Cover photo for Karter Patrick Pfahl's Obituary
2006 Karter 2024

Karter Patrick Pfahl

June 21, 2006 — March 4, 2024

Karter Patrick Pfahl, 17, Mandan, passed away at his home on March 4, 2024, after a hard-fought battle with mental illness, depression, and autism.

A memorial service will be held at 11 AM on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, at American Lutheran Church, Mandan, with Rev. Dean Johansen officiating. Burial will be at Mandan Union Cemetery.  

Visitation will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 PM on Monday, March 11, 2024, at Weigel Funeral Home, Mandan, and continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Tuesday. 

Karter was born in Fargo, ND on June 21, 2006, to Stephen and Leslie (Igou) Pfahl.  Raised in Ashley, ND, Karter learned about hard work from a young age as he helped (and played) at the motel his parents owned where he liked to vacuum and shovel snow.   Karter loved when his Dad read him bedtime stories and would always incorporate the Three Stooges into the story.   His Mom enjoyed reading him nursery rhymes and making silly jokes about them.  Karter was effortlessly smart, with a vocabulary and intellect beyond his years, especially with math as he enjoyed calculus.  He was a World War II history buff and was very talented at building all sorts of models and Lego sets.  A self-taught mechanic and car guy, he was working on a 1955 Buick, fixing it up for someday.  Karter liked traveling with his Dad to different hotels and construction sites and spending time at the cabin on Swan Lake, near Fergus Falls, MN, where Karter loved to kayak all over the lake.  Karter was an old soul in many ways and enjoyed music like Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton among others.  He was always well groomed and cared about his appearance whether he was sporting slick hair or fashionable glasses. Karter was a funny jokester and very witty.  He always had a quick comeback and often asked “Wanna hear a fun fact?”  Karter was an avid collector of Hot Wheels and Coke memorabilia.  In the past year he learned to cook and bake and especially loved cooking fish he or his Dad caught.  A young Jack of all Trades, Karter also worked on converting a yard shed into a tiny home for himself and had wired, insulated, and sheet rocked it himself, hoping to stay in it when the weather was nicer.  

In 2020, Karter moved with his Mom to Mandan where he attended Mandan High School.   During his freshmen year, he focused on getting healthy and fit and took great pride in the weight he lost and healthy eating habits and also participated in FFA for one year.  The staff at MHS, especially Mrs. Caya, was so great working with Karter through his ups and downs. He liked riding his bike all over town.   Karter worked at Family Fare in Mandan where he was a cashier and utility man.  The staff and management were so good to Karter and supported him through everything he was dealing with, always wanting him to keep working there. Karter talked about going to trade school after graduating and he wanted to work in construction, welding, or mechanics.  Known to his family as Bug, Buddy, and Karteroo, this talented young man brought his unique spirit and light to the world.  Unfortunately, life had many challenges, many of which Karter worked hard to overcome.  His Mom always told him to embrace his quirks and uniqueness and be himself.

Blessed to have shared in his life is his mom, Leslie Pfahl (Andy Pack), Mandan; dad, Stephen Pfahl (Sharon Walz), Moorhead, MN; siblings, Katherine (Adam) Sommer, Fargo, Courtney (Michael) Wolter, Fargo, Derek Michaelson, Fargo, and Sierra Igou, Ohio; nieces and nephew, Lily, Lola, Avery, Everley, Verity, and Kayden; grandparents, Ray Pfahl and Betty Trapp, both of Fargo; several aunts and uncles; many cousins; his dog, Jax; and turtle, Mac.  They will carry Karter’s legacy - his intelligence, quick wit, and uniqueness.      

Preceded in death by his grandma, Kathryn (Sorge) Igou; grandpa, Orvin McKinley Igou II; and an infant brother, Dustin Stephen Pfahl.

It is impossible to prepare for the harsh reality of losing a loved one, especially a child, at far too young of an age. To lose Karter in this manner is unfathomable. It is a finality difficult to accept. It has left behind a desperate longing to understand the rationale and insanity behind mental illness and the fact that suicide by people with autism is four times higher when compared to the general population.  His death has scarred us in significant, painful and permanent ways. Suicide is a complicated end and compounds with an array of feelings and stigma.  One person taking their own life every 40 seconds is an epidemic of massive proportion, leaving no family untouched. The ensuing recovery for families must find a balance between the crushing punches of abandonment, betrayal, rage, doubt, shame, shock, blame, fear, sorrow, loss, guilt, regret, and confusion and the light-filled promises of presence, love and joy through our memories and the legacy left behind. It has left us utterly breathless.  

This silent epidemic is catastrophic. If talking about it, exposing it, shouting it from the rooftops, will help even one person find a way to talk about their pain, a difference can and must be made.  Show kindness, an openness to talk, and more importantly to listen, to see, to hear without judgement. If only to save one family from the pain and anguish of losing a loved one through bringing awareness to this tragic and senseless loss of life, then our beloved Karter’s death will not be in vain … we cannot afford to lose another light.



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Karter Bulletin Proof.pdf

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, March 11, 2024

5:30 - 7:30 pm (Central time)

Weigel Funeral and Cremation Service

309 4th Ave NW, Mandan, ND 58554

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

American Lutheran Church

1101 10th St SE, Mandan, ND 58554

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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