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Eleanor Thilges

Kossuth County Advance - Staff Photo - Create Article


November 16, 1923 - September 25, 2022


Eleanor Thilges departed this earth on Sept. 25, 2022, at the Bird House Hospice Home in Iowa City. Mass of the Christian Burial was at 10:30 a.m.  Friday at the Divine Mercy Catholic Parish - St. Cecelia in Algona. Visitation was 4-7 p.m. Thursday at Lentz Funeral Home in Algona, with a 7 p.m. Rosary. Burial took place in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in St. Joseph. Mass will be livestreamed via Divine Mercy’s YouTube page.

Eleanor Bormann Thilges started her earthly journey through life at the farm home of her parents, Nick and Anne Schmalen Bormann on Nov. 16, 1923. She grew up on the farm and learned to do a multitude of things including gardening, cleaning chickens, herding cattle and milking cows.

Eleanor attended St. Joesph School graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1941. She next attended the American Institute of Business (AIB) in Des Moines where she became a member of the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Iota Honorary Sorority and later the Alumni Chapter. At the closing celebration of AIB in 2016, Eleanor was recognized as one of its oldest living graduates. After temporary work in The Office of the Secretary of State and other Des Moines employment, she returned to work at the Livermore State Bank.

On Feb. 19, 1946, Eleanor married her best friend and love of her life, Albert Thilges. They moved to the Riverdale township farm which had been purchased by Albert’s grandfather in 1872. After Albert’s death, Eleanor continued to manage the farm. This year at the Iowa State Fair, Eleanor and her family attended the recognition of the farm being in the family 150 years (Heritage Family Farm). Eleanor and Albert became the parents of eight children, seven daughters and one son. Eleanor was a true homemaker, an expert seamstress, sewing clothing for her and the children. There was always a large garden with vegetables to be canned and strawberries and raspberries to be frozen or made into jam. She definitely had a green thumb.

Eleanor participated in many community activities. She served on the St. Cecelia – Saint Joe School Board, held various offices in the Saint Joseph Catholic Daughters of America, was an assistant 4-H leader and an active member of the American Cancer Society. Eleanor led various Relay for Life teams and volunteered at the front desk of the Kossuth County Regional Health Center. Eleanor was the editor of the Centennial Edition Saint Joseph Parish 1876 - 1976. She diligently researched the history of the area and of her family. She had a strong interest in genealogy before it was popular.

Albert and Eleanor had 35 happy years together and traveled throughout those years visiting relatives living at a distance, several army buddies and sightseeing, However, the best trips were Sunday outings with the children, packing a picnic lunch and visiting interesting places in Iowa and neighboring states. Charlene, Paula, Michelle, Maribeth, Lynnette, Geralyn and Joel were blessed by the loving care and guidance given to them.

Eleanor continued to travel with friends including trips to Europe. Highlights included visiting the original Bormann home in Luxembourg and attending Sunday Mass where her Bormann grandfather grew up. She attended the elevation of Archbishop Daniel DiNardo to Cardinal at the Vatican in 2007. She was a lifelong learner, trying her hand at golf and enhancing her knowledge by taking classes such as computer, Luxembourg and sign language.

Eleanor was also an avid quilter. She belonged to several quilters guilds and made well over 200 quilts. She expressed her creative side by picking complimentary colors and patterns to produce great blankets of comfort and beauty. Her quilts were distributed among family and friends to be enjoyed and treasured for years to come. Every grandchild, great-grandchild, and great-great-grandchild received a baby quilt, and each grandchild has a wedding quilt even if they have not yet married. She also donated many quilts for local fund raisers.

Eleanor was first of all a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother and a friend to many. Most important to her was her family.

Left to remember Eleanor are her children: Charlene Erpelding of Phoenix, Ariz., Paula (David) Meyer of Denver, Ia.; Michelle (Mervin) Foell of Sheffield, Maribeth (James) Ahrens of Kingsville, Texas, Lynnette (Dale) Kenne of Coralville, Geralyn (Mark) Quinn of Solon and Joel (Michelle) Thilges of Ames;19 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, two step-great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren and one step-great-great-grandchild. Brother, William “Bill” (Lois) Bormann and sister Virginia “Jeanne” Laubenthal, sister in laws Bernice Thilges, Gertrude Bormann and Helen Bormann.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Albert, daughter Marcile, son-in-law, Robert Erpelding, siblings Alfred Bormann, Lorena Frideres, Maxine Knecht, Cathleen (Kit) Thilges, James Bormann, Ralph (Dick) Bormann and parents, Nick and Anna Bormann.

Thanks to the staff of The Bird House and Iowa City Hospice, who cared so lovingly for Eleanor and her family. Memorials can be made to University of Iowa Retinal Research in lieu of flowers.

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