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Obituary

Rolf A. Thienemann, Jr., 86, of Rockford, passed away Sunday, August 20, 2017 in the company of his family. Rolf succumbed to an aggressive brain cancer that was diagnosed in December of last year. Born in Chicago in 1931, Rolf was the son of Rolf A. Thienemann, Sr. and Margaret (Zohm) Thienemann. Rolf graduated from Amundsen High School in Chicago, and Beloit College, where he met the girl that he would marry and spend the rest of his life with, Margaret Powell. After college, Rolf joined the army, and he and "Maggie" moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky where Rolf was stationed. Upon discharge, Rolf, Maggie, and their new baby daughter, Margo moved to Maggie's home town of Rockford, where Rolf began a long career at Muller Pinehurst Dairy, the business founded by Maggie's grandfather, L. Fred Muller. Rolf's first position at Muller's was as a route man, delivering Muller's products to homes and businesses throughout the area. Throughout the years Rolf worked a variety of jobs at the dairy, finally serving as President and General Manager from 1981 to 1993. Unwilling to retire when he left the Dairy, Rolf went to work at Furst Group/Furst Transitions where he served as a Vice President and provided outplacement counseling to people working through the process of re-establishing their careers.
Rolf loved his adopted city of Rockford, and was very active in the community. In 1978, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Commissioners of the Rockford Park District. When his first term expired, Rolf won an election campaign to retain his seat, and he held that seat continuously until he stepped down in 1997. During those 19 years on the Park Board, Rolf served as its President from 1981 to 1986, and again from 1989 to 1992. He also served on the boards of the Jaycees, the Easter Seals, City National Bank, Rockford Memorial Hospital, the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, the Illinois Humanities Council, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra (President '76-'77), the Coronado Performing Arts Center, and the Rockford Dance Company. At the time of his passing, Rolf was serving his 17th year on the board of the Burpee Museum of Natural History, and his 20th year on the board of the Rockford Park District Foundation. He was also the longest-serving member of Rockford Downtown Rotary, where he was past-president, a Paul Harris Fellow, and a recipient of the Service Above Self award.
In addition to being a dedicated family-man, Rolf loved golfing, playing tennis, and photography, and he had a deep fascination with all of the natural sciences, especially astronomy. In 1976, Rolf played the role of John Hancock in Starlight Theatre's production of "1776", directed by Ted Bacino. He got to sing one big line in that role, and he delivered it with gusto at each performance. "That is true - he annoys me quite a lot - but still I'd rather trot - to Mr. Adams new gavotte!" Rolf was well known for his wit and humor, and he touched the lives of nearly everyone he met.
Rolf is survived by his wife, "Maggie"; daughters Dr. Margo Thienemann (Mike Sherwood) of Mountain View, California, Dana Smith (Peter) of Tucson, Arizona; and son Rolf "Trip" Thienemann (Leslie Krenik) of Rockford; grandchildren Meredith and Martha Kate Harding, and Hap and Willie Thienemann.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 16, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner Street, Rockford, IL with Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson officiating. Memorial visitation will be held prior to the service from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in the church. The family wishes to extend their grateful thanks to Serenity Hospice and Home, Oregon, Illinois, for their care and compassion during Rolf's final days. Gifts may be made to the general endowment at Beloit College. Olson Funeral & Cremation Services, Ltd., assisted the family with arrangements.

Condolences & Shared Memories (5)

  1. Dave Wiemer

    Years ago I was staff at the Park District. Never knew such a fine gentleman. He will be missed by all. dw

  2. Karin Kellogg

    I had the pleasure of working with Rolf through the Park District. I was always impressed with his kindness and his quick wit. He made a big impact to many people in the community. Sincerely, Karin Kellogg

  3. Craig and Terri Lindmark

    Dear Rolf's Family, We are saddened at your loss. It was an inspiration to us to see Rolf always working with positives in word and deed. Rolf was known to be the leader that could draw groups together to get worthwhile community projects done--all with a smile and good feeling amongst all. Take time to remember all the special times shared! Respectfully, Craig and Terri Lindmark

  4. Ben Healy

    Dear Maggie, Margo, Dana, and Trip...Rolf was a wonderful person. I admired his many virtues which I tried to mimic, except when I didn't (a hard act to follow, so to speak). With me, he was patient and kind and pleasant and he had a thirst for knowledge. The world has lost a man who was a model of what it is to be a concerned and informed citizen..I will miss him .

  5. Tom and Kay Glenny

    Maggie, We are so sorry about Rolf's passing and know how very sad you must be. Trusting that he is a peace now and pain free. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. In sympathy, Tom and Kay


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