Darlene Classen Thiessen

A private family graveside service for Darlene Classen Thiessen, 82, will be held next week at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence, Kansas. Once restrictions are lifted on gatherings in public, and dates can be determined, celebrations of her life will be held at Greenwood Terrace in Olathe, Kansas, and at the Lawrence Free Methodist Church in Lawrence, Kansas.

After courageously living with Multiple Sclerosis for over 40 years, Darlene died at her home at Greenwood Terrace on March 29, 2020. Darlene was never one to complain about her circumstances, and fought to live life to its fullest with grace, determination and a radiant smile.

Darlene was born on March 24, 1938 in Meade, Kansas. She was the oldest daughter of Dick and Katherine Isaac Classen. Darlene accepted Jesus as her Savior as a young child and re-dedicated her life to Christ when she was a freshman in high school. In June of 1952 she was baptized at the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church in Meade, Kansas.

Darlene graduated from Meade Bible Academy in 1956 and attended two years at Bethany Nazarene University. She was a member of the Lawrence Free Methodist Church. Darlene served as a pianist, organist and sang in the choirs of the churches her family attended. She found music to be an expression of God’s majesty and glory.

She was thankful for her children and grandchildren. Her highlight was attending their various activities such as recitals, track meets, award ceremonies and weddings. When talking about her grandchildren, she always had a twinkle in her eye.

Darlene taught piano lessons, worked as a bookkeeper, was involved with several restaurants and worked for JC Penney’s for almost 15 years. She went on disability in 1997 due to her Multiple Sclerosis.

Darlene lived in Lawrence, Kansas for 47 years. In 2015, she moved to Greenwood Terrace in Olathe, Kansas, to be closer to family when her mobility decreased.

Darlene was a devoted friend to many wherever she lived and continued to spread God’s word. During her final days on Earth she enjoyed listening to the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer and music of various Christian artists. Her love for God, family, friends and music was with her until the Lord called her home.

Darlene married Norman Lee Thiessen on January 17, 1959 in Meade, Kansas. He preceded her in death, as did both of her parents, her sister, Kathy Lesslie, and her brother, Larry Classen.

Darlene is survived by a son, Kevin Thiessen and his wife Marti of Rogers, AR; a daughter, Tayna Luder and husband Bob of Overland Park, KS; a sister, Connie Koesser of Meade, KS; and five grandchildren, Ryan Luder and wife Katie of Tucson, AZ, Eric Luder and wife Kelly of Joplin, MO, Emily Luder of Overland Park, KS, and Anna Thiessen and Samantha Thiessen, both of Rogers, AR.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the KU Endowment to benefit the MS Achievement Center, c/o Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

18 Condolences

  1. Carol Schaub on March 31, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    I cannot imagine losing a loved one and not being able to receive any physical comfort from others!! We are truly learning what it is to be comforted by Christ. Many people have been and will be praying for all you in Darlene’s family.

    Carol Schaub

  2. John and De Vonna Oehlert on April 1, 2020 at 7:54 am

    John and I are so sorry for your lose. She was always a breath of sunshine.
    We know she is rejoicing with the Lord.

  3. Ramona (Schott) Shepherd on April 1, 2020 at 8:00 am

    My sympathy to your family. I remember your family when you lived in Hutchinson, Kansas; and Kevin was a ringbearer in our wedding at the First Church of the Nazarene in Hutchinson. (This was in 1968!) I know how tough it is to lose our parents, but God will sustain you; we have that assurance!

  4. Libby Best on April 1, 2020 at 9:05 am

    I feel so very blessed to have known Darlene as a dear Sister in Christ. We spent many years at Thursday morning women’s bible studies at Lawrence Free Methodist Church in Lawrence and afterwards enjoying fun lunches at Jason’s Deli together. Darlene always sparkled with joy and laughter. I considered her a mentor in my life. I will be praying for all of you as you celebrate her Heavenly home going. She spoke of you all so often and was so proud of each one of you. I know she loved you dearly. I will miss her cheerful Christmas letter, but will rejoice in the assurance that she is with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  5. Todd Isaac on April 1, 2020 at 9:58 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family. I was always amazed by Darlene’s tenacity over the years living with MS. I know how much she loved he children and grandchildren. That love will be missed, but remember it stays with you in your heart and memories.

  6. Bernie Stanford on April 1, 2020 at 10:07 am

    I grew up in Meade, Ks. I have such sweet memories of the Classen family. So sorry to hear of Darlenes passing. God bless.

  7. Erin Major on April 1, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Darlene was such a beautiful person. I had the privilege of getting to know her over the past year. She had a lot of gumption and would speak her mind freely. It was always obvious that she was proud of her family. I can still picture her handing out her Christmas cards, which were a well documented newsletter about family accomplishments. Darlene just glowed that day, as she always did when talking about her family. I also remember the day she surprised me by saying she once went parasailing and loved it! Darlene will be missed. That is for sure. I pray for peace and comfort for your family during this hard time.

  8. Sheri on April 1, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Darlene was wonderfully cared for by her children. She spoke so lovingly of them and her grandchildren. She is in a glorious place now. God’s peace and blessings be with you.

  9. Ruth Mitchel on April 1, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Sheri, I loved your mother so much and admired her strength in trying any new program that had the potential of helping her physical disabilities. I feel like I know your family. She was so very proud of each accomplishment no matter who claimed it. We did lots together. She would want you to carry on with a heart full of memories to be wholly and loving human, To her whole family she would want each to heal, day by day, and to build a bridge of love that will reach far beyond time into forever.

  10. Robin Jacobsen on April 1, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear of Darlene’s passing. I so enjoyed Thursday Bible Studies at Lawrence Free Methodist with her. She was always so full of joy and so proud of her family. She loved keeping us all up to date with each of you! I loved her Christmas letters, too! I feel like I know you all! I have missed her since she moved away. I’m thrilled for her, however to be in the presence of Jesus now! My prayers are with you during this time of missing her. May your many memories comfort you, along with the assurance of seeing her again in our Heavenly home.

  11. Sue Koesser on April 2, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Connie, so sorry to read of your sister’s passing. Tom and I send our condolences to you and your family. Love, Tom & Sue Koesser

  12. Michele Uttley on April 2, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Darlene will be sorely missed. I had only known her for 9 months at MSAC. Quiet and unassuming at first, she was very capable of speaking her mind. She had gumption that wasn’t realized after first meeting her!!!! I missed her whenever she wasn’t able to attend the Thursday meetings at MSAC. I especially loved her stories about her life growing up. Never judge a book by its cover!!! She may have been small, but she was fierce…a very strong and independent woman. I feel truly blessed to have known her!!! Be at peace…

  13. Lynn Harrod on April 2, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Kevin, so sorry to hear the loss of your mom. She was such a kind and caring to the neighborhood kids long ago.

  14. Lynn Harrod on April 2, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Kevin, so sorry to hear the loss of your mom. She was such so kind and caring to the neighborhood kids long ago.

  15. Anna Marie Hickock and Barb (Hickock) Martinez on April 2, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    We are so sorry for your loss. She was such a sweet lady. She will be missed.

  16. Karen Heeb on April 3, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Tayna and Kevin–
    I’m praising God for Darlene’s heavenly reward and no longer having to deal with the ravages of her earthly body. She fought so hard and gave every ounce of effort possible to living life to the fullest.
    Thoughts and prayers to you two and all of your family members.

    Karen Heeb

  17. Rosemary K O'Tey on April 8, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Like many, I meet Darlene through MSAC and seeing her on Thursdays. We sat across from each other for lunch most days. We were both quiet and didn’t talk much but were very much aware of each other and I will miss her presence. Whenever we lose someone at MSAC, we lose a piece of ourselves.

  18. Donna Pankratz on May 4, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Darlene and I went to Meade Bible Academy, graduating in the class of 1956. We sang together in a ladies quartet. My condolences to her family.
    I have many good memories of her as a friend. Donna Cornelsen Pankratz

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