Chester “Chet” Gilbert Thiessen, age 89, of Battle Creek, passed away on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. He was at peace and looking forward to seeing our God. Chester was born on October 14, 1932 in Muskegon, Michigan and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the age of 17, in 1950 he landed on the shore of war-torn Korea and joined the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division as a Combat Squad Leader. Chet also served in Germany from 1952-1953 during German occupation. Returning home highly decorated, he was stationed at Fort Custer Army Base in Augusta, Michigan. While there he met the love of his life, Donna Wemple after being discharged from the Army in 1953, being fiercely independent, he struck out on his own as a stone mason contractor, a trade he had learned from his grandfather as a boy. Widely sought for his talent and skill, for over 50 years, Chet completed many major stone mason projects throughout Michigan, including Fort Custer National Cemetery. Chet is not only remembered for his excellence as a stone mason, but for his public service as well. Having served on the Battle Creek Fire Department and receiving many awards from the Michigan Department of Military Affairs, for his 32 years of volunteer service. He served as a lay chaplain to the troops serving at Fort Custer Military Training Center, on behalf of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Chet married the “Love of His Life”, Donna Mae Wemple on February 23, 1957, at St. Philip Catholic Church. Chet was a member of St. Philip church for many years. He served as a Lector and Holy Eucharistic Minister. Chet helped give his family a firm faith foundation. He continues to live on with his family. When Chet retired, he built an authentic log cabin for his wife, Donna, and special needs daughter, Andrea Madonna. He built the cabin with his own two hands, at 80 years old when finished. Chet’s hobbies included working in the garden, drawing, painting many pictures, lots of carvings, and reading western books. Most important of all, Chet was an incredible husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Chet was a giver of his time and love for his family and friends. He loved his large family.
Chet is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Donna Mae Thiessen; his daughters, Karen L. Rounds, Mary L. (Terry) Sheerer, Terese L. (Brian) Koski, Maria A. Tolf, special needs daughter, Andrea M. Thiessen; and former son-in-law, Timothy L. Schoonard; thirty-one grandchildren; nineteen great-grandchildren. Chet was preceded in death by his son, Bartholomew “Bart” Chester Charles Thiessen, and his daughter, Connie Lynn Thiessen Schoonard.
Friends may visit with the family from 4 – 7 p.m. on Friday, October 22, 2021, at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 2838 Capital Ave SW, Battle Creek, MI 49015. Following the visitation, a Rosary service will be held at 7:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church, 112 Capital Ave NE, Battle Creek, MI 49017, with Rev. Fr. James Richardson officiating. Following the Mass, interment will take place in Battle Creek Memorial Park, where military honors will be conducted by the United States Army. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to the Knights of Columbus, Father Owens Council #11114. Memorial contributions may be sent to St. Philip Roman Catholic Church or given at the funeral home for delivery to the council. Please visit https://www.kempffuneralhome.com to view the online obituary, sign the guest book, or leave messages for the family.
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Knights of Columbus, Father Owens Council #11114
112 Capital Ave NE, Battle Creek MI 49017