Verna M. Thieke, 74, of rural Elgin,MN, died suddenly on (March 13, 2020) from complications of an aortic aneurysm at Mayo Clinic Rochester - St. Mary’s Campus.
Verna Marie Baier was born on March 16, 1945 on the family farm in Jordan Twsp, Fillmore County, MN to Louie and Mildred(Drinkall) Baier. She grew up on the family farm in rural Chatfield, MN, attended school and graduated from Chatfield H.S. in 1962. She was employed at Root River State Bank in Chatfield before entering college at Mankato State University where she received her Associates Degree. Verna was married on November 30, 1963 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chatfield to James D. Thieke. Following their marriage, the couple lived in Mankato and then Rochester where Jim was employed at Standard Lumber as an assistant manager. After moving to Stewartville,MN in 1972 , the couple began building homes as JD Construction, which was managed by Verna. They raised their daughters and made their home in Stewartville for a number of years. Verna continued her education, commuting to Winona State where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Elementary Ed. in 1975. She began substitute teaching in the Stewartville and Rochester area school districts. Verna’s passion for young children began her career with Children’s World, where she opened and directed both centers in Rochester. She was a validator for the National Association for Educator of Young Children (NAEYC), where she helped centers around the country in their accreditation process. In 1991, Verna and Jim bought a homestead in rural Elgin, where they farmed, raised horses and livestock and have continued to make their home. Verna retired from Children’s World in 2006. Jim was a longtime employee in sales for National Gypsum until his retirement in 2004. Verna was a past member of Zion Lutheran Church in Stewartville where she taught Sunday school, volunteered with it’s Ladies Aid and church events and also delivered Meals on Wheels. The Thieke’s loved raising horses and Verna was an accomplished horse driver of buggy and wagon, both competitively and for fun in area parades. She was an avid reader, enjoyed gardening and canning, feeding and watching birds, antiquing and was a faithful Vikings fan. Verna enjoyed visiting with friends and loved time spent with her family, especially her grandchildren.
Verna is survived by her husband of 57 years – Jim; 2 daughters – Jana(Andy) Maier of rural Stephens Point, WI and Jacqueline(Joseph Clough) of rural Elgin; 4 grandchildren – Paige(Jordan) Schumacher of Phoenix, AZ, Nathaniel ThiekeClough of Duluth, MN, Daniel Maier of Blaine, MN and Kaysha Maier of Wisconsin; 1 sister – Donna(Merlin) Cramer of Chatfield and 1 brother – Kenny Baier of Zumbrota, MN; sister-in-law - Jeanette(Gary) Hughes of Chatfield; 3 brothers – in - law – Rick Thieke(Suzanne Thieke), Larry(Marsha) Thieke and Michael(Pam) Thieke all of Chatfield, MN and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents.
In keeping with Verna’s wishes no services or visitation are planned at this time. A private family burial will take place at a later date. The Thieke Family suggests memorials to the Special Olympics, an organization dear to Verna’s heart. In Verna’s last wishes as a donor, she was able to help others continue their lives. Arrangements are with Griffin-Gray F.H. in Stewartville. Condolences and memories of Verna are welcome at www.griffin-gray.com
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