Cover photo for Jean Thieme's Obituary
Jean Thieme Profile Photo
1926 Jean 2009

Jean Thieme

May 9, 1926 — September 7, 2009

Jean Louise Thieme, of Jackson, Wyoming, and Greenville, Ohio, passed away September 7, 2009 at St. John's Hospital at the age of 83, following a 5-week hospitalization for a sudden illness. Jean Louise was born May 9, 1926 to William Edward Hole and Dorothy (Coppock) Hole of Greenville, Ohio. She is survived by her husband W.I. ("Mike") Thieme and their three children a�" son Michael Thieme of Northridge, California, daughter Rebecca Hartnagle of Greenville, Ohio, and daughter Susan Rope of Idaho Falls, Idaho. They also have two foster daughters, Ilona (Jakabsens) Reif of Laramie, Wyoming, and Gracie (Hill) Ratliff of Greenville, Ohio, 10 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. Surviving siblings are William E. Hole, Jr. of Greenville, Ohio, Barbara Kell Brewer of Tipp City, Ohio, and Susan Jane Brewer of Carmel, Indiana.

Jean Louise was raised in Darke County, Ohio and is a 1943 graduate of Greenville High School. She attended the University of Michigan during World War II and was graduated cum laude in 1947 in liberal arts, with a concentration in chemistry. At the University of Michigan, Jean Louise was president of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, president of the women's judiciary council, and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honorary. She received a scholarship to the post-baccalaureate Management Training Program at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was here that she met her future husband, Mike Thieme, on Armistice Day, November 11, 1947. Mike, a native of Missoula, Montana, had been a test pilot in the U.S. Air Force, and was then a graduate student at Harvard Business School. They were married June 18, 1948.

Jean Louise and Mike raised their family in Darke County, Ohio. Wherever she was, Jean Louise was involved in projects that benefited her community, especially those involving health care and the performing arts. Never merely a "check-book philanthropist," Jean Louise was "in the trenches" a�" delivering food, taking emergency calls, working in migrant worker day care centers and camps, writing grants and making presentations, and providing day-to-day administrative leadership for grass-roots organizations that subsequently grew and flourished.

In 1973, Jean Louise was a volunteer with the Darke County Migrant Ministry when she was approached by its board and asked to administer a health services program for migrant farm workers. She accepted the challenge and became the first Executive Director of what became Family Health Services, a primary health care facility in Darke County, Ohio, that was funded originally for low-income and migrant-worker care. In the eight years she led FHS, it grew from three employees in an abandoned grocery store to a major primary health care provider in the county, with nearly 30 employees including three full-time physicians with supporting personnel, Maternity and Child Health, WIC Program, a pharmacy, laboratory, and psychological services. This rural health center is the accomplishment she is most proud of. At Wayne Hospital in Greenville, she provided resources for women in need to obtain screening mammograms. In 1975, she helped to organize a 24-hour emergency phone service called FISH.

Jean Louise was one of the first trustees of the H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Excel) Foundation in Darke County and served in that capacity for 17 years. Within the H.O.P.E. Foundation, she established the Jean Louise Thieme Children's Theatre Fund, which distributes income annually to assure that Darke County children will have the opportunity to experience professional theatre.

Preservation of historical buildings was another calling. Jean Louise was treasurer for a volunteer citizen's committee that planned and raised money for replacing the deteriorating dome on top of the historic Darke County courthouse in Greenville, which was dedicated in July 1983. She also spearheaded a Memorial Hall Restoration Committee that raised nearly three million dollars and helped supervise the restoration and renovation of the beautiful 1912 Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.

Jean Louise served the Darke County Center for the Arts, first as Grants Coordinator and then as the first Executive Director. Working from an office in her home for eight years, with two part-time employees and stage crew paid by the hour, she booked performing arts into Greenville's Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall and all eight school districts in the county, developing an Artists Series and Arts-in-Education Program that continue today.

In 1981, she received the 24th annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Citizenship Award for her community work and efforts to build Family Health Services. In 1984, the Greenville Sertoma Club gave Jean Louise their Service to Mankind Award.

A recent Greenville project involved the fountain traffic circle, which Jean Louise's grandfather Fred Coppock had originally designed and financed. Jean Louise, her brother, sisters, and cousins contributed funds to completely replace the original small fountain, which had become non-functional, with a larger fountain, plaza, and planting areas. A dedication ceremony was held in May 2006.

She was an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville, where she sang in the choir for many years and served on the vestry as the first female Senior Warden. She and Mike hosted outdoor church services, picnics, and caroling parties at their home.

Jean Louise and Mike have been active residents of the Jackson, Wyoming community since 1990, when they constructed their home on West Gros Ventre Butte. During 2001-2005, she has served on the University of Wyoming Board for International Studies and established an endowment for artistic studies abroad. In Jackson Hole, Jean Louise served for 12 years on the Board of Directors for the Center for the Arts. She and Mike were influential on the Campaign, Building, and Program Committees and were major donors for the Performing Arts Theater. They also contributed to the selection and financing of the new pipe organ at St. John's Episcopal Church. Recently, Jean Louise has been serving on the Board of the Off Square Theatre Company of Jackson. Engaged with people and an engaging person herself, she made many friends in these endeavors. The family acknowledges with gratitude the concern and affection shown by these friends during these recent weeks.

Always a celebrant of life, Jean Louise found joy in her family, in reading, in gardening, in nature, and in traveling the world. She found beauty in the everyday and a unique spark in everyone. She was the loving, welcoming, fun-loving hostess of countless gatherings of family and friends for many years. Her presence with us will be greatly missed but never forgotten.

In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted in her memory to the Music Fund for St. John's Episcopal Church, Jackson, Wyoming.


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