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Thede legacy handed down to Reinbeck civic organizations

Bill Bowen of the Reinbeck Lion’s Club, far right, receives a donation from the estate of Roger and Norma Thede during a gathering at the Reinbeck Public Library on July 12. Pictured are the Thede’s children Jay Thede and Vicki Lage who organized the event. Bowen regaled the group with a tail twister in honor of Roger who was a long-time Lion’s member. Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

A small group of community leaders gathered with the family of the late Roger and Norma Thede to celebrate the lives of the long-time Reinbeck residents and to pass on donations to local civic organizations from the Thede’s estate.

The Thedes allotted a total of $17,000 in their will to be donated to six local organizations with which they held special connections. Those included the Reinbeck Lions Club, the Reinbeck American Legion Auxiliary, the Reinbeck American Legion Action Post 242, the Union Congregational United Church of Christ, the Reinbeck Masonic Lodge and the Reinbeck Eastern Star organization.

The family also made a donation Paul and Marilyn Roberts of Reinbeck who were close family friends and assisted Roger and Norma particularly late in life.

Representatives from each of the organization were present to receive a check from the estate. Many memories and connections were shared about the Thede’s involvement with each of the organizations during the gathering.

Additionally, $1,270 of Norma’s memorial money was donated to the Reinbeck Library Board from Jay and Sandy Thede, Vicki and Jerry Lage, and Bill and Maureen Thede to assist in the renovations of the Library Public Meeting Room. 

Part of the library donation included a brass ticket gate that was originally part of the Reinbeck Theatre. Around 1970, Roger and Wade Hayes purchased and renovated the theatre building to become apartments. The ticket gate was a piece of the old theatre Roger kept and eventually handed down to his daughter Vicki.

The ticket gate will be among a collection of Reinbeck historical memorabilia and artifacts featured in the new meeting room that is soon to be completed.

A home in Reinbeck

Roger and Norma Thede made Reinbeck their home. Roger grew up in Reinbeck; graduating from Reinbeck High School, while Norma came to the community as a bride in 1947.

Roger worked numerous jobs. He picked up cream for Glenn Dirks very early in the morning, then delivered the cream to the Hudson Dairy to become butter. After a brief nap, he was off to Waterloo. Roger retired after 33 years at the Waterloo John Deere Tractor works.

Norma was a worker. Not only did she take in laundry but tailored clothing for numerous clients. She was a pioneer, selling Avon door-to-door when the company first started, all while caring for three young children.

However, Norma was better known for her floral business. Roger and Norma purchased the greenhouse and floral shop in the early 1950’s from Mel and Irma Tandy. Roger raised the flowers for the shop. Norma sold his overproduction to Waterloo wholesalers and florists. 

After fifteen years of hard work, they decided to sell the greenhouse.

Norma went to Gates Business College and earned her Real Estate and Brokerage Licenses.

Wanting to give back to their community, they set up their wills to honor local civic groups and one special couple that helped them in their later years.