Al Thelin did not like obituaries. Therefore, this is absolutely not an obituary.
Stray thoughts organize and coalesce, orbiting feelings that grow and focus on people. Intensity builds, and soon there is enough gravity that other things are absorbed into the singularity or dismissed at the event horizon. At the center is the irresistible call to service.
Joseph and Sigrid (Rangner) Thelin used actions and a few words to imbue this paradigm into Al (Joseph Allan Thelin, Jr.) from the moment of his birth on December 26, 1944, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. His sisters, Josie, MaryLynn, and Annette, as well as his brother, Heber, acted as additional witnesses and examples.
Supported and emboldened by this rooted philosophy, Al ravenously acquired a never-toppling tower of skills, each of which reinforced and enabled this imperative sense of service. These skills included but were hardly limited to:
Cooking, baking, photographing, puppeteering, writing (especially poetry), woodworking, teaching, mentoring, counseling, paper making, artifact preserving, historical reenacting, acting, leatherworking, storytelling, graphic designing, publishing, bookmaking and bookbinding, hat making, archival box making, shoemaking, being Santa Claus, and yes, that other thing you just thought of.
His skills and knowledge were obtained and forged through family enterprises in Canada, Utah, Idaho, and Las Vegas; service in the Army during Vietnam; teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a missionary to Stockholm, Sweden; earning a degree from the University of Utah; teaching photography at the University of Utah; stringing for the local newspapers; owning his own photo and publishing businesses; performing countless callings for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and odd jobs that were in and out like fashion trends.
However, his most important service was started on September 15, 1967, when he married Susan Kay Drexl. Together they raised seven children: Brett (Alicia) Thelin, Jody (Erik) Hansen, Todd (Amelia) Thelin, Christopher Robin (MarKay) Thelin, Catherine Thelin, Jennifer (Carl) Kynaston, and Timothy (Allison) Thelin.
After divorce, a marriage to Jeanne Renee Sonntag on August 9, 2004, added more love to his life and grown children he called his own: Emilee (Gearald) McCoy, Audrey English, Laurie (Kersten) Flurer, Nikolaus (Lena) English, and Amy (Jason) Murray. To date, Al has 29 grandchildren.
The first dog Al introduced to his children was a pup they named Muzzy. Many more followed throughout his life: Oscar, Teddy, Montana, Lucy, Max, Sadie, Mick, Hazel, Luna, and Asta.
Al applied his accumulating skills throughout his life in serving family, friends, and anyone else who needed it. He always had a warm meal or a loaf of bread to give, an affectionate, encouraging word to share, and would make time for one-on-one tutoring sessions. When things got tough, Al was the partner you needed – he never lacked smiles, laughter, or silly side comments, and he didn’t quit until the job was done.
Those who knew Al or were blessed by his service will always have a part of him. He shared what he had without reservation in hopes that it would nurture growth. Allow his example to enhance what you already have and encourage you to share it. Keep this tradition of selfless service alive. Don’t wait, don’t worry. What you have is good enough. Share it.
Always the ephemeral soul, Al slipped out of our view on September 15, 2021, in Salt Lake City, Utah. While we on Earth mourn this temporary separation, his preceding parents, siblings, pets, and anyone whom he has ever served are joyful in their reunion.
A viewing will be held at Holbrook Mortuary on Saturday, September 25 from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. At 3:00 p.m., a graveside service will be held at Elysian Burial Gardens (1075 E 4580 S, Salt Lake City, Utah).
When there are fewer risks to health and life, a celebration will be held to allow us to all share the ways Al’s service has touched our lives.