Shirley Anne Thieszen was born February 29, 1936, to Ben and Susie Goertzen at Mt. Lake, Minnesota. She passed away March 1, 2014, at the age of 78 years, in her home in North Newton, Kansas.
Shirley attended elementary and high school in Mountain Lake, and was baptized there at age 15 at Bethel Mennonite Church. After completing a bachelor’s degree in education at Goshen College, she went with a good friend to Ohio to teach elementary school. She then attended Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, where she met Marvin Thieszen. They were married December 28, 1962. They spent the first years of their marriage in Chicago, then moved back to Elkhart, Indiana. Shirley continued to teach elementary school until a daughter, Stacy, was born in 1967, and a son, Mark, in 1970. She enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom while her children were young.
In 1970 the family moved to Freeman, South Dakota, and in 1975 they moved to Lakin, Kansas. Shirley earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Emporia State University and worked as the Lakin Grade School librarian. As a librarian, she touched the lives of many children, bringing them the gift of stories and finding joy in reading and books. She retired in 1997. Shirley and Marvin were active members of the Garden Valley Church in Garden City, Kansas, where Shirley also managed the church library.
Shirley went on a number of mission visits to India, where she served by bringing order to the library at Centenary Mennonite Brethren Bible College at Shamshabad, India. These trips offered the opportunity to enjoy her love of travel and to make many new friends. She took great pleasure in both the adventures she had and the connections she made. She also enjoyed hosting meals in her home, playing Scrabble and other games with family and friends, reading, gardening, and trips to the Colorado mountains. She greeted the birth of two grandsons, in 2003 and 2008, with great joy and anticipation.
Shirley and Marvin moved to North Newton, Kansas, in 2007. Together, they enjoyed concerts at Bethel College, getting involved in the Bethel College Mennonite Church, being closer to family members, connecting with old friends and making new ones. In the last few years of her life, dementia brought with it many unwelcome changes, but her warm smile, her sense of humor, and her affection for her family never left her.
She is survived by her husband, Marvin Thieszen; a daughter, Stacy Thieszen of Minneapolis, Minnesota; a son, Mark Thieszen of North Newton; a sister, Joyce Krehbiel and spouse Larry of Kingman, Kansas; and a brother, Rodney Goertzen and spouse Mary of Mt. Lake, Minnesota; as well as two grandsons, Kai and Soren Thieszen.
Memorial service will be 10:30 a.m., Monday, March 10, 2014 at Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton, Kansas with Pastor’s Heidi Regier Kreider and Susan Wheeler presiding. Visitation with family present will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday March 9, 2014 at Petersen Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Newton Health Ministries Clinic in care of Petersen Funeral Home.