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Obituary for Elmer Thies


Elmer Thies, age 104, died peacefully on March 10, 2019 after a short illness. He was born July 30, 1914 on the family farm on Portland Prairie in SE Minnesota where he spent his entire life. In 1939 he met Mildred Albee from Twin Falls, Idaho at her Albee grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary on Portland Prairie. After a 3 year long- distance relationship (composed almost entirely of letters since neither phone nor long distance travel was feasible), Elmer and Mildred were engaged on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor and were married on August 9, 1942 in Twin Falls, Idaho. They left Idaho and traveled by bus and train on a tour of New York City, Niagara Falls and Washington DC, an experience fondly and often recounted. Elmer was an advocate for the Caledonia and Eitzen communities. He loved his family home farm and there was no other place he would have preferred to spend his life. In amazement he watched farming change from workhorses to satellite farming, transportation from horses to cars and airplanes, gas lighting to electricity and paper to computers. He attended the University of Minnesota School of Agriculture from 1931 to 1935. He served his community as president of the Rural Youth; served on the Root River Soil and Water Conservation board of supervisors 1943-1950 and was a past president of the Houston County Farm Bureau. He was a lifelong supporter of conservative values and past Houston County GOP chairman. The Masonic Lodge and Eitzen Lions Club were important service organizations in his life. His enthusiasm was well known in the community. He loved to ride his Arabian horse in parades. He and Mildred had the opportunity to travel to all 50 states, as well as Egypt, Israel, England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Mexico. He and his cousin rode horseback through the Winnebago Valley to their required German catechism classes at St. Luke’s church in Eitzen, delaying his public education by 2 years. After marriage he and Mildred transferred to the Caledonia Methodist Church (because Mildred could not understand the German language services) and they remained members there throughout their lives. Memorized recitations and trumpet melodies, singing above the noise of the tractor, amateur magic shows, fun skits, community plays and Ole and Lena jokes were all part of who he was. He is survived by daughters, Linda (Steve) Hadley and Marlene (Rick) Hutter. He was hero to granddaughters, Heather (Brian) Cariveau, Kristin (Dan) Winterer, Janelle (Mike) Harrel, and Hilary (Mikal) Nelson. Elmer had 8 great grandchildren, Ryden, Elian, Cambria, Winston, Aletta, Everett, Avea, and Asher; his sister, Ruby Petersen; and sister-in-law, Marge Albee Bush. Elmer was preceded in death by Mildred, his wife of 68 years, an infant son, his parents, Louise Fruechte and Frank Thies, childhood brothers, Roy and Walter and sisters, Lora Schoh, Martha Beardmore and Ella Hartley. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m., Sunday, March 17, 2019, at the Caledonia United Methodist Church, 308 N. Kingston St. Pastor Debbie King-Quale will officiate. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery. A visitation will be from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and from 12 noon until the time of service. In lieu of flowers, donation suggestions are: Portland Prairie Church, Caledonia Methodist Church, St. Luke’s Eitzen Church, Caledonia Lions’ Club, Gundersen Medical Foundation (palliative care), Shriners’ Hospital, or the charity of your choice. Special thanks to neighbors and friends on Portland Prairie, as well as Bonnie Paulson, Sharon Forester and Mike Wray, who supported him in his desire to remain in his lifelong home. Also thanks to the therapists and staff at Caledonia Rehab and for the excellent care provided by the Palliative Care service at Gundersen Health. .