Robert Thiesen


Robert Thiesen


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.

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14 thoughts on “Robert Thiesen”

  1. Mrs, Thiesen, Sandra, Debra and Roberta,
    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Mr. Thiesen. He was always such a kind man. I remember him and my dad doing to Naval reserve together.
    Thoughts and prayers as you celebrate his life.
    Karie Weamer

  2. The Thiesen family,
    I am so sorry to learn of Bob’s passing. I remember fondly many great times at the Thiesen household growing up. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    Carol Ferguson Moore

  3. Jessie and Jim Leidholt

    To the wonderful family of Bob Thiesen. Jim and I am so sorry to read of Bob’s passing. He was a wonderful man. Our first home loan was obtained when Bob was at the bank in Forsyth. Fond memories of him. Hugs to his wonderful family.

  4. Leslee Buffington

    The Thiesen family. Sorry to hear about Bob’s passing. I remember going over to the Thiesen house quite a few times when I was in grade school. Bob was such a nice man. I enjoyed being able to get to know all the Thiesens. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you.
    Leslee Buffington

  5. jackie dassinger

    Bob was the first person we met when we went to the bank when we moved to Forsyth. He graciously introduced himself and welcomed us. I had the pleasure of teaching with Norma for several years. I recall many enjoyable social gatherings (Bob made the best martini). Norma is still one of my best friends and we went through our children growing up and starting families of their own together. We will all miss Bob. He was one of a kind. So sorry for your loss, Norma and girls, but what wonderful memories to enjoy. Fondly, Jackie

  6. Gilbert Fennern

    Sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. In enjoyed working with Bob while at The First State Bank of Forsyth. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all. Gil and Dynella

  7. Pete and Charlene Grass

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We loved having Norma and Bob as members at the Hilands Golf Club for so many years. Our love to all your wonderful family. Pete and Charlene Grass

  8. Sheila Blakesley

    So sorry for your loss. My prayers will be with him and all the family members. He was a great man and did so much for so many.

  9. Sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Thiesen family!

    First met Bob in 1976 in Forsyth when as President of First Bank Forsyth he was instrumental in financial assistance for my parents Clyde & Pauline Pearson who re-opened the Forsyth Gambles Hardware store in a new location on North 7th in Forsyth. You could always spot Bob a block away when he was wearing his trademark Stetson. A few years later I became reacquainted with Bob at my job with First Bank West Billings which incidentally also employed Bob’s daughter Roberta. She and Joe lived just up the street from us for a short period of time in Billings. Roberta and her Mom made the cutest little kitchen and Christmas ‘witches’ which we still display. Several years ago in my semi-retired position of a shuttle driver for Menholt Chevrolet I had the opportunity one more time to see and visit with Bob when I gave him a shuttle ride from the dealership back home while his vehicle was in the shop. Although that shuttle ride was of a short duration Bob remembered me and we briefly reminisced one more time. It was all good!

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