Dorothy Jean (Kela) Polman, age 92, of Alexandria, Minn. (formerly Wadena) passed away on Thursday, January 18, 2023, at Grand Arbor Assisted Living in Alexandria. Funeral Mass was held on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Wadena, with Fr. Aaron Kuhn officiating. Pallbearers were Jack Hegarty, Roger Hegarty, Judah King, Nicholas Polman, Casie Polman, Cydnie Polman. Dorothy was laid to rest at St. Frederick’s Catholic Cemetery, Verndale. 

Dorothy Jean Kela was born on January 2, 1931, in New York Mills, to Edwin and Hilma Evelyn (Mattila) Kela. Dorothy’s mother died when she was 3 and Hanna Anderson became the family housekeeper and mother role in her life. Dorothy attended Sebeka High School and graduated as part of the class of 1949.   

Dorothy was united in marriage to Duane Polman on July 26, 1950, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Wadena. Their marriage was blessed with eleven children. Dorothy and Duane made their home in Sebeka, where they owned and operated the Red Owl Grocery Store.  

In 1955 they moved to Wadena where they continued to expand their family and business, Polman Transfer. In the early years Dorothy did the dispatching, bookkeeping and ran the office in their home while caring for their growing family. She was an astute business woman. As Vice President of Polman Transfer, Dorothy was an integral part of the company’s growth and expansion. Dorothy was also a part of the Christian Mothers and the Ladies Auxiliary VFW.  

In her later years her and Duane traveled extensively from Alaska to Florida, through Canada and over to Holland and Germany. She was an extrovert and loved meeting people and learning about the history and culture of new places.  

When she retired, she spent more time at the family cabin on Otter Tail Lake. She enjoyed time with her grandchildren playing games, swimming, boat rides and preparing their favorite meals and treats. She babysat, had sleepovers, birthday shopping and lunch dates, went to sporting events and cherished her grandchildren.  

Dorothy was an avid reader and always had a book nearby. She also read up on the various family medical issues so that she could understand and be proactive in achieving the best care for her family. She loved gardening and being outdoors and shared that with her children and grandchildren. The large garden helped feed a growing family. It also instilled in them good work ethics. Nothing she did was a waste of time because she did it for others. She taught her daughters the value of being strong women and her sons the value of empathy toward others.  

Deeply loved, Dorothy’s passing will be mourned by her daughters: Deborah (Jeffrey) King; Diane (Ronald) Polman; Daneen Aldrich; Gayle (Ken) Tabery; Delores Polman; Darla (Pete) Hayes; Dana Hegarty; and Jean (Brian) Geiser; her sons: Gregory Polman; Nick (Lonna) Polman; and DJ (Gloria) Polman; 32 grandchildren; 65 great-grandchildren; and many other relatives and a host of friends.  

Dorothy is preceded in death by her husband Duane, parents, beloved caregiver Hanna Anderson and her siblings Raymond Kela, Richard Kela, Gladys (John) Yelverton, Norma (Willard) Osburnsen, Mary Ann (LeRoy) Woodruff, and Virginia (Chuck) Widen. Her granddaughter Danielle Polman and great grandson Jack Windels. 

The family would like to thank the Grand Arbor staff for their exceptional care for Mom. 

Please visit to leave memorials and condolences on Dorothy’s Tribute Wall. 

Arrangements provided by Karvonen Funeral & Cremation Service of Wadena.