Robert Paul Thiesen was born on Feb. 22, 1921, on a farm in southern Minnesota, the son of Paul and Christine Thiesen. He was the second of five children. He graduated from high school in Lakefield, Minnesota, in 1939, near the end of the Great Depression. After graduation, he spent one year assisting on the farm. He trapped muskrats, earning enough money to attend Worthington Junior College for two years. Robert was a WWII veteran who joined the Navy in 1942 and attended weather school in North Carolina. While on a weather-related mission, he survived a plane crash in Albemarle Sound. He was sent to Surinam as an aerologist on an anti-submarine blimp base.
A year later he was sent to officer’s training at Westminster College and to Midshipmen’s School at Cornell University. As an ensign, he spent a year on an anti-submarine patrol craft in the Caribbean. He had a fondness for the Navy and, after four years active duty, he spent 17 years in the Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant commander. After his discharge from the Navy, he attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with the class of 1948. His first job was with the John Deere Company in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was here that he met his future bride, Norma, a teacher. They were married June 25, 1950. They lived in North Dakota for two years, where Bob was employed by the Farmers Home Administration. Their next move was back to Minnesota, where Bob taught Veterans Agriculture and then later joined First Bank System (now US Bank) in Lakefield.
They were transferred to Montana with their three little girls aged 5, 3 and 2, in 1957 to the bank in Forsyth. They spent 27 happy years in Forsyth where Norma taught school. Their daughters graduated from MSU and MSUB. Hunting and fishing was excellent, and his many farmer and rancher friends provided him with several hunting and fishing opportunities. After 32 years, Bob retired from the bank in 1984 as Chairman and CEO. While in Forsyth, Bob was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Forsyth Country Club, Library Board, Lions Club, Doctor Procurement Committee, Girl Scouts, Forsyth TV Relay Committee and was very active in the Federated Church. After retirement, he did contract work in several Montana banks.
They moved to Billings in 1985, where he was active in the Magic City Fly Fishers, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, SCORE, and assisted in teaching fly tying and fly fishing to elementary school children and to adults. A daughter, three sons-in-laws and four grandchildren are all fly fishers. His favorite hobbies were fly fishing, landscape gardening, golf and travel.
Robert passed away on May 11, 2019.
Preceding him in death were his parents; sisters, LaVera and Delores; and brothers, James and Clayton. He is survived by his wife of 68 happy and eventful years; daughters Sandra (Paul), Debra (Mark), Roberta (Joe); grandchildren Christopher, Eric (Johnna), Jess (Renae), Kyle, Jill (Bryce), Britta (Matt) and JoAna; and great-grandsons, Logan, Anders, Boone, Oliver, Carter and future baby expected in July.
The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Friday, May 17, at First Presbyterian Church, 2420 13th St. West.
Donations may be made in Robert’s name to either the Magic City Fly Fishers, PO Box 21693, Billings, MT 59104; or to First Presbyterian Church.