Thelma Margareta Lagerberg Jorgensen, 1923-2016
Thelma was six when her family left Willows and moved to the Capay District, where she attended McIntosh Elementary School and was a Hamilton High athlete, graduating in 1941. She moved on to Chico State College, where she was a Physical Education major. She was a member of the Alpha Chi Sorority. At Chico, she lettered in five sports: archery, swimming, modern dance, basketball, and hockey. For her athletic accomplishments, she was inducted into the Chico State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.
Thelma, along with all outstanding female athletes of her time who were not allowed to compete against other schools, was finally awarded her Varsity Letter “C” in 2013. During summers, she worked at the Orland City pool, teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding. She was proud to have a job and earn her education. Thelma made several life-long friends at Chico State, speaking to some as recently as her birthday. She treasured them dearly. Following graduation in 1945, Thelma went on to teach physical education at Modoc High in Alturas, and in Yuba City, Oakdale, and Rio Vista.
In the summer of 1950, Thelma was working as a lifeguard/swim teacher at Donner Summit, where she met a handsome Danish man by the name of Einer Jorgensen, who was building a new lodge. They spent some time getting to know each other, but at summer’s end, Thelma sold her car and cashed out her teachers’ retirement, and with her college friend Jean Wageman Fisk, took off for Europe. The pair traveled all over together for four months, visiting Thelma’s family and friends throughout Sweden, along with sight-seeing post-WWII Europe. Upon their return to the States, Thelma headed back to Donner Summit, where she met up with Einer once again, for the New Year. The two were married just months later, on Feb. 24, 1951, in Capay. They made their home in San Francisco, where daughter Kristine was born in 1952 and son Peter followed in 1955. After a move to Novato, son Fred was born in 1957.
In 1962, Thelma and Einer moved their family further north, to Kenwood, where they would live, as Thelma described, a “wonderful life.” Thelma was a homemaker, swim lesson teacher at Morton’s, a Kenwood School Board Member for 16 years, and a Kenwood 4-H leader for 40 years. Thelma was passionate about education, and she loved to see kids learn and grow.
Thelma was very proud of her Swedish Heritage, having made seven trips to visit her family and friends in Sweden. She was a Life member of the Vasa Order of America Linnea Lodge #406 in Petaluma. The importance of celebrating her heritage was very evident as she spent countless hours baking dozens of loaves of Swedish Coffee Bread each year to help raise money for scholarships. Thelma and Einer also hosted numerous Swedish Midsommarfests in their large yard in Kenwood. Thelma was also proud that all six of her granddaughters served as her Lodge’s Lucia over the years.
Thelma loved to travel, whether it was a trip to the coast or to Sweden and Denmark. She and Einer drove to Alaska on the Al-Can Highway, and they also enjoyed trips to the Black Hills, Yosemite, Tahoe and Yellowstone. They drove countless miles in their motorhome, often with their grandchildren. They traveled all over California, Oregon and Washington to visit family and friends.
Thelma loved her family. She was extremely proud of all 10 of her grandchildren and the fact that they can all drive a tractor and shoot a gun. She loved that, thanks to Title IX, all six of her granddaughters got to compete athletically in high school, and five went on to participate in collegiate sports, something she so badly wished she could have done. All four grandsons also participated in collegiate athletics. Thelma was also very proud that eight of her 10 grandkids are college graduates, and the other two are still in progress. She was proud of the hard-working, good people her grandchildren have grown up to be. In 1967-1968, Thelma and Einer made the family a little larger by hosting a foreign exchange student from Sweden. They had an immediate connection with Ingrid, forging a very special, multi-generational bond between two families, with Ingrid and her husband Leif visiting in mid-July.
Thelma loved to sew, garden, read a good book (about sports, animals or Sweden), garden and paint in the traditional Swedish style. She was a good cook, and she baked an excellent apple pie. She enjoyed hosting visitors from across the U.S. and Scandinavia. Thelma loved dogs, and almost always had at least one as a companion. From Ruffles the dog she dressed up when she was a little girl, numerous other dogs, and finally Missy, her sweet, loving companion to the final days. She also had a few horses and cows she was particularly fond of. She tremendously enjoyed all the livestock her children raised over the years, and she loved to go to the Sonoma County Fair to see how the local kids did.
Thelma is survived by a large, loving family, including her daughter Kris and son-in-law Dale Brevick of Fall City, Washington, and their children: Dan and Rachel Brevick and their children Logan and Olivia, Peter, Karin and Andy Derrick and daughter Kathryn, Amy and Christopher Jantzen and daughter Philippa, Zach, AJ and Sara; and son Fred and daughter-in law Toni Jorgensen of Orland, and their daughters Jessica and Coy Campbell, son Clayton, Megan and Sean Farley and their children Nathan and Rachel, and Erika Jorgensen. Her Swedish daughter Ingrid and her family, along with numerous cousins, also survive.
Thelma was preceded in death by her husband of 45 years, Einer in 1996, their son Peter in 1982, her brother Robert, and her beloved parents, Pete and Elin.
Thelma believed she was fortunate to have had a wonderful life, and told us so numerous times in the past month.
A memorial gathering for Thelma will take place at the Jorgensen home in Kenwood on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Thelma’s memory may be honored by contributions to any organization that supports children, education, or athletics.