Gordon Thureen, 93, died at home in Minneapolis on July 1. Gordy was born on October 9, 1928 to Oscar and Clara Thureen on the family farm in rural East Grand Forks, where he grew up.
Gordy and his siblings attended an eight-grade elementary school at 46 Sunnyside District one-room schoolhouse, a 1 1/2 mile walk across fields. When they came home from school in the afternoon, their crow was always waiting to escort them back to the yard. After completing elementary school, Gordy studied to prepare for Confirmation and made his creed. For high school, he enrolled at Northwest Agricultural College in Crookston, which allowed him to attend classes for six months and work on the farm the rest of the year. After graduating, he was drafted into the army to serve during the Korean conflict. After basic training, Gordy was selected and trained to serve as a special agent in the CIC (The Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps), live in safe houses, and wear a suit while pursuing spies in and around Frankfurt, Germany…a biographical detail he did not find him interesting enough to reveal to his wife and children well into the 80’s.
After completing his military service, Gordy returned to the farm, where he and his brother Orville were bachelor farmers for the next 25 years. In 1973, Gordy took a short break from farming to travel to Europe with Brother Al’s daughter, Patti, who was studying French at UND. They visited Thureen’s relatives in Sweden before coming to France, where Patti would study for the summer and Uncle Gordy would fly back to resume his role as Bachelor Farmer. They were walking around the Louvre when Patti recognized a familiar face from the Red River Valley, her French professor. “Mademoiselle Dyrud, this is my Uncle Gordy.” Gordy and Faythe were married on June 21, 1975 at Harvey & Myrtle Dyrud Farm between Newfolden and Thief River Falls, MN. A year later daughter Rachel was born and two years later son Paul completed their family. As the kids grew, Itasca State Park became a popular vacation spot. Later, her college towns of Northfield, MN and Poughkeepsie, NY became destinations for family activities. When grandson Leo joined the family, Gordy and Faythe often flew to New York City.
Both before and after the marriage, Gordy was involved in community and church activities. For years he served on the Northland Township Board and on the Bethany Parish Council. Gordy and Faythe were co-delegates at NW MN synodal conferences. They also hosted thureens and dyruds at annual Thanksgiving gatherings and Norwegian students at Christmas parties, where they learned to make lefse and sing Norwegian Christmas carols around the tree.
Gordy had an excellent lifelong memory and enjoyed writing and sharing his memories, neatly handwritten on yellow lined chalkboard paper:
“We were four siblings. Orv, the eldest, was a farmer when he was 10 years old. Al and I, then Clarice, followed two years apart. Clarice was busy with her kittens while Al and I harnessed the dog to pull us into the wagon. One day, while Mom’s Uncle Thomas Flatten was driving home from a visit, Al and I decided to tie our car up behind his buggy and ride with him. The horse obviously didn’t like our squeaky wagon. I’m sure it was the fastest run he’s ever done and the wildest ride we’ve ever had.”
Also crammed into Gordy’s yellow boards: countless jokes, poems, haikus, and tiny plays of his invention:
The Spelling Bee
Moderator: The word is CIRTUPTULOUS.
Student: May I have a definition, please.
Moderator: The act of being circupt.
Student: Please use it in one sentence.
Moderator: Isn’t she cirtuptulous!
Special thanks to the nurses at Methodist Hospital Home Health; Occupational and physical therapists and support staff for coming to our home and working so kindly and patiently with Gordy and with those of us who were caregivers. Thank you also to the hospice staff who did everything they could to make the last few weeks of Gordy’s life comfortable.
Gordy was very loved by relatives and friends. Here’s a message from nephew Alex, son of Gordy and Faythe’s Paris matchmaker. “Uncle Gordy took a deep delight in him, like a fountain that flowed far, far underground. When you spoke to him, you could see that his easy smile and his jokes were nothing on the surface, but seemed to come from his soul, the core of his being.”
Gordy was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Orville and Allen, and sister Clarice. He is left by his beloved wife Faythe, son Paul (Hanna Cheek), daughter Rachel, grandson Leo Portner, many close relatives and special friends from Bethany and ECLC parishes and the Loring Way Condominium.
Memorial Service, Edina Community Lutheran Church, Thursday, September 1, 2:00 p.m., with attendance one hour before. Lunch after the service.
Funeral Service, Bethany Lutheran Church, East Grand Forks, MN. Sat., 10.9., 1 p.m., followed by lunch and church visit.
In lieu of flowers, commemorative gifts to ECLC or Bethany Lutheran or a charity of the donor’s choice are preferred.