610 N. Maple

Russell, KS 67665

701 N. First Street

Natoma, KS 67651

Ronald J. Thielen

With great sadness, we report the passing of Captain Ronald Thielen, PO614 on Sunday November 07, 2021.  Ron was at home in Gilbert, Arizona, with his wife, Mary, when he succumbed to heart disease after a long and valiant battle. 

Captain Ron, as his friends knew him, was born on December 13, 1945 and hailed from Dorrance, a small town in central Kansas.  Ron was already a licensed pilot when he attended university in Kansas.  He then volunteered to become a pilot for the United States Marine Corps, where he flew the photo-reconnaissance version of the Grumman A-6 Intruder in Vietnam.  Ron was “in country” for ten months.  Many of Ron’s missions involved intelligence gathering as he flew over the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail.  While stationed in Vietnam, Ron was exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange, which negatively impacted his health in his later years.  After his service in the Marine Corps, Ron became type-rated in the Lear Jet and Cessna Citation, and flew for a Texas-based film production company.  On February 16th of 1987, Ron was hired by America West Airlines, where he was based in Phoenix, Arizona.  Ron flew the Boeing 737-100, 200. and 300, now called the Boeing 737 Classic.  After his upgrade to Captain on the 737, Ron transitioned to the Airbus A320, and flew both the A319 and A320 to destinations in the United States, as well as Mexico and Canada, until his retirement in 2002.  Ron particularly enjoyed flying the Airbus to Anchorage, Alaska.

When Ron was not flying, he enjoyed riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and regularly made the yearly pilgrimage to Sturgis, South Dakota.  Ron was also an avid sportsman and outdoorsman, who participated in the Kansas deer harvest for many years.  Ron was very patriotic, and was proud of his military service.  

Ron is survived by his spouse, Mary Thielen, of Gilbert, Arizona, as well as daughters Cherrie Jo of Georgia, Deanna of Nebraska, and son Dallas, who lives in Arizona; sister Kay Robinson of Hoisington, Kansas.  Ron was also close to his three stepsons, JD and Paul Gallagher of Colorado, and Andrew Gallagher, who lives in Arizona.  Ron was a highly-regarded Captain.  Those of us who knew Ron remember him as a quick-witted, clever pilot, and a devoted and loyal family man with strong friendships.   

Godspeed Captain Ron.  We miss you!

Cremation has been selected by the family.  A memorial funeral mass will be held at 10:30 A.M. on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dorrance, Kansas.  Burial of the cremains will follow at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Dorrance, Kansas.  Military honors will be performed by the Russell V.F.W. Post 6240.  Family will greet guests the day of the service.  A reception will be held in the building next to the cemetery after the service.  Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary of Russell, Kansas is in charge of the memorial service arrangements.