Carl David Thieszen was born July 21, 1929 on the family farm in rural Henderson, Nebraska. He was the second of six children of Daniel and Marie J. (Epp) Thieszen. He died December 2, 2020 at Presbyterian Manor (Newton, KS) with his loving wife, Louise and daughter, Sharon at his side.
Carl’s family farmed and engaged in the land leveling business in Nebraska. Their family was the first of three families to begin irrigation in the Henderson community. His early school experience was in rural School District 73 East. After attending a one-room school for eight years, Carl attended bible school for a year before attending Henderson High School. During his high school years, Carl participated in basketball, softball, track, student council, including president, glee club, boys’ octet, dramatics, and helped lead other student organizations. He graduated in 1948. After high school he worked on the family farm and helped with the land leveling business.
Carl attended Freeman Junior College for one year before serving in the alternative Selective Service 1W Program for 27 months at the Wiltwyck School for Boys in Esopus, NY. At this agency he worked with delinquent boys between the ages of eight and twelve. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) had a long history with this agency which did not use physical force to discipline. After his service, Carl attended Bethel College, graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies in 1957. Carl was active in student leadership and council. He also volunteered drilling water wells in Mexico.
Following graduation, he taught elementary and secondary students in Walton, KS. While teaching at Walton, Carl met Louise Dick of Ruthven, Ontario while she was completing her BS degree in social science at Bethel College. Carl and Louise were married on August 11, 1962 at the North Leamington United Mennonite Church, Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Their first home together was in Ransom, KS. Carl attended Fort Hays State University and completed his Master’s Degree in Education and certificate in school administration. During 17 years in western Kansas, Carl served the schools in Brownell, Arnold and Ransom as teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. Carl was an active member in the First Mennonite Church of Ransom, local Lions Club and Chess and Pinochle groups. He enjoyed the outdoors, taking his family on hiking trips to the scenic Castle Rock in the Badlands of western Kansas.
In 1976 Carl and his family moved to Little River, KS where Carl was superintendent of USD 444 for 15 years. In addition to leading the school district, Carl was active in the local Lions club, volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Service and MCC annual relief sale. He was active with his children’s 4-H, science fair projects, sporting, and extracurricular events. During his time in Little River, Carl was an active member of the First Mennonite Church in McPherson. In his spare time, Carl enjoyed woodworking, landscaping, and beekeeping.
In 1991, Carl and Louise retired and moved to North Newton, KS where they built their current home on Bluestem Court. After a year in retirement, Carl accepted the call to serve as the principal and superintendent for the schools in Goessel, KS for two years. Carl’s career as an educator and facilitator of learning encompassed many changes, including school unification, full inclusion of women (Title IX), and children with disabilities (EHA; IDEA).
During retirement, Carl gave generously of his time and talents with organizations such as Bethel College Mennonite Church, Tenth Man (now called JoinHands church building program), MCC House Against Hunger, Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, M2 Prison Visitation, and local homeless shelter. Carl’s passion for education led him to serve as a docent at Kauffman Museum and as a tour director for Prudent Tours. Carl enjoyed biking and spending time with immediate and extended family. Beginning in 2002 at age 73, he completed his first Biking Across Kansas ride; he continued to participate until age 83.
Carl exemplified servant leadership. Throughout his life, Carl shared his belief of redemption, mercy and grace through his actions and deeds. While ordered and intentional, Carl addressed disciplinary issues with dialogue, teaching and kindness. He also never stopped seeking new knowledge and greater understanding, reading, studying, listening and growing throughout his life.
Carl’s faith was important to him which he shared with his family through daily devotions and weekly church and Sunday School. He would often recite Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” He enjoyed hymnal music and singing, often breaking out in song. A few of his favorites were Shall We Gather at the River, Amazing Grace, and Praise God, from whom all blessings flow (Hymn 606).
Carl is survived by his wife Louise (Dick) Thieszen of North Newton, KS; son Robert Thieszen (JoAn Waltner) of Newton, KS and granddaughter Maura of Overland Park, KS; daughter Carol Thieszen-Culp and grandsons Jordan and Carter Culp of Sheboygan, WI; and daughter Sharon Thieszen of Sheboygan, WI. He is also survived by his siblings Harold (Esther) Thieszen, Rosella (John) Schwartz, Edna Galle, Marvin Thieszen, and sister-in-law Erna Thieszen.
He is preceded in death by his infant son Roger Thieszen, his parents, brother Aldon Thieszen, brother-in-law Karma Galle, and sister-in-law Shirley Thieszen.
The family would like to give a special thank you to the staff of Presbyterian Manor and Heart and Soul Hospice for their loving and compassionate care given to Carl, a beloved husband, father and grandfather.
Carl will be interred at Bethel College Mennonite Church. A private memorial service will be held. Plans to celebrate Carl’s life will be announced at a later date.
Memorials in Carl’s name may be made to Mennonite Central Committee or Bethel College in care of Petersen Funeral Home, 215 N. Main, Newton, KS 67114 or https://petersenfamilyfuneralhome.com
As a way of continuing Carl’s legacy of care, leadership and volunteerism, we encourage everyone to find ways to continue to be more compassionate, love one another and embrace the challenge to be servant leaders in our communities.
So sorry Louise and family
Honors to a great man. My father, Ralph Kenworthy, was blessed to have Mr. Theiszen as a mentor and friend during their mutual years in Ransom. Condolences, peace, and grace and to the Theiszen family.
I was very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Reading about his life was truly moving. He was an amazing man who lived an admirable life. I know how much you loved and respected him because you spoke about him often and your feelings for him were written all over your face every time. Please give my condolences to your mother and the rest of your family. I wish you peace.
He was a cool principal, teacher, coach he was really missed when he left ransom.
A wonderful man and great asset to the Ransom community. I remember him well from USD-302 and the First Mennonitte Church of Ransom. My condolences to the family.
I was a teacher and later a principal under Carl at Little River from 1976 – 1985. Carl was an extremely humble person and always acted in the best interests of the district. Shari and I enjoyed our opportunity to know Carl and family during the time we shared in Liittle River. Our condolences to Louise and the Thieszen family during this time.
Mr. Thieszen was a class act. My father had a great deal of respect for him, and he was known to be a fair and reasonable authority figure among us students. I am holding his entire family close to my heart.
Thinking of all of you.
Mr. Theiszen was my teacher many years ago in Brownell. I remember he was a very kind person and really worked hard at teaching all his students. May he rest in peace. (Marye Pavlu)
Sharon, so sorry to hear of the loss of your Father. I know how close you were to him and all your special Bike Across Kansas trips together. Sending prayers and condolences to your entire family. All the great memories will last forever and he will be right along side you forever.
Dear Thieszen family,
Your dad and your family are in my thoughts often as we have a number of neighborhood kids who enjoy playing in our yard. It reminds me of how patient Carl was and you, Louise were to have your neighborhood kids spend so much time there. Protected, fed, prayed for, LOVED. Thank you for everything and look forward to seeing you again one day praise Jesus.
When a person has had a significant impact on one’s life, it is difficult to find the words to express what they have meant to you. That is the case with Carl. I remember fondly how he helped me build my bass guitar in his basement. I remember how welcoming he was to this weird guy with the long hair (me). I remember how we would chuckle around faspa, while he regaled us with all of the specific details of his of his bike ride or the minutiae of his budget for the church. 😉 I remember seeing him after he had rode his bike across Kansas with his daughter Sharon, and wishing I had calves like him! I remember how proud he was when she made a quilt of their t-shirts for 10 years of riding. And remember how totally cool he looked in that high school long jump photo. But what I most remember is how he showed me how one could be a religious and a thinking man at the same time. I was inspired by not only the mission of “The Tenth Man”, but the history of it that he told me about. And I was inspired by how he was always open to new ideas. The world is better for having Carl in it, and I am a better person for having known him.