In Memory

Ed Thenell








Date of death, November 29,1972

The just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age. He who pleased God was loved; he who lived among sinners was transported -snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul; For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind. Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand, nor did they take this into account. - Wisdom

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05/03/23 10:41 AM #1    

Joyce Peterson (Mitchell)

How shocked I recently was to realize that Mr.Thenell was only 38 years young when he passed. I still remember the announcement over the PA system and our early release from school. What a tragedy to lose such a kind and generous man at such a young age. I never, ever heard anyone speak negatively of him. He lived his values!

A few years ago I saw the name "Ed Thenell" on an email at work from CBRE consulting group.  They were managing an expansion project at the hospital. I emailed him and asked, by chance, if his dad was the Ed Thenell that worked at Blanchet.  He called me back and said "yes" he was his son. We talked about his dad and I told him about how influential his dad was in so many students lives.  Small world!

07/12/23 01:03 PM #2    

Rod Harmon

The first time I ever spoke with Mr. Thenell, one on one, was on Chocolate Day our sophomore year, and I remember his exact words:  “You twerp!” That was at a bellow.  I was returning some undistributed chocoloate bars from my homeroom.  Thenell was mad that I had waited until just after the final bell to return them because it deprived him of the opportunity to dump them on some other homeroom [or, I suspect, on me and mine].  It’s possible he suspected me of deliberate timing.  It's possible he was correct.

Senior year, I met with him every school day.  We worked very well together because I trusted him and he trusted me.  He never told me what to do, but he was very good at making suggestions by asking questions or telling me a story about what had been done in the past.  He once told me about a carnival that Blanchet had held years previously, to which were invited all the Catholic grade schools in north Seattle.  It was a great idea and we ran with it.  With a massive effort by many, and skilled organizing by Rose Dickson, it was massively successful at Christmastime that year.  I could tell Thenell was pleased when it started to take shape, and he told me a story about the best Christmas he remembered.  He was a kid (one of nine) and his family was too poor that year to afford any presents at all.  Even the tree was scraggly.  So his parents gave one present to all the kids – a puppy.  In Thenell’s telling, no puppy ever got as much love and attention as those deliriously happy kids gave that one.  That’s when I realized he was a big kid with an enormous heart.  He was energizing to be around.  Made me proud to walk on the same planet.

When he died, I remember the funeral procession from St. Joseph’s to Calvary Cemetery tied up the traffic on Capitol Hill for hours.  I remember how dark the clouds were, like they were in mourning, too.  And then, at the cemetery, when his casket was being lowered into the earth, the clouds poured down their grief in frozen rain that thundered against the ground.  A memory of that time that has stayed with me, and still moves me, is of Fr. McDermott and Mr. Merrill, one of whom always seemed to be made of cedar and the other of granite; they were weeping. 

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