Thomsen, Mark William was born February 24, 1931, in Owatonna, MN, and died peacefully on January 20, 2014, surrounded by loving family in Wautoma, WI following a three-month battle with cancer. For the last four years, he, his beloved wife of 61 years Mary Lou (Kafer), daughter Sheree and granddaughter Lily called a former Amish farm home. Mark loved the farm, growing a garden, raising chickens and sheep, and being Lily's "Best Barbie-Playing Grandpa Ever." Mark spent much of his youth in central Wisconsin. He lived in Poy Sippi and met Mary Lou at Berlin High School ('49). He then attended Dana College in Blair, NE, and, in 1952, married Mary Lou and earned his BA. Once dubbed "Triple Threat Thomsen" for his prowess on the football field, he traded in his athletic aspirations for a higher calling. Mark received a divinity degree in 1956; ordination in 1957; Masters of Divinity at Princeton in 1957; and on July 4 that year, sailed to Lagos, Nigeria, with Mary Lou and son Mark. He taught at the Secondary School in Numan; served as principal of the Lutheran Seminary in Lamurde (starting the first English-speaking seminary for the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria); then from 1959-1966 was the academic dean of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria in Bukuru. Now with four children, Mark and Mary Lou returned to Dana College where Mark taught until 1972. He completed his PhD in 1971, aided by Mary Lou's typing and editing skills. Mark then moved his family to Dubuque, IA, where he was the pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church; to St. Paul, MN to teach at Luther Seminary; to Minneapolis to become the ALC's Director of the Division of World Mission and Inter-Church Cooperation; to Chicago, IL, to become Executive Director of Global Mission of the ELCA, then Director of PhD/ThM studies at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and finally Director of the Chicago Center for Global Ministries. His travels took him to over 40 countries, which Mary Lou kept track of on a bed sheet hanging in a doorway at home. Mark and Mary Lou ended up within 50 miles of where they met, but enjoyed winters in Rio Verde, AZ, in a house built by son Derek. Still athletic, Mark ran in the Wisconsin Senior Olympics, qualifying for Nationals in 2010. Mark was preceded in death by his father, Jens Harry Thomsen, mother Helene Ragna (Hansen), step-mother Martha (Mortensen) and granddaughter, Mary Rose Thomsen-Keller. He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou, son Mark and Grace (Swanson) of Milwaukee, WI; son Derek and Vicki (Burch) of Phoenix, AZ; daughter Sandee and David Lyons of Des Moines, IA; daughter Sheree Thomsen of Wautoma; sister Carol and Keith Skogman of Seguin, TX; brother Jim and Barb of Madison, WI; and brother Don and Andrea Thomsen of Englewood, CO. He is also survived by 8 grandchildren; Sonja Thomsen-Oulahan, Drew Thomsen, Chelsea McGarvey, Jens Thomsen, Mathew Thomsen, Maureen Lyons, Hannah Lyons and Lily Thomsen-Keller; four great-grandchildren; numerous cousins; and many dear friends. A Memorial Service will be held February 15, 2014 at Hope Lutheran Church, Wautoma, WI, with visitation beginning at 12PM and service at 2PM. Memorials may be made payable to "ELCA Global Church Sponsorship" at P.O. Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1764 or community.elca.org/…. Leikness Funeral Home, Wautoma is assisting the family with arrangements. wautomafuneralhome.com

Published on January 23, 2014


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