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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 69
Year of Death: 2020

Donald P. Thelen

Donald “Don” Thelen built a log cabin in the country for his wife and children. He enjoyed working with his hands and finished the interior of the cabin alongside his stepfather. On their 15-acre property, he planted many trees that changed a property that used to be a bean field into a beautiful homestead with lots of wildlife. He loved nature and made sure there was plenty of space for the wild animals to roam on the property.

When the children were young, family vacations were spent mainly hiking the state parks and camping.
He was a devout member of St. Anne’s Church in Lafayette, always willing to help set up and take down after church events. They attended services every Sunday and holidays.

Don worked for the railroad and Zinn Kitchens before becoming a Lafayette firefighter, mainly attached to Station #3. He retired from the Lafayette Fire Department after 36 years of faithful service. He was known for his practical jokes at the fire stations and had many people he mentored and called friends. He liked to spend time at and was on the original board of directors of the Old Station #3 Museum, also known as the Historic Five Points Fire Station.

He enjoyed shooting, hiking, and camping. He was involved with the Boy Scouts of America and was an assistant Scoutmaster, helping to plan and attending the camping trips they went on every summer, even being a chaperone for the troop to Washington, DC, one year. Don lent a helping hand to his son on his Eagle Scout project. He was a member of the Lafayette Professional Firefighters Union, Local #472, and the National Rifle Association.

Don was always available at the drop of a hat to help a friend, family member, or any other person in need. He was a family man who always attended his children’s choir and band recitals, then later, their marching band performances and art exhibitions.

He was diagnosed with cancer after less than two years of retirement with his wife. He had planned lots of camping trips during retirement but was only able to enjoy two full summers. Above all, Don cherished the time spent with his wife, children, brother, and his dog, Bree.

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  1. Couldn’t have asked fir a better cousin! Always willing to help. Helped to move my mother to assisted living while doing chemo and never told a person he was sick…..just wanted to help someone he loved! Love and miss you so much “Donnie”!

    – Carolyn Weedon