Cover photo for Gwendolyn L Theisen's Obituary
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1928 Gwendolyn 2015

Gwendolyn L Theisen

November 18, 1928 — March 25, 2015

Gwendolyn "Gwen" Theisen of Park Rapids, passed away suddenly on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 with her loved ones at her side at the Essentia Health Medical Center in Fargo, ND. Gwen was born in Winthrop. MN on November 18, 1928 to Russell and Luverna (Reim) Johnson. As a child, Gwen moved with her parents to Faribault, MN where she attended public schools and grew into womanhood. Gwen was an exceptional athlete and loved participating in sports. Throughout highschool she was a member of the Girls Athletic Association and played on the Girls Basketball team. Gwen was also a standout out fast pitch softball player who played all the skilled positions on the women's summer league, where she even pitched a no hitter allowing her team, the Humphrey Elevators to win 18-0. She was even recruited by the high school Golf Coach, Ted Estabrook, to play on the Men's Golf Team, honoring Gwen's ability as the first female in the state to play on a men's high school golf team and earn a letter in that sport. She then went on to attend Mankato State University where she earned a degree in elementary education. After graduating from the University, Gwen began teaching in Mapleton, MN and continued her career in Bemidji where she met Frank Theisen in 1954. They both taught in Eden Valley, MN until 1959, and then returned to Bemidji in 1960, where Gwen substitute taught until they had their two children Bob and Deb. Gwen was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She had a great zest for life. Gwen and Frank were very involved in the family resort each summer. Then in 1972, Gwen and Frank became the owners and moved to Park Rapids permanently in 1986, and lived at Pine Park Resort on Island Lake. Here they welcomed thousands of guests, and watched generations of families return year after year to spend their vacation and celebrate special occasions with the Theisens. Enjoying a fish fry or meal at Pine Park, showcased Gwen's wonderful cooking skills. Everyone gladly accepted her hospitality, and enjoyed every minute of the fellowship, laughter and wonderful food. Participants would always be encouraged to join her for a game of Cribbage, or the latest game Gwen had just learned to share with willing participants. Sports were an important part of Gwen's life. She was one of the first women to letter in the then male sport of golf. Whether fishing for the biggest fish in the lake, golfing with her friends, setting the curling stone, or snowmobiling across the beautiful northern landscapes, she loved to be part of the action, and relished venturing a wager on the outcome. Gwen was also an avid Vikings and Twins fan. Traveling to a warmer climate, was on Gwen and Frank's calendar in recent years. They shared road trips to Texas and even flights to Hawaii to explore new locations, meet up with old friends, or make new ones. Gwen is survived by her loving husband Frank Theisen of Park Rapids; their two children, son Bob and wife Regina Theisen, of Kenai, Alaska, daughter Debra Theisen and Rick Franklin of Park Rapids; grandchildren Annalise, Jonah and Jordan Theisen. Her sister, Shirley (Stewart) Shaft of Northfield, MN and her nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her nephew, Martin Nutting Shaft. Funeral Mass will be held 11 AM Saturday, March 28, 2015 at the St. Peter Catholic Church in Park Rapids with Father Thomas Friedl officiating. The mass music will be led by the St. Mary's Catholic Choir and the organist will be Mary Schmitz. Interment will be made in the St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery of Two Inlets. Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 PM Friday evening at the Jones-Pearson Funeral Home and for one hour prior to the service at the church Saturday morning. The St. Peters Catholic Church will host a luncheon for all following the service. To view the online video tribute or to leave on line condolences please visit www.jonespearson.com.
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