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.