Kenneth K. Thoreson

Washington Island, WI

Formally of Orfordville

Kenneth Keith Thoreson, age 86, passed away on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 in Door County Medical Center, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He was born June 25, 1934 to Kenneth Elroy and Marion (Foreman) Thoreson. He graduated from Mary D. Bradford High School, Kenosha, Wisconsin, attended UW Whitewater and UW Madison, Wisconsin. Kenneth married Marilyn Yunk on his birthday in 1955. They recently celebrated 65 years of marriage on his 86th birthday.

Ken started working on the line at GM in 1953 and became a maintenance supervisor at GM and became GM’s first substance abuse counselor in the ‘70s. While Ken was working full time at GM, Janesville, he was invited to speak at many places throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, not only about substance abuse, having grown up in a bar, but also about his new found faith in Jesus Christ. He taught Sunday school at Luther Valley Lutheran Church near Orfordville, and taught an adult Sunday school class at Orfordville Methodist Church where his daughter Keni Lynn played the organ. He and his wife, Marilyn, were Luther League Advisors first at St. Peter’s in Janesville, then at Luther Valley. He also formed a group called the Gospel Chords, playing his guitar, along with several others from the area, and introduced his “Chalk Art.”

Ken in 1974, due to all of the above, decided to further his schooling, leaving GM to attend the Association of Free Lutheran Bible School & Seminary, which he did not complete, and returned to his former position as a supervisor at GM Janesville. The Bishop of the Janesville District of the ALCA asked him to serve Albany Lutheran Church, Albany, Wisconsin on a temporary basis. Thus, he became a licensed minister with the AFLC in 1976. He was ordained by the State of Wisconsin in 1979. He was then called to serve Bethany Lutheran Church at Brodhead, Wisconsin, which he did for over 17 years while working at GM. He was then called to serve Trinity Free Lutheran Church, Janesville, Wisconsin. Thus, serving the two churches he gave up his GM employment, retiring in 1989 and went into the ministry full time after completing his seminary training by attending AFLC, two-week Summer Institute of Theology for 22 summers straight. In 1996, he accepted a call to serve Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Alma Free Lutheran Church in Argyle, Minnesota where he and Marilyn resided seven short years, leaving in 2003 to retire in Sebring, Florida. Upon arriving in Florida, he took the position of full-time minister at Tanglewood Community Church serving a community of 1,258 homes. 2015 brought them to an interim ministry in Canal Winchester, Ohio, for one year, then in September 2016 until May 2017 found them on an interim ministry tour in Gifford, Illinois. After then moving to Janesville, Wisconsin, to finally retire, he preached several times at Newark Free Lutheran Church in Newark, Illinois. He preached his last sermon there, October 2018.

Ken and Marilyn decided their last adventure was to move March 21, 2019, totally retiring at Washington Island, Wisconsin with their caregivers, son and daughter-in-law Leif and Norma. The churches that Pastor Ken served were always so gracious about allowing him time off so he could travel extensively for special evangelistic meetings using his talents and gifts throughout Canada, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Ken and son Leif traveled overseas to Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic (1994) preaching, singing and doing his “chalk art.” Ken and Marilyn again traveled to Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic two years later. And, two of Pastor Ken’s parishioners supported a website as a gift to him: which shows his art and musical talent.

Kenneth leaves behind his wife of 65 years, Marilyn; six children and an adopted daughter: Keni Lynn Christiansen, Todd Randall Thoreson (Karen) of Owen, Wisconsin, Christian Marc (Christina) of Gayleville, Alabama; Layne Thoreson of Huntington, Indiana; Leif Thoreson (Norma) of Washington Island; and Erika (Rob) Balza of Luxemburg, Wisconsin; adopted daughter, Debra Rentz, of Bemidji, Minnesota; several grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by his parents and brother, Malcolm.

He came to faith in Jesus Christ at Luther Valley Church through the teaching and nurture of The Rev Duane Bottjen and Christian friend, Leif Alseth. Kenneth will be laid to rest at East Luther Valley Cemetery, Beloit, Wisconsin. Due to Covid-19 the family has decided there will not be any funeral or committal arrangements.

Newcomer~Silverthorn Chapel on the Hill, Orfordville, Wisconsin.