In memory of
Dean Alan Thonesen was born March 10, 1952 in Reedley California and died on October 29, 2019 in Arcadia California. He was preceded in death by his mother, Jane Thonesen, and his brother, Gene Thonesen. Dean is survived by his wife Mary, son Greg (Hannah) Thonesen, daughter Amy (Kevin) Thiesen; father, Leslie Thonesen sister Joan (Charlie) Taff, sister-in-law Joyce Thonesen. Additionally, he leaves behind his favorite grandchildren, Elise Thiesen, Morgan Thonesen, Aidan Thiesen, Tommy Thonesen, and Trenton Thonesen along with several generations of nieces, nephews and cousins. Dean grew up on the family farm on Manning Avenue in Reedley and started work at a young age with his Dad, brother and sister, taking care of their peaches, plums, nectarines, and grapes. In 1972, he bought the 40 acres at Lac Jac & Adams Avenue that he had been leasing. He married his High School sweetheart, Mary, in 1973. With their 2 children, they enjoyed many family vacations and outings at the end of the harvest season. Dean & Mary later welcomed 5 grandchildren. They became the most important focus of his life. He spent as much time as he could with them and, as they got older, planned weekend road trips to San Francisco and Los Angeles, movie dates on birthdays, and then 8th grade trips to New York City and Washington DC. Many special memories were made during family weekends at Shaver. He was especially thankful that this past summer, he was able to attend the high school graduations of his 2 granddaughters and the 8th grade promotion of his youngest grandson. He was a member of the Fresno County Farm Bureau for more than 40 years. In the 1970's he chaired the FCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee (YF&R), eventually serving as Chairman of the State YF&R program, then as Vice Chairman of the American Farm Bureau 's YF&R Committee. In 1982 he was selected as a member of Class XII of the Ag Leadership program and continued his leadership education with his participation in the many seminars, travel and networking opportunities that they provided. The leadership skills he learned in these two organizations prepared him for his career with the Britz family where he served as Vice President and General Manager for 34 years at Sunwest Fruit Company. He was instrumental in the development and expansion of Sunwest, building it, with his team, into a year round growing, packing and shipping operation. Stonefruit & citrus produced by Sunwest and its growers, was sold throughout the US and world markets. Dean was a highly organized, effective and driven leader who was able to analyze a situation, explore options then make a decision and tackle the next challenge. During his career, he was a member of many industry organizations and advisory committees, most recently the California Fresh Fruit Association where he served on the Board & Executive Committee. He enjoyed his 7 years as a member of The Big Fresno Fair Board of Directors working hard to improve the grounds and experience for fairgoers. Dean was a longtime Bulldog Foundation member and especially enjoyed basketball and football games. He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church for 54 years. He was diagnosed in May of 2018 with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer and began what he called an adventure. As he told family and friends of the diagnosis, he said that everyone has a journey in life and this is the one that God gave him and he would take it wherever it would lead. Throughout his treatment at City of Hope, the hospitalizations, procedures, and many bumps in the road, he maintained his positive attitude and did everything he could to move forward in his treatment. He was excited to be starting a clinical trial at City of Hope on November 4th and hoped that if he wasn't meant to be cured that he would at least be a part of the solution through research. Visitation will be held on Friday, November 8th from 5 to 8 PM at Christ Lutheran Church at 1254 N. Frankwood Avenue in Reedley. Memorial services will be held at 10AM on Saturday, November 9th at the Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church, 1362 L Street, Reedley. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Dean's name to City of Hope, 1500 E Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010-3000, The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 1500 Rosecrans Blvd, Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, or your favorite charity.
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