1929 - 2020
Del was born April 30, 1929 in Rochester, MN, an only child to Stella and Dwight Thurber. Del witnessed and learned a strong work ethic from his parents who owned Thurber’s Café. They briefly moved to California in 1940. However, when his parents couldn’t find work, they came back to Rochester by way of Las Vegas, where his father saw “real possibilities”, but his mother said it was “no place to raise their son.” They opened the Rochester Dry Cleaners where Del began to work in the 8th grade.
Del’s first (1933) Harley Davidson 74 was purchased for $250 when he was a sophomore. Having several mechanical breakdowns, his father bought a new (1946) Harley 74. Shortly after graduating from high school, a motorcycle accident left him in the hospital with a dislocated foot. His doctor asked him what he wanted to do with his life, and Del said, “I’d like to do what you’re doing,” and so his medical career began. He frequently shared that if it were not for this accident, he would have pursued a professional hockey career.
Del met the love of his life, Edith (Edee) Larson at Hawthorne Grade school in 5th grade. He remembers her as “the cute little classmate” and they started dating at 16 years old (recently celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary). Del was a proud member of the Class of ‘47 from Rochester High School then attended Rochester Junior College. In August 1949, Del took Edee to Ryan’s Bay after a baseball game where they got engaged. They were married and Del started medical school at the University of Minnesota in September 1950.
Del graduated from medical school in 1954 and accepted an Emergency Department internship at Denver General Hospital making $50.00 / month. In July 1955, he began his residency at Mayo Clinic when he was drafted by the Navy, taking them to Bremerton, WA, where their son, Jeff, and daughter, Karen, were born. Del resumed his Mayo residency in 1958 and specialized in tetanus. Their daughter Pam was born in 1961.
Retiring as an internist in Community Medicine from Mayo Clinic May 1991, Del enjoyed his second and third careers: A self-taught computer instructor, volunteering at the Senior Center and carpentry, building a cabin with his wife, daughter and son-in-law on West Fox Lake in northern Minnesota.
Del was proud to have played in the first Minnesota High School Hockey Tournament, 1945, refereed hockey for multiple years, was the last living member of the original Thursday Night Poker Club, enjoyed his cars (including his 1966 and 1971 Mustangs), helping people and forever supported Mayo Clinic.
Del (aka Up North hockey nickname: ‘Dangerous Del’), appreciated all sports, but preferred hockey, football, and baseball – a true Minnesota Wild, Vikings, Twins and Gopher fan! Del was active often spending time downhill skiing, boating, fishing, biking, ice skating, reading, listening to music (jazz and big band), and mowing. He enjoyed photography, playing bridge, checkers, poker and until recently, hockey. He loved anything with a motor and spent a lot of time on his computer.
He traveled with family and dear friends. Del’s favorite places were Maui, HI, cruises to Alaska, Panama Canal, the Caribbean, Greek Islands, and Western Mediterranean. He attended Elderhostel’s in Sonoma, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Prince Edward Island, and North Lake Tahoe. From oceans to mountains, Del was most excited to visit his children and family who live out of state and spend time at the cabin.
Del listened and told funny stories, he often went into great detail using the highest of medical terms not many of us could understand or repeat. His grandson said if he were ever on ‘Cash Cab,’ he would call Papa to answer the questions because he is the smartest person he knows! We will forever miss his knowledge, sense of humor, and desire to eat dinner at 5:30 PM but, sometimes, having the patience to wait until 9:00 PM.
Del was a conscientious, honest, and adventurous father. He instilled education and the love of nature. He would pack the family up in a variety of vehicles over the years traveling around the states to camp, ski, boat and enjoy the amazing outdoors. He was very authentic and a dear loving Dad.
The Thurber family would like to extend a special thank you to the Supportive Living team at Charter House for their outstanding medical and generous tender care they provided Del. In addition, the family would like to thank Mayo Hospice who gave further comfort during his transition period.
Del is survived by his loving wife, Edee, son Jeff (Las Vegas, NV), daughters Karen (Roger) Reynolds, Pamela (Brian) Suneson (Arden Hills, MN), two grandchildren Rachel (Cody) Walth (Mankato, MN), Erik Suneson (Arden Hills, MN), two great-grandchildren, Camryn and Logan Walth (Mankato, MN), his sister-in-law, Eunice Thompson, many special nieces, nephews, special friends from California to Massachusetts and the extended Sunny Shores Families. Del was preceded in death by his parents, Stella and Dwight Thurber, four brothers-in-laws, Bennet and Carl Larson, Red Thompson, Harry True, and two sisters-in-laws, Clarice Larson and Mickey True.
To share a special memory or condolence, please visit https://www.mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com/rochester-chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations in Del’s memory may be directed to the Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester or Mayo Clinic Foundation. A private memorial service is planned. A larger celebration of life is pending the resolution of the pandemic.
‘Te amo Del!’