Born 90 years ago on May 4, 1929 in Miller, SD to a first generation Norwegian immigrant father and an eighth generation English immigrant mother, Swede Thoreson passed peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, July 30 in Santa Rosa where he was receiving hospice care during a brief hospital stay.
He received a public education, graduating from South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, WA and Eastern Washington State University in Cheney, WA on a football scholarship to play for the Eagles who won their Evergreen Conference in 1950, putting him in the Athletics Hall of Fame for EWSU. He married wife, Barbara, on September 16, 1959 before beginning his high school teaching career in Omak, WA. Industrial Arts was his subject matter and his passion. The couple and their 2 young children moved to Burlingame in 1958 where Swede taught and coached several sports at Mills High School in Millbrae. He also pursued his Masters from San Francisco State University and a career change to Guidance Counselor at Mills, eventually becoming an Assistant Principal until his retirement in 1987. Along the way came lifelong memories, countless dinner parties and bridge games, family road trips and waterskiing vacations all over the West, explorations of Europe with old friends, his devotion to Barbara’s various business ventures, and the 1992 discovery of life’s next chapter in Sonoma Valley. The family property in Glen Ellen gave Swede a purpose and a place to use his many talents for building something out of scrap, to test his green thumb, and to welcome many generous neighbors and new friends. He never forgot a face, and his serious side would often give way to teasing a laugh from everyone he met.
There are so many outstanding people to thank on his behalf who cared for him the past several years--the neighbors who appeared with a bottle of wine for an afternoon chat on the patio, the gentle massage therapist who relieved the aches of his once-strong body, the student mentees who kept the flame of teaching alive, the Kiwanians who reached out faithfully, the Mills colleagues who gathered at Nini’s Cafe to reminisce, the GEFD EMTs and Sheriffs who gently handled his medical needs, and the Staffs of both Sunrise Villa Sonoma and Arbol Residences in Santa Rosa who sweetly honored his humanity to the end—a thousand thanks!
Swede gave life his all, and he will be forever remembered and missed by his wife--Barbara, children—Lori and Gracia and Arne (Chris Janus), grandson—Dylan (Shelby White-Furtado), and kitty—Macchiata. He was predeceased by parents Olaf and Alice Thoreson, and half-sister Clarice Blackman.
Any donations in his memory may be directed to:
Mills High School Annual Fund—send tax-deductible checks (tax ID #94-2700919) c/o 400 Murchison Drive, Millbrae, CA 94030
Kiwanis of Sonoma Plaza—www.sonomakiwanis.org
Sonoma Valley Tennis Association—www.sonomavalleytennis.org
Hospice By The Bay—355 W. Napa Street, Suite B, Sonoma 95476 or www.hospicebythebay.org
Friends and family are invited to a casual Open House farewell to Swede will be held outdoors in the family’s Glen Ellen garden on Sunday, September 15, 1-4pm. Carpooling preferred.
To send flowers to Donald's family, please visit our floral section.