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Obituary - Norman Earl Thurnau

Norman Earl Thurnau passed away of natural causes on Jan. 17, 2016, in his home in Kalispell. He was 82 years old.

Norm was born in Austin, Minnesota on March 30, 1933, to Ben and Ruth (Stancl) Thurnau and was later joined by brothers Ken and Jim.

Norm grew up in the rural town of Owatanna, Minnesota, where he took part in boyish pursuits such as jumping the fence to get into the fair for free and shooting rats at the dump.

He graduated from Owatonna High School, attended three years at University of Minnesota and then joined the U.S. Air Force. He was a navigator and instructor of navigators based out of Waco, Texas, serving four years in the USAF and departing service as second lieutenant. He would get up at 2:30 a.m. and do his Air Force duties but was done by 8 a.m. After that it was all about eating poor boy sandwiches, golfing and other shenanigans at the beach.

Norm followed his Air Force friend Jim Pfusch and future brother-in-law Sandy Demmons to Montana, where he wanted to become a logger. Instead, he went to University of Montana in Missoula where he met Sandy's younger sister, Ann Demmons, Norm's future wife.

He received a Bachelor of Science in business in 1959 and promptly put it to task working as a stock boy at Buttrey Foods in Kalispell, Montana.

Norm and Ann married in Kalispell at Christ Church Episcopal on June 24, 1960. Norm took the assistant manager position at Buttrey's in Havre in 1962 and was later promoted to store manager and held that position until he retired. Norm was known for his friendliness and strong work ethic. Nearly everyone in Hill County knew and loved "Norm from Buttrey's.

Norm came out of retirement to work for several years at Collection Bureau Services with Ted Reber and Bob Butler.

During his time in Havre, Norm raised three children, played many years of fastpitch softball and golf, and become a community leader by serving on the city council, for the Optimist Club, on the church vestry and on the ski patrol in the Bear Paws. He had a wonderful deep voice and enjoyed singing at services at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

Norm and Ann retired in the Flathead Valley in 1992 ,where they had spent many Christmas and summer vacations with their children during their working years.

For years Norm continued to pursue his passions of golf, skiing and spending time with family. He loved going to family reunions, family birthdays, and attending his grandchildren's school, musical and sporting events and was a lifelong Griz fan. He was a strong and yet gentle man every day of his life.

Norm is survived by Ann, his wife of 55 years, his brother Ken and wife Mary Lou of Owatonna, Minnesota, his brother Jim of Albert Lea, Minnesota, his sons Randy of Kirkland, Washington, and Todd of Missoula, Montana, and daughter Julie and husband Gib Koch of Bigfork, Montana, as well as his grandchildren Ryan and Serena Koch of Bigfork and Jessica (Koch) and Philip Lodien of Kalispell, and many Thurnau and Demmons nieces and nephews.

He will be missed deep in our hearts and for years to come, but we know he was a man of strong faith and lived in Christ's peace throughout his life. We long for the day we will be together again.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 at 11 a.m. at Christ Church Epicopal, 215 3rd Avenue East in Kalispell. A gathering for the celebration of Norm's life will also be planned for spring or summer of 2016.

In memory of Norm, donations may be made to Christ Church Epicopal or the charity of your choice.


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