Arthur F. Thayer
April 26, 1935 – September 21, 2021
Arthur Franklin “Art” Thayer
Age 86, of Blaine, MN, passed away September 21, 2021. Art was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Patricia Anne “Pat” Thayer; his parents, Elton and Hazel Thayer, of Virginia, MN; and his older brother Elton “Sonny” Thayer of Virginia, MN. He is survived by his four daughters and their spouses: Deborah Thayer and Charles Scripter (Stacy, MN); Becky and Ivan Benitez (Lake Worth, FL); Susan and Ken Nold (Modesto, CA); and Margaret Thayer and Jack Bartman (Bothell, WA); grandchildren Lorena Benitez, and Alexandra and Spencer Nold; favorite sister Thelma Robinson (Ramsey, MN); and many beloved relatives, friends, and neighbors.
Art was born on April 26, 1935, in Virginia, MN, and grew up on northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. Art’s sister Thelma, who is eight years younger than Art, shared some of her favorite family stories and memories of Art as they were growing up. One of these stories happened one day when Art was a 4-year-old boy, and he learned that a neighbor had lost his watch in a lake. Art looked and looked for the watch and when he finally spotted it, he jumped into the water without hesitation and retrieved it. Before that day, Art had never been swimming nor had any swimming lessons…he just loved to swim. He ended up joining the swim team in high school. When Art was a little older, the Thayer family befriended a stray dog, and this dog became their family pet. Tippy and Art were best friends; Tippy would walk Art to school, and he was always waiting at home for Art after school. Art would laughingly tell the story of how dogs were commonly “given their freedom” each day—allowed to roam wherever they chose. Art said that each day as he was walking home, he could see Tippy sitting on the roof of a neighbor’s house (apparently Tippy was also an acrobat). As soon as Tippy spotted Art coming, the dog would make a beeline for home and wait for Art, and then act as though he had been home all day.
When Art was around 12 years old, he and his older brother Elton worked together with their father to build a small red car that actually ran. They would drive it around Williams Addition, giving rides to their neighbors. It was the talk of the neighborhood!
When Thelma was school age, she always wanted her big brother Art to babysit her when their parents went out, because Art would make popcorn for their meals—even breakfast!
Art attended Roosevelt High School, where he played football and swam on the swim team, and then graduated in 1953. Following high school, he attended Virginia Junior College, where he again played on the football team and was co-captain. During this time, Art also worked in Olcott Park in Virginia, mowing the lawn and doing general maintenance. His grandfather was the superintendent of the park, and his father worked there, too, tending to the grounds and serving as Art’s boss. During World War II, the Thayer family would haul water daily to a victory garden located next to the park to tend to the families’ vegetables. They were very fortunate to have this garden space, and this experience inspired Art to maintain a large garden until late in life. He also shared his love of gardening with his daughters. Art always admired his Uncle Franklin, who was a great adventurer. The story goes that Uncle Franklin wanted to join the merchant marines but was not admitted due to his club foot, so he bought papers from a retired merchant marine and assumed the man’s name, Joseph Gore. Uncle Franklin traveled the world onboard a merchant ship as Joseph Gore, and eventually married and settled on the Alaska frontier. Many years later, Art was gifted his Uncle Franklin’s diary containing Franklin’s colorful descriptions of the Russian port cities he visited during the 1930s.
Thelma recalled that their mother, Hazel, would take Art hunting using his uncle’s gun, which Hazel had given to him as a special gift. This gun meant the world to Art. Art continued this hunting tradition many years later after he had moved to Blaine; during hunting season, he and his good friend and neighbor, Vic Johnson, would travel to Virginia so they could hunt grouse and deer in the Northwoods, and they would visit with his mother Hazel, and stay in Art’s childhood home.
In January 1955, Art joined the US Army with his good friend from high school, Kenny Blake. Art completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and was later stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From 1955 to 1956, he was stationed on the tiny and remote southern Pacific atoll of Eniwetak in the Marshall Islands. As part of the US Military’s Pacific Proving Grounds, Eniwetak Atoll was a nuclear testing site. Art’s tour of duty coincided with Operation Redwing, exposing him to nuclear radiation many times. Due to the classified nature of the military’s nuclear testing program, Art was unable to discuss the nature of his military service until 1996 and was unable to record any photographs during his time on Eniwetak. Following his tour in Eniwetok, Art was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and was honorably discharged from the army in 1958 as an Atomic Veteran. In his later years, Art often reminisced about his military service on Eniwetak. Art was a member of the American Legion in Lino Lakes, MN. In 1959, Art moved to Minneapolis to attend an electronics training program at Northwest TV and Electronics. Even before his graduation in 1960, he was employed by Honeywell and continued to work there as an electronics technician for nearly 30 years.
Mutual friends introduced Art and Pat, and the two were married on October 22, 1960, in Brainerd, MN. (At one point before their marriage, Pat and Art were rumored to be caught kissing in a closet at a family reunion!) The couple initially settled in Minneapolis. In 1964, Art and Pat purchased a house and moved to the northern suburb of Blaine, MN, where they remained for the rest of their lives.
Over the years, Art and Pat and their four daughters shared many fun family outings, including numerous camping trips in the big green Coleman canvas tent at many of Minnesota’s state parks. Another favorite family trip was going “Up North” to stay at the treasured family cabin on Lake Vermilion. Each of these family trips began with one epic event: Art’s painstaking process of packing the blue-and-white van for the family of six. The children were required to sit quietly next to one another, watching in earnest while this family tradition was performed.
During the decades they resided on Terrace Road, Art and Pat enjoyed hosting dinner parties, playing practical jokes and shenanigans on their neighbors, playing cards and board games, making holiday feasts, fishing and hunting, and spending time with their treasured friends and neighbors. Art and Pat’s annual Fourth of July parties were a highly anticipated event for many years, with friends and relatives traveling to Blaine to eat watermelon and sample Grandma Thayer’s potato salad recipe—but most notably, to join in on the neighborhood water balloon fights.
Art and neighbor Vic played sports and games with their daughters and the neighborhood kids. Favorites included basketball shootouts and over-the-roof tag ball. Sometimes Art would just disappear after he threw the ball over the roof to avoid getting tagged. Usually, the players would never find Art; he would just disappear. But Art’s favorite “Dad” trick was to tell his kids that the “fish wagon” was coming. We would see the neighborhood kids lining up with their money to buy “fish” from the “wagon”—but why would they line up to buy fish? It took us awhile to figure out that the other kids were really buying ice cream. To this day, we yell out “the fish wagon is coming!”
Art was well-known among neighbors and family members for his robust vegetable garden that reaped many pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers, rutabaga, and horseradish each year. He spent many hours tending to his garden from spring until fall, and he used his green tomatoes to create his infamous chow-chow recipe. His rutabaga was an essential ingredient in his homemade pasties. After their retirement, Art and Pat made regular summer visits to their Long Lost Lake property in northern Minnesota to fish and relax with friends. When Pat began to suffer from dementia and moved into a memory care home, Art was a regular visitor there and spent many hours keeping Pat company until her death in 2017.
Recently Art suffered with several medical conditions that eventually necessitated his move into assisted living. On the last Sunday before his death, he was still rooting for the Minnesota Vikings to win. Art’s family hopes that you will remember his great sense of humor, his infectious smile, and his twinkling blue eyes, especially when he would tell his goofy stories. One of those stories was the tale of the now infamous Side-hill Galanter. According to Art, a Side-hill Galanter had two legs that were half as tall on one side of its body as the legs on the other side of its body. This allowed the “Galanter” to go around and around and around a hill very quickly. Unfortunately, Art said, the Galanter could never leave the side of the hill because of the different lengths of its legs. When his daughters were small children riding in the back seat of the van, heading home from family trips to the cabin, Art would suddenly shout and point out the windows at a rare sighting of the elusive Side-hill Galanter. His daughters would crowd together at the closest window in hopes of seeing this natural wonder. Oddly, Art was the only one that ever spotted a Side-hill Galanter because these creatures are so quick.
If you are so inclined, send memorials to either the American Cancer Society, or to Disabled American Veterans. Thank you.
Art is survived by his four daughters and their spouses: Deborah Thayer (Charles Scripter), Becky(Ivan) Benitez, Susan (Ken) Nold, and Margaret Thayer (Jack Bartman);
Grandchildren, Lorena Benitez, and Alexandra and Spencer Nold;
Favorite sister Thelma Robinson;
and many beloved relatives, friends, and neighbors
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Interment Service for Patricia and Arthur Thayer
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Arthur F. Thayer
October 4, 2021
I was a classmate of your dad! Our daughter lived in Coon Rapids.
On our way home one time, I called to see if it as o.k. to stop on the way for a short visit!
It is so hard to visit with a large crowd at a reunion. He had not been to any gatherings for a long time. I always thought your Mom & Dad were a lot of fun!
SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS!
We lost an other classmate from VA. on the same day, but I wasn’t able to attend the service last Sat. Audrey Peterkin (maiden name)
September 27, 2021
Art and Pat were the best neighbors and friends anyone could have ever had or wished for. They watched over our family and were there for us. I am sorry we have now lost Art. What a wonderful, kind man.