LINCOLN — Steven C. Thelen, 69, of Lincoln died peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Monday, July 29, 2019.
A celebration of Steve’s life will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday at First Plymouth Congregational Church, 2000 D St., Lincoln, with the Rev. Dr. Jim Keck officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Capital Humane Society, 6500 S. 70th St., Lincoln, NE 68516 (www.capitalhumanesociety.org); or The Crane Trust, 9325 S. Alda Rd., Wood River, NE 68883 (www.cranetrust.org).
He was a beloved and devoted husband, father, brother and friend to many. His life was exemplified by his love for people. Steve was born on May 2, 1950, to Leo and Virginia (Goble) Thelen of Wood River.
He loved telling stories about growing up in small-town Nebraska alongside his two brothers, Pat and Chris, and all their friends. He recalled fond memories of playing endless sandlot sports, and legend has it that he was the all-time backyard QB of Wood River. He reminisced about swimming in the Platte River, going to movies in Grand Island, working at Thelen Grain Co., and taking the train with his family to numerous destinations.
He lettered as a multi-sport athlete at Wood River High School (Class of ’68). He excelled as the Eagles’ All-State receiver/defensive back, as well as point guard for the basketball team. Steve attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received a B.A. in Geography and Latin American Studies.
While at UNL, he coached and mentored at-risk youths as a recreation supervisor at Nebraska Center for Children and Youth (Whitehall) in Lincoln. There he met his future wife, Janis (Geu) of Sidney. They were married on July 12, 1975, at Johnson Lake, near Lexington, where his parents and family enjoyed many fun summers at their cabin.
Following graduation, Steve was a sales representative for Nebraska Typewriter Company of Lincoln and enjoyed traveling throughout southeast Nebraska outfitting community businesses, schools and churches with the latest technology of the time, including electric typewriters, printers and copiers. In 1984, he began his 35-year career with HOME Real Estate. He relished the camaraderie and hijinks with his co-workers and found great satisfaction in finding the perfect home for his clients. Despite his work as a Realtor, he and Jan remained in the same home since 1978 and developed lifelong friendships with their wonderful neighbors on 26th Street.
Steve was a lifelong Husker fan and loved following the careers of many Husker legends and other sports heroes. He never forgot a name or a face, and never met a stranger. He enjoyed fishing, traveling, cooking, gardening and was a religious golfer. Nothing made him happier than hitting the green every Friday afternoon with his loyal band of golf buddies. His soups were legendary — chili, pozole, chicken noodle, ham & bean — as well as his famous shredded Italian beef for Husker tailgates. He especially loved the people and cultures of Mexico and Ireland, two of his favorite travel destinations.
Steve dealt with his cancer the same way he lived his life: with courage, humility, humor and acceptance.
Those left to cherish his memory are his wife, Jan; son, Andrew of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; daughter, Joanie (Dr. John) Huebner of Kansas City, Mo; brother, Patrick of Overland Park, Kan.; brother, Christopher (Torry) of Wood River; sister-in-law, Pamela Lay of Hastings; brother-in-law, Thomas (Carol) Geu of Vermillion, S.D.; nieces, nephews, cousins and friends too numerous to count. He will be sorely missed by his constant kitty companions, Little Pea and Penny Lou.
Steve was preceded in death by his mother, Virginia; father, Leo; father-in-law, Earl Geu of Sidney; and sister-in-law, Marlene Thelen of Overland Park, Kan.