

William Garfield “Bill” Carson, F.D. (1904-1988)


Founded the funeral home in 1936. W.G. “Bill” Carson was born on September 18, 1904 the son of Frank C. Carson and Mary J. (Van Dorn) Carson. He started in funeral service as a child, washing cars and running errands for the former Buchner Funeral Home in Maquoketa. He was one of the few who knew how to drive a hearse and was used on a regular basis for that role.

He graduated from Maquoketa Community High School, and then graduated from Hohenschuh-Carpenter College of Embalming in 1927. After graduation, he continued to work at Buchner Funeral Home until 1936. He then went on his own, and started the Carson-Balster Funeral Home, with the financial backing of Ed Balster. In 1950, he bought out the former Buchner Funeral Home, and in 1951, he bought out Ed Balster’s share of the business, and the name was changed to Carson Funeral Home. He continued to operate the business until retiring and completely turning the business over to his son Rodney in 1970.

“Bill” was an active member of the Maquoketa community for many years. He was known throughout the funeral industry to be from the “old school”, where professional ethics and skills were the essential backbone of the business. In the early years, he often would embalm the bodies in homes and stay all night with the family. Once the industry began the transition to the funeral home, he continued to be a master embalmer educating many younger embalmers and funeral service professionals on “old school” techniques no longer taught in mortuary school.

“Bill” was married to the former Dorothy Schoendelen, and they had a son, D. Rodney Carson of Maquoketa. They had two grandchildren – Valerie Clark of Des Moines, Iowa, and Don Carson of Maquoketa, Iowa. In his spare time he loved fishing and the outdoors, attending his grandchildren’s sporting events, and traveling with Dorothy to California every year.

W.G. “Bill” Carson died on March 23, 1988 at the Jackson County Public Hospital in Maquoketa at the age of 83. His wife, Dorothy, who had been active in the community passed away on December 15, 2012.

D. Rodney Carson

Funeral Director

Is the second owner in the history of Carson & Son and is a lifelong Maquoketa resident.  He is a 1956 graduate of Maquoketa Community High School and the University Of Minnesota Program Of Mortuary Science. He has been a licensed funeral director since 1962.

Rodney is married to the former Beverly Socks and has a daughter, Valerie Clark of Des Moines, and a son, Don Carson of Maquoketa. He has three grandchildren – Nate Clark & Natalie Clark of Des Moines, Iowa, & Karysa L. “Ky” Carson of Maquoketa, Iowa.

Rev. Ruth Ann Scott


Ruth Ann Caraway Scott served as our on-staff Chaplain/Celebrant from 2004 to 2015.  She completed training with the “In-Sight” Institute to become a Certified Funeral Celebrant in 2004. The Celebrant training allowed her to fulfill the needs of many area families who didn’t wish to use a church and/or do not have a clergy for celebration of life services.

Cathy Easterly

Hostess, pre-planning Counselor, Funeral Assistant

Cathy Casteel Easterly served as our hostess, funeral assistant and pre-planning counselor with a life insurance license from February 5, 2008 and retired on March 1, 2019.