Thelma Applen, age 100, passed away on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at the Gundersen Harmony Care Center in Harmony, Minn.
Thelma Elaine (Busse) Applen was born on February 7, 1923, to George D. Busse and Luella (Vail) Busse in LaCrosse, Wis. She graduated from La Crosse Central High School in June 1940. Following high school she took a job as a grocery clerk until September of 1941 when she moved with her parents and four brothers to Canton, Minn. Her father opened a grocery store there and she helped there.
On October 28, 1942, she married Howard Carl Applen in her family home in Canton. In 1946 they purchased a small farm in Harmony Township where they raised their four children. The farm was their home until the fall of 1977 when they purchased a home in Harmony, but continued to work the farm for several years. In 2009, the farm was rented out and they took up residency in the Harmony Manor.
To this union were born Carolynn (Pat) DiTrocchio of Harmony, Roger (Nancy) of Tucson, Ariz., and Burlington, N.C., Kathryn (Stanley) Eide of Harmony and Lana (Glenn) Soppa of Preston.
Thelma was a member of Greenfield Lutheran Church and a member of the Naomi Circle. Over the years, she taught Sunday School, Bible School and release times, served three terms as president of Greenfield WELCA, a term as treasurer and several years as its secretary. She also enjoyed singing with the choir and working with the Greenfield quilters.
She worked as the leader or assistant leader of girl scouts, cub scouts and 4-H. In the early ‘40s she served as treasurer of the rural Wilton Center telephone company, and later was an operator for the Harmony Telephone Company. She has served as an election judge, a member of Harmony Healthcare Unit #11, was a member of the cast of Harmony Melodrama theatre group, for several years was secretary of Harmony Healthcare Foundation and helped with the bloodmobile.
She was a member of the Rebekah Lodge and served in various offices, both local and statewide. She served as president of the Rebekah Assembly (jurisdiction of Minnesota) 1976-1977. For several years was secretary of the Board of Directors of Three Links Care Center in Northfield, Minn., a retirement home for the elderly.
Family was important to her and she always looked forward to, and enjoyed those great get-to-gethers.
As a teenager she liked roller skating, ice skating, hiking, bicycle riding and dancing. She liked to travel. She was fortunate to visit all 50 of the United States, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Germany, Austria, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Newfoundland and Iceland.
From the time she was in elementary school, airplanes fascinated her. Finally with all her kids in high school, she joined the Harmony Flying Club and was able to fulfill her dreams of flying an airplane. Being a fun-loving gal, she was a Red Hatter. For some time, playing cards with Harmony Manor friends was the highlight of the day.
She made simple quilts for all 14 grandchildren, so they could bundle up while watching television. Each of the four children received a tablecloth embroidered by her. As the grandchildren were married, each one also received an embroidered tablecloth.
This was the story of her life as the years went by, not to mention the hours spent in the fields as a helping hand.
Thelma is survived by two children, three brothers, 13 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, several great-great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, daughter Carolynn, son Roger, brother James, one grandson, three great-grandchildren and one nephew.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, September 11, 2023, at Greenfield Lutheran Church in Harmony. Visitation will be held one hour prior to services at the church on Monday morning. Burial will take place in the Greenfield Cemetery. Lindstrom Funeral Home is handling arrangements.