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Theresa's Story

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Theresa "Tess" Audrey Thue Rendleman, 97, passed away Tuesday, May 23, at the Beardsley House Assisted Living Facility, Elkhart.
Tess was born in Wheelock, North Dakota, June 14, 1919, to Helge Klause and Bertha Fimreite Thue of Balestrand, Norway. She graduated from Wheelock High School in 1936, and in 1939 received bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physical education from Minnesota State University. Her graduate studies later were at Berea College and University of Kentucky.
After college, Tess began work as a congressional aide for Sen. Milton Young of North Dakota. In Washington, D.C. during World War II, she joined the war effort with the Council of Missions of the Lutheran Church in America. She established Lutheran Sunday school programs in Takoma Park, Maryland, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and Alameda, California, experiences which shaped her future role as a Lutheran minister's wife.
While stationed at Los Alamos New Mexico, she met her husband, Toby Aaron Rendleman. Their combined efforts supported church Lutheran members displaced by the war and which created Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Los Alamos.
A lifelong educator, Tess taught various subjects for school systems in Minnesota, North Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana. Her first teaching experience was a memorable year on the Red Lake American Indian Reservation in Minnesota.
In retirement she continued tutoring ESL and GED students and volunteering as a literacy advocate. Tess had a particular passion for helping students overcome learning challenges and building their confidence to learn. She championed each stage of their progress and remained friends with many former students.
Tess's interests reflected her bright personality. She was an avid gardener and enthusiastic bridge partner.
Tess loved to travel, especially with her sisters, always ready for an educational adventure. Family visits to Norway were highlights and her Norwegian heritage was often the first thing people learned about Tess.
She loved indulging friends and family with her legendary baked goods, NPR the constant soundtrack of her kitchen. She was a formidable Scrabble opponent and dedicated women's college basketball fan.
From those early days on Capitol Hill, she followed national politics and enjoyed discussing social issues of the day as a vocal supporter of civil and LGBT rights.
Her energetic long walks with her dog were common sightings for her neighbors.
Throughout life, her Lutheran faith sustained and guided her as she lovingly touched the lives of so many.
She is preceded in death by her brothers, Kenneth Thue and Austin Thue; and her sisters, Helen Macks, Aagot Olmstead, Eva Moon and Ardith Haga.
Surviving are her four children, Henry Stephen "Steve" (Denise) Rendleman, Indianapolis, Jane Ellen (Michael) Cotner, Logansport, Donna Margaret "Dee" (Patrick Altekruse) Rendleman, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Karen Eleanor (David) Blue, Elkhart. Also surviving are her six grandchildren, Rachael Cotner, Indianapolis, Aaron Cotner, Bozeman, Montana, Adam Cotner, Logansport, Dane (Malee) Blue, Elkhart, Austin (Joel Valenzuela) Blue, Mishawaka, and Madison Rose Blue, Elkhart.
Tess was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Goshen.
A memorial service will take place on her 98th birthday, Wednesday, June 14, at 1 p.m. All are welcome.
Published on May 26, 2017
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