Thelen, Gary Arthur


Gary Arthur Thelen, age 53, of Elba, Minn., died early Tuesday morning, December 11, 2012, at his residence in Whitewater Valley after a hard fought battle with cancer.

Gary was born on December 8, 1959, to his beloved parents, Arthur George Thelen and Mavis Ilene Thelen in Winona. He grew up and attended Winona Senior High, where he enjoyed football and wrestling. After graduating, Gary worked for Burlington Northern Railroad for a number of years. Later, Gary went into business for himself doing concrete, masonry work, and refurbishing old barn wood. He used his creative abilities of masonry and refurbishing wood to build one-of-a kind cabins, home additions, and remodels.

With his instilled and developed love for the outdoors, Gary had a strong desire for hunting, fishing, morel hunting, shed hunting, and digging ginseng with close friends. One of the places he adored the most was the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota, where he spent a great deal of time camping and fishing for walleye. His passions for the outdoors eventually drove him to obtain land in the Whitewater Valley, where he built a stone house and started the Wilderness Campground to share his love and talent for the outdoors. He cherished his relationships with others and nature for which he had a strong compassion to relate. One of his greatest horizons he crossed with nature was the friendship he developed with a deer he called “Buddy”. He will be dearly missed and his love will always be remembered and reflected in the relationships he held with nature and man.

He is preceded in death by his father, Arthur George Thelen.

Gary is survived by his mother, Mavis Ilene Thelen of Winona; his three brothers, Thomas Peter Thelen (Diane), Timothy Allen Thelen (Lynn), Richard Osiowhemu (Cindy); sister, Denise Colleen Fuentes–Thelen; four children, Jessica Rae Thelen (Ian), Gary Arthur Thelen Jr. (Crystal); Anthony Leroy Thelen (Alesha), Cody William Thelen; two grandchildren, Masion Ray Thelen, Xander Leroy Thelen; past wife, Robin Rae Thelen; mother of Cody, Jean Catherine Meyer; special friends, Suzanne Oevering, Jana Hartzell; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, 2012, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Winona. The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Green will officiate.

Visitation will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, December 15, 2012, from noon until the time of the service.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Gary’s family at

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