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Published: Sunday, 9/1/2013

John 'Jack' Thiessen; 1923-2013: WWII vet became a Detroit reporter, later started Toledo PR firm


TEMPERANCE — John “Jack” Thiessen of Temperance, a former newspaper reporter, magazine writer, editor, photographer, and public relations consultant who had founded, owned, and operated a trucking-oriented public-relations firm in Toledo, died Friday in Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. He was 89.

He had a host of problems with his blood pressure, kidneys, liver, and intestines leading up to his death, said Geraldine Thiessen, his wife of 21 years.

Mr. Thiessen started his own agency, PR Counselors, in 1984, with trucking-related companies becoming the majority of his clientele, Mrs. Thiessen said.

He closed the business upon his retirement several years ago, she said.

His employers before then as a writer, author, editor, movie critic, photographer, and public relations consultant included the Detroit Times, Newport Communications Group Inc., and Pioneer Clubs, Wheaton, Ill.

“Jack loved to write and he loved photography,” his wife said. “He was very smart, very talented, very kind, and faithful to the Lord.”

He was born Nov. 8, 1923, in Detroit.

He graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit in 1941 and volunteered for the Army in 1942. He saw World War II combat in Germany and Czechoslovakia and was honorably discharged in 1946.

He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

After the war, Mr. Thiessen became a reporter for the former Detroit Times. He worked several beats before becoming a movie critic.

In 1979, Mr. Thiessen moved to Toledo and opened a branch office for Edward Howard & Co., where he had just become a vice president.

He enjoyed photography and writing short stories, which have not been published yet, his wife said.

Mr. Thiessen was a member of Bedford Alliance Church in Temperance. In the winter, he attended First Baptist Church at the Mall, in Lakeland, Fla.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, the former Marie Peterson; a daughter, and two sisters.

Surviving are his wife Geraldine, whom he married in 1991; daughters, Kathy Risher and Sue Habusta; son, Peter Thiessen; sister, Vera Thiessen Hillis; stepson, Mark Filonczuk; stepdaughter, Beth Swiderski; 15 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren,.

A memorial service is at 11 a.m. Monday at Bedford Alliance Church, Temperance. Arrangements are by the Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance.

The family suggests tributes to Pioneer Clubs, Wheaton, Ill.

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