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John L. Thell

John L. Thell

Aug. 3, 1929 - Aug. 1, 2014

John L. Thell, age 84, of Willmar, died unexpectedly Friday evening, Aug. 1, at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 6, at the Church of St. Mary in Willmar. Interment will be in the church cemetery. Military honors will be provided by the Willmar American Legion Post #167. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. with a Knights of Columbus Rosary Service at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 5, at the Peterson Brothers Funeral Home and will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church.

John Leo Thell was born on August 3, 1929, on his familys dairy farm near Foley in Benton County, Minnesota, the son of John and Regina (Palmersheim) Thell. He grew up in the Foley community and graduated from Foley High School in 1947. From 1951 to 1953, John served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. On October 12, 1953, John was united in marriage to Celeste S. Jamma. They settled in St. Paul and he enrolled at the University of Minnesota School of Agriculture and graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science - Master of Arts degree. Later that same year John began teaching in Parkers Prairie and in 1965, earned his Masters degree from the U of M. In 1966, they moved to Willmar and John was employed as the Ag Teacher at the Willmar High School. John later worked as the Area Agriculture Management Coordinator at the Willmar Vo-Tech for over 25 years. From 1995 to 2005, John and Celeste spent their winters in Donna Texas.

John was a member of the American Legion and Past Commander of Post #219, President of the Minnesota Agriculture Educators from 1969-1970, President of Minnesota FFA Alumni in 1986 and 1996, Recipient of many awards in education and FFA, Honorary Life Member and member of the Knights of Columbus 3rd and 4th Degrees, Past Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus and District Deputy of Minnesota Knights of Columbus, a Minnesota FFA Foundation Donor, member of the Willmar Lions Club for over 20 years, member of the West Central Agriculture Sales in Willmar and was an active member of the Church of St. Mary where he served on the St. Marys Building and Grounds, Cemetery and Stained Glass committees. John was also a church usher and lector for 15 plus years.

Johns hobbies included traveling, golfing, bowling, dancing and playing card games. He was a faithful and devoted Catholic whose faith guided his life.

He is survived by four children, John (and Karen) Thell of Glencoe, Susan (and Nic) Barltrop of England, Robert (and Mary) Thell of Brooklyn Park and David (and Mary) Thell of Fridley and ten grandchildren. Also surviving are two brothers, Richard (and Bernice) Thell of Sauk Rapids and Lawrence (and Jane) Thell of Foley and three sisters, Audrey Hallam of Afton, OK, Rose Mary (and Ed) Dittmer of Delta, CO, and Annette Steiner of New Brighton, besides other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Celeste in 2013; one son, Patrick in 1989 and one sister in infancy, Delores.