August 18, 1939 – January 18, 2024
After enjoying an evening of cribbage and conversation with friends, Rodney Lee Thiessen passed away suddenly, but peacefully, in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2024. He was 84.
He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Verna; daughter Shirley Piotrowski; son Brian Cole (Helena); grandchildren Jeannie Cole and Alana Cole (Trevor); and great-grandson, Michael. He also leaves behind his brother, Murray Thiessen (Marie); his sister Beverly McDonald; and a number of nieces and nephews.
Rod was born in 1939 at Steinbach, Manitoba, the eldest of Levi and Elda Thiessen’s three children. Growing up in the rural community east of Winnipeg, Rod enjoyed playing all sports, including hockey where he excelled as a defenceman. He was also a good student with a particular affinity for numbers.
Eventually, the family would move to Winnipeg, and Rod would take a job in the circulation department of the Winnipeg Free Press, holding down a number of positions, including district manager and country circulation manager, during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Eventually, Rod went to work for Winnipeg Enterprises Corporation, the former city agency responsible for managing the old Winnipeg Arena and Winnipeg Stadium. As operations manager and administrative executive in the 1980s and 90s, Rod took a great deal of pride in playing a key role in ensuring that various concerts, events and other gatherings at WEC facilities went off without a hitch. His hard work did not go unnoticed. A desk drawer in his home office is filled with letters of thanks from various groups for helping to make their events a success.
The job did have its perks. Rod was fond of telling a story about the time he listened in as guitar greats Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler rehearsed a few tunes for their Winnipeg concert in 1988. “It was like having my own private show,” he would say.
Rod was an optimistic person who always managed to see the positive side of any situation, no matter how challenging. He was also a bit of a social butterfly, someone who enjoyed making new friends and learning about their lives.
Throughout his life, Rod had many hobbies and passions, including bird watching, photography, gardening and keeping tropical fish. He also enjoyed travelling with his wife, Verna, mostly to the southwest United States and western Canada, but also to Mexico and Brazil.
But nothing gave him more joy than time spent with family. When the grandchildren were young, he lived for summers at the lake where he would take the kids tubing. In recent years, he enjoyed setting up a back yard water park to entertain his great-grandson, Michael.
As it turned out, Rod was able to have one last visit with his close family just days before his passing. It was a happy moment, one filled with laughter and love and an unspoken acknowledgement of just how precious such moments can be. He will be missed.
In accordance with Rod’s wishes, cremation has taken place and there will be no funeral service.
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