William Dean Thielen

William Dean Thielen

July 19, 1951 – July 26, 2023

Bill, 72, passed away peacefully in Omaha, NE on July 26, 2023, surrounded by family.

Bill Thielen was born July 19, 1951, in Exira, IA, to parents, William and Marie (Grossman) Thielen. He spent his younger years in Exira, until he moved to Carroll, IA, where he graduated from Carroll High School. After graduation he moved to Omaha, NE. He worked for Malnove, Inc. where he met his wife, Barbara Jean (Rech) Thielen. They were married June 4, 1977. Bill’s favorite job was bartending at the VFW and American Legion, where he told countless jokes and socialized with patrons. Bill always had a joke!! He enjoyed camping, gardening, cooking, grilling, board games with his grandkids and listening to music.  He loved the Dallas Cowboys, and never missed a game with his son, William.  He was always ready to have a chat, tell some stories and share a Budweiser. Bill’s greatest joy were his grandkids. Bill was one of a kind, funny and giving. He was soft-hearted and would tear up quite easily.  There are so many wonderful memories with a beloved husband, father, grandpa, uncle, cousin and friend. 

Bill is survived by his wife of 46 years, Barbara Thielen; children, Sara (Patrick) Medinger and William Thielen; grandchildren, Zella and Abraham Dowling; three brothers: Larry (Sandy) Thielen, Duane (Barbara) Thielen, Mark (Anna) Thielen; five sisters: Mary Carol Collings, Jane Neary, Cheryl (Larry) Cruchelow and Kathy “Tiger” Thielen; sisters in-law and brothers in-law: Jolene Thielen, Theresa (Phil) Zimmers, Geraldine (David) Zimmers, Patricia (David) Holewinski, Ronald (Janice) Rech, Daniel Rech, Jacqueline (Michael) Thompson and Kathleen (Darin) Hurlbut; many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, William and Marie Thielen; granddaughter, Peony Dowling; mother and father in-law, Dorothy and Arthur Dowling; father in-law, Leonard Rech, brothers, Tommy Lynn Thielen, Jim Thielen; brothers-in law, Glenn Collings, Patrick Neary; sister in-law, Lynn Rech; nephews, Trevor Collings, Dylan Hurlbut.

Bill will leave you with these last words:

“Keep your stick on the ice!”

“Don’t eat the yellow snow!”


VISITATION: Thursday, August 3. 2023 from 5pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel, followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 7pm.  FUNERAL SERVICE: Friday, August 4, 2023 at 11am, West Center Chapel.  Interment, Calvary Cemetery.

To view live broadcasts of the Services, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.



  • Keith Kerkhoff Posted July 30, 2023 12:04 pm

    My condolences to Barb, Sarah, and family.
    Cousin Keith.

  • Kenneth Richard Harris Posted July 30, 2023 5:07 pm

    A best friend for 50 years. Bill was his own man. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

  • Teri Fritcher Posted August 2, 2023 7:28 pm

    We are so sorry to hear about Bill. Our thoughts and prayers are with the whole Thielen family.
    Uncle Wayne Heithoff
    Cousins, Dan, Rick, Tami and Teri

  • Teri Fritcher Posted August 2, 2023 7:33 pm

    So sorry to hear about Bill. Our thought and prayers are with the whole Thielen family,.
    Uncle Wayne Heithoff
    Cousins, Dan, Rick, Tami and Teri

  • Mary Vankat Posted August 3, 2023 12:47 pm

    Barb and Family,
    I am so sorry for your loss. My heartfelt sympathy to all of you. Bill was a great friend to my late husband Jim. They had so much fun together when he was a bartender at VFW Post 2503. .

    • Michelle Vankat-Hill Posted August 4, 2023 1:29 am

      Mom, I bet Dad was waiting there with a beer for his buddy Bill. So many great memories.

  • Ann Narmi Posted August 3, 2023 12:52 pm

    Thoughts and prayers to your family. What a wonderful person he was. I will certainly miss seeing him!

  • John Klemiato Posted August 3, 2023 2:12 pm

    My first friend when I moved back to Omaha in 2016. The world will not be the same without you.

  • Michelle Vankat-Hill Posted August 3, 2023 3:04 pm

    I am so saddened to hear of Bill’s passing. What a wonderful guy! Many fond memories of him at VFW 2503. He was a great friend to my Dad and a comfort to our family when my Dad passed. Holding space and sending prayers to the family. He will be missed. “Keep your stick on the ice!”
    -Michelle Vankat-Hill

  • Josh Lyman Posted August 3, 2023 5:27 pm

    Every time I eat chicken gizzards or drink a bud I think of Bill. Rest easy. You’ll be missed by all who knew you.

  • Dennis Grossman Posted August 3, 2023 7:19 pm

    My prayers go to the wife and kids of my cousin bill. I will greatly miss him and we had some good times as kids growing up. May God grant him peace and may God grant your family love and peace Denny

  • Carol (Halbur) Grones Posted August 5, 2023 10:29 am

    So sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. So many memories of his and Ron’s shenanigans when I was a little girl. Will never forget mom smacking him on the butt with a bread board when they were wrestling in the house. I had never seen Bill so shocked. He harassed the heck out of dad but they loved him. So sorry for your families loss.

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