Thursday, September 1, 2011

Frank C. Van Thiel, Jr.

Frank C. Van Thiel, Jr., age 94, passed away gracefully Thursday, September 1, 2011, at Wheaton Franciscan–All Saints Medical Center. Frank was born in Libertyville, IL, on August 17, 1917, son of the late Frank C. Van Thiel, Sr. and Sarah J. (nee: Martin) Van Thiel.

Frank was a proud veteran of World War II, having served as sergeant in the United States Army with the 10th Mountain Division, Battery A, 604th Field Artillery. He was wounded in Torbole, Italy, on April 30, 1945, just two days before the war’s end in Italy. He was decorated with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

On December 16, 1950, at Berwyn, IL, he was united in marriage to Juanita M. Perry, who preceded him in death on October 2, 2001, after 50 years of marriage. The couple originally resided briefly in Kenosha, where Frank was raised, but made Racine their permanent home in 1951.

Frank was employed for 50 years as an agent of the New York Life Insurance Co., retiring in 2005 at age 88. He served his clients with integrity and honesty and always put helping others ahead of making a sale. Prior to his insurance career, he was a journeyman machinist, a police officer, and sold advertising, tavern and restaurant supplies, window glass and storefronts, among other things. He joined his family in starting Van’s Gas Service, a propane business still operating in Kenosha, and was co-owner of Olson Window Sales. In his first job with Peter Pirsch & Sons Co., a fire engine manufacturer in Kenosha, he helped to build the world’s first 100-foot all-aluminum aerial extension ladder truck. Frank was a member of the Wednesday Optimist Club, a past board member of the Racine Historical Museum, past president of the Racine-Kenosha Association of Life Underwriters, and former chairman of the Heart Fund. He loved people — most of all his family — and he loved life. He will be deeply missed.

Survivors include his children, Gary W. Van Thiel and Linda G. (Scott) Olsen of Racine, Scott M. (Holly) Van Thiel of Kenosha, and John A. Van Thiel (Karen Dombrowski) of Racine; grandchildren, Steven M. and Michelle L. Therkelsen (David Bruce), Tiffany M. Blatter, Brittany M. Giombetti (Sam Vix); great-granddaughter, Natalie L. Vix; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends -- the countless lives that he’s touched. Frank was the last of five brothers, having been preceded in death by John, Robert, Charles and William Van Thiel.

Funeral services will be held Friday, September 9, 2011, at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Interment with full military honors will follow at Graceland Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet with the family Thursday at the funeral home from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. and Friday at the funeral home from 10 a.m. until time of service at 11 a.m. Memorials to Racine Special Olympics have been suggested.

803 Main St., Racine (262) 634-7888

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