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Reverend LaReau N. Thorwall, 91, of Rockford, passed away on August 3, 2017. He was born August 24, 1925, in Wyanett, Minnesota, the son of Pastor Evangelist Axel J. and Millicent (Lofdahl) Thorwall. LaReau married Wanda Merle Jebe on February 27, 1948 during a blizzard in Minneapolis, MN. That snowy night was the beginning of 69 years of marriage, 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.
LaReau was a graduate of Trinity Seminary (now Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). He pastored Evangelical Free Churches (EFCA) in Iowa, Illinois, Colorado, Nebraska and California and served the EFCA at the national level on numerous boards and in other leadership roles. He was District Superintendent of the North Central District of the EFCA and then completed his years of ministry as Vice President for Chaplain Services at Elim Care, Inc. He finally retired in 1998 at the age of 73, but even then, his love for ministry kept him active through teaching, guest speaking, and serving on boards well into his 80's.
Family and friends remember LaReau best as a shepherding pastor and servant leader who also loved silly jokes, ice cream, and laughter. He was an encourager and team-builder. He had a gift for mentoring and affirming young pastors. He loved young people and they loved him back. He loved planning, big ideas, bringing a church or ministry to the next level. Almost every church he served launched a major building project under his leadership. He believed with his whole heart the Good News he preached and he loved the God he served.
LaReau is survived by his beloved wife, Wanda Merle; sister, Carolyn Anderson; sons, Brenton L. (Vicki) and Kevan L. (Liz) Thorwall; daughter, Jocelyn L. (Tim) Shaffer; grandchildren, Kara, Drew (Melissa), Sean, Jason (Jennifer), Britt (Andrew Faris) and Morgan; great-grandchildren, Belle, Axel, Obed, Simeon, Brooke and Alexa. Predeceased by parents; brother, Gordon; sister, Millicent Knudsen.
Memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, August 14, 2017, at Fairhaven Christian Retirement Chapel, 3470 N. Alpine Rd., Rockford, IL 61114. Visitation will be prior to the service at 1:00 p.m. at Fairhaven. Private graveside service.
In lieu of any gifts or flowers, donations may be made to TEDS (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), memo line: "A.J. Thorwall Memorial Scholarship Award" and mailed to: 2065 Half Day Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015. Or donations may be made online at

Condolences & Shared Memories (1)

  1. Roland and Jeri Peterson

    Dear Thorwall family...we were saddened to hear the news of the passing of Pastor LaReau. We have so many memories of all of you. Our years together in Lincoln were great. Even the Sunday afternoon visits of Brent and Kevan, when all of a sudden we were invaded. We are thinking of you and pray that God will give you strength for this time of loss. It would be great to see you all but we guess that will have to wait. We are doing fine. Still in Minnesota and have not moved but Pete is totally retired from the U of M. Pastor LaReau left a real legacy for all of us. Our love...Jeri and Pete

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