John Arthur Thomforde, 84, a lifelong Crookston, MN resident and longtime businessman, passed away at his home on his 84th birthday, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, with his beloved wife, Jean, and their children at his side.
John was born on April 27, 1938 to Harold Frederick and Lucille (Sommers) Thomforde. He was baptized and confirmed at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, educated in Crookston schools, and graduated as a member of Central High School’s Class of 1956. John then began employment with the Crookston Milling Company. During this time, he also served with the Crookston National Guard from 1955-65. On December 27, 1958 John was united in marriage to the love of his life, Jean Marie Bratrud, with the ceremony taking place at Crookston’s Trinity Lutheran Church. Their union would be blessed by the births of 4 children: Jody, Jana, Joan, and Jim. In 1963 John started working for the Dahlgren Company and remained with them until joining his parents in their business established in 1966 and known as the Thomforde Yarn and Garden Center. After several years John and Jean became owners of Thomforde’s and successfully operated the Crookston landmark business until selling and retiring in 2006. Sadly, their daughter, Joan, passed away on July 15, 2011.
John became a licensed judge for the American Poultry Association at the age of 20 and gained a sterling reputation for his expert knowledge and judging ability at events in many states around the country. He was involved with poultry during the Red River Valley Winter Shows and the Polk County Fair for many years and served the poultry industry during the Minnesota State Fair for over 60 years. He was head of the Fair’s Poultry Department as it’s Superintendent for the last 10 years of that time. John truly enjoyed this huge part of his life and summed it up best in his own words, “many times I just liked sitting and enjoying the birds and having Jean’s hand to hold throughout.”
Jean was the love of John’s life. He always called her “his bride”. His favorite phrases were “yes, dear” and “I don’t know what we are doing today – Jean hasn’t told me yet”. John and Jean worked together for years at the Garden Center and poured much love into the Flowers and took such pride in providing the community with quality plants and their gardening knowledge. In retirement, John and Jean spent all their time together enjoying many of the simple pleasures in life: Spending time in his chicken yard (picking out the “prize winning chickens”), long car rides, going out for dinner, and judging chickens at the County fairs. His favorite thing to do, however, was just sitting on the front porch of their home, drinking coffee and visiting with friends and family, especially his children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren.
He was a patient, loving, understanding man of few words. John and Jean’s love for each other has set an everlasting example of faith, true love, commitment and unconditional love in sickness and in health in their marriage for all of their children, grandchildren and all who knew him. He was so loved and will be so missed.
John will be very lovingly remembered and sadly missed by Jean, his soulmate and best friend for over 63 years; their 3 living children: Jody Menge (Dennis LaFleur), Jana (Steve) Biermaier, and James (Shelly) Thomforde, all of Crookston, MN; son-in-law, Paul Mercil; 12 grandchildren: Angela Menge (Brett Meyer), Jason (Jessica) Menge, Jeffrey (Tonya) Menge, Eric (Tiffany) Biermaier, Lukas (Heidi) Biermaier, Nickolas (Taylor) Biermaier, Andrew (Kennedy) Resendiz-Biermaier, Joshua, Zachary, and Ethan (Haley) Mercil, Nathan (Heaven) Thomforde, and Isaac Thomforde; and 19 great-grandchildren. He also leaves 3 sisters-in-law and a brother-in-law: Norma Buckmiller and Pat Bratrud of Crookston, and Douglas (Mary) Bratrud of Erskine; several nieces and nephews; and a lifetime worth of “chicken friends.”
In addition to his daughter, Joan, John was preceded in death by his son-in-law, Mark Menge; parents, Harold and Lucille Thomforde and step-mother, Nellie Jefferson Thomforde; sister and brother-in-law, Audrey and Stanley Turnlund; parents-in-law, Norman and Lulu Bratrud; and 2 brothers-in-law, John “Jack” Bratrud and Daniel “Jim” Buckmiller. May God bless the memory of John Arthur Thomforde.
The memorial service for John Thomforde will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 2, 2022, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Crookston with The Rev. Steve Bohler, officiating. Visitation with the family will be for one hour prior to the funeral. The service will be livestreamed by going to John’s obituary page at www.stenshoelhouske.com and clicking on the prompt to view. Burial will follow in Oakdale Cemetery, Crookston.