Audrey Thiele, age 95, of Willmar, passed away peacefully Saturday evening, Feb. 1, at her residence in Willmar.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar. Interment will be at Hillcrest Cemetery in Glencoe. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Rice Hospice or Vinje Lutheran Church are preferred. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar. www.petersonbrothers.com
Audrey Thiele was born in Glencoe, Minnesota on February 15, 1924, the only child of Frederick and Lena Bargman. She was baptized, confirmed, and married at The Church of Peace (UCC) in Glencoe. In 1942, she graduated from Glencoe High School. She attended the University of Iowa for one year until her education was interrupted by WWII. During the war, women known as ‘Teletypes’ from the Civil Aeronautics Administration were being recruited to communicate with aircraft being ferried to Russian Allies in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. She was trained in Santa Monica, California and then stationed in LeGrande, Oregan and Custer, Montana. There she lived with two other women for a year tracking planes collecting information via Morse code using teletype. It was while she was in Montana, a message came to Audrey from her high school sweetheart, Duke Thiele. “Get home, we’re going to get married”. She became a “war bride” on December 27, 1944 and followed Duke to air bases in Texas, New Mexico, and Nebraska. After the war, Aud and Duke entered civilian life with Duke apprenticing in Professional Photography and Aud studying the art of hand-colouring photographs. In 1947, they purchased Daniel’s Studio in Glencoe. As Thiele Studio became a reality, they also started their family. Within the next eight years, the couple was blessed with four children. Audrey continued helping Thiele Studio and became a busy mom and homemaker. Aud and Duke were charter members of the new Christ Lutheran Church where Audrey was active in “Ladies Aid”. She served as president of the PTA and as a Troop Leader for Boy and Girl scouts. They enjoyed time with treasured friends in monthly “potluck” gatherings, were great supporters of all their four children’s activities and enjoyed golfing at the Glencoe Golf Course. Precious family memories were made at the family cabin on Lake Minnibelle and Seaquist/Olufs Resort. In 1971, Duke took the opportunity to start the Photography Program at Willmar Vocational Technical School and the family moved to Willmar. Audrey continued her connections in photography working at Barnes Studio. They became members of Vinje Lutheran Church where many new friendships were made. Being new residents in Willmar and becoming “empty nesters” availed them time to pursue their dreams of travel. Becoming travel hosts for a travel company they explored the world. Between 1972-1984 Aud and Duke became grandparents and great grandparents. This became the focus and joy of their lives. After Duke died in 2000, Audrey was blessed with nine more great grandchildren. She loved entertaining, gardening, her Red Hat ladies, “Hand and Foot” pals, and activities at Vinje Lutheran. Audrey is remembered as a fun-loving, creative, faithful, caring friend, and loving mother.
Left to cherish her memory are her children, Nancy (and Mike) Ratzloff of Little Falls, Jane Henderson of Excelsior, Julie Knutson of Willmar and Dan (and Paula) Thiele of Big Lake; eight grandchildren; ten great grandchildren and a step-brother, Leon Wiese of Billings, MT., besides other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Duane “Duke” Thiele in 2000.
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