Judith “Judy” Katherine Hirsch Thelen, born on May 19, 1948, in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, passed away on July 10, 2019, in Aurora, Colorado, after an extended rare illness.
A celebration service of Judy’s life will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave., in Billings. A reception will be held in the Knights Room of the Billings Elks Lodge #394 following the service.
Survivors include her husband of 44 years, Dave Thelen of Billings; daughter, Kara (Andrew) Nisbet of Puyallup, Washington; sisters Mary Barajas of Pahrump, Nevada, and Helen (Chuck) Bebout of Spring Hill, Florida; brother, Jim (Maggie) Hirsch of Tucson, Arizona; and numerous sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews. Judy’s parents, Eddie and Winnie Hirsch of Vergas, Minnesota, preceded her in death, as well as did her son, Greg Thelen of Billings, in 2018.
Judy grew up in Vergas, receiving her education there and in Frazee, Minnesota. Upon graduation, Judy followed her two sisters to Great Falls, where she met and then married Dave Thelen in 1975. Judy was a devoted wife, mother and rock of the Thelen family while living in Conrad and Butte, Montana, and Williston, North Dakota, before settling down in Billings in 1997. While raising their two children, Judy worked at a variety of companies in every town they lived. She specifically enjoyed working at the Columbus Hospital in Great Falls for 17 years, which produced many stories and lifelong friendships.
Judy enjoyed spending time with her husband, children and extended family, taking many road trips to wherever they were located at the time, always making sure to stop by a lake or a casino along the way, preferably both. She would often be the one in any group to “win big bucks.” Throughout her life, Judy also enjoyed swimming in Minnesota’s many lakes as a young girl, being in bowling leagues with and while meeting Dave and watching both Days of Our Lives every weekday for 40-plus years and Dancing with the Stars for many seasons. In recent years, she could often be found alongside Dave feeding the ducks at Riverfront Park, going to concerts at the Metra and listening to country music while going on rides around town and Montana.
Judy will be remembered for her love of her family, her complete devotion to her husband, her unwavering support of her children, her kindness and quiet humor, her playful spirit and her tenacious resolve and strength throughout years of numerous diseases that included rheumatoid arthritis, which she continued to live a full life with; breast cancer, which she caught early and beat; and calciphylaxis, which was very rare and ultimately her last.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Judy’s name to the American Diabetes Association or the Arthritis Foundation would be greatly appreciated.