Eugene ‘Euch’ Thelen


Port Washington native Eugene K. Thelen had a deep-seated love of his country.

When he was 16, he got his parents’ blessing and enlisted in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II.

He served in the Navy for three years, then left the service for a time but things didn’t work out, his wife Betty said.

So he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving for almost 21 years. A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, he retired as a master sergeant.

“He loved it,” his wife said of his military service. “It was hard to be separated, but he enjoyed his work.”

Mr. Thelen, who was known as Euch, died Tuesday, May 15, at Cedar Lake Community in West Bend. He was 88.

Mr. Thelen was born on June 5, 1929, to Michael and Myrtle Rismeyer Thelen.

He met Betty Kolkema of West Bend at a friend’s home while on leave from the Navy, and the two married on Aug. 20, 1949, in Folkston, Ga.

After Mr. Thelen retired from the Air Force, the couple moved to Port Washington and later to Grafton, where they built their home.

Mr. Thelen worked at Wisconsin Electric Power Co., now We Energies, retiring in 1989 as the lead custodian after 20 years with the company.

He enjoyed fishing, both on Lake Michigan and inland lakes, and woodworking.

But he especially loved gardening and had a green thumb, his wife said.

“He loved planting rose bushes and caring for them,” she said. “He always had roses. He was good at it.”

He also enjoyed planting fruit trees around their house, his wife said.

“He put a lot of work into it.”

Mr. Thelen was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Grafton and St. John Lutheran Church in Port Washington, where he was a former elder and member of the Men’s Club.

He was also a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the Rose-Harms American Legion Post in Grafton.

“He was a good, loving man,” his wife said. “He was very friendly and liked to visit with people.”

Mr. Thelen was a polite man who was known for his good manners, his wife added.

“He wouldn’t get off an elevator before a lady,” she said. “All the ladies thought the best of him.”

Mr. Thelen is survived by his wife Betty of Grafton; children Peggy (John) Bemis of Altoona, Debbie (Richard) Zirbes of Chandler, Ariz., Eugene Jr. “Butch” (Cathy) of Cheyenne, Wy., and Mike (Sharon) of Saukville; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his sister Carol Gosewehr and her husband George Gosewehr.

A funeral service for Mr. Thelen was held Thursday, May 17, at St. John Lutheran Church in Port Washington. The Rev. John Klieve officiated.

Burial with military honors was at Union Cemetery, Port Washington.

Eernisse Funeral Home in Port Washington handled the arrangements.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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