American Patriotic 11

Calvin Thompson

August 24, 1934 ~ July 25, 2020 (age 85)


Calvin "Cal" or "Sonny" John Thompson, retired rural postal worker, retired general laborer and jack of all trades, passed away in the first hours of July 25th, 2020.

Cal was born on August 24th, 1934 in Baudette, close to the Canadian border that he often joked that he was not quite sure if he was American or Canadian. His parents were Clara Elvie Titus and Frank Fayette Thompson.  Family lore is that he was the only survivor from a set of triplets and that he was so small that he was put to sleep in a cigar box when he was first born, then graduated to a Red Wing boot box. He eventually moved into a dresser drawer and finally the crib.

He moved to Alexandria with his mom and younger sister, Gwendollyn "Sharon", as a young tot until Clara met and married Clarance "Jack" Eblen. The newly formed family, which included Jack's children: Roy, Floyd "Porkchops", Shirley, Francis, and Fern moved onto a small dairy farm on the edge of Staples, Motley and Pine River. He eventually graduated from Pine River High School and began moving around the country, taking odd journeyman jobs, and enrolling in college courses at the University of California- Berkeley.

He was 18 years old when he met his future wife, Arlis "Porky" Waidelich, in Newport, MN.  They dated and got engaged before he joined the Army and was deployed to Korea soon after the war ended.  He took many, many pictures and traveled all over the countryside while based near the DMZ in Korea. He learned the language and fell in love with the people he met there. He came back Stateside in December of 1956.

Cal and Porky got married on March 2, 1957 in Newport, MN while working at Thermal King and Honeywell.  In 1958 they welcomed son John into the family and Cal began working as a mail carrier in St. Paul Park, while also working as a machinist at Minneapolis Moline.  In 1960 daughter Rene joined the family, and they made their home at a beautiful house on the corner of Lincoln and Pullman Avenues in St. Paul Park.  In 1963 Cal and Pork excitedly awaited the arrival of twins, but tragedy struck when the girls were born prematurely. Rita Mae and Rosalie Kae passed away within hours of their births.

Cal and Porky kept a busy social life with lots of friends and family get togethers, often traveling up to Staples to spend weekends on the dairy farm. They were very involved in their son's Cub Scout troop, and hockey games. By 1970 Cal had become a genealogy addict, taking his kids out of school to go conduct research at libraries and cemeteries around the area.

He also doted on his granddaughter Jenni when she made her surprise entrance in 1978, becoming a surrogate father to her in her early years.

Cal enjoyed taking the family on road trips around the country, and he loved camping, fishing in Canada, building things with his hands and gardening, he and the family liked spending their times riding their dirt bikes. Cal was a supreme dog lover; his favorites were his terrier named Spot and his Springer Spaniel named Chica.

He taught his children, and later his grandchildren, how to work with their hands as well as their brains.  He was a voracious reader, Isaac Asimov and Louis L'Amour were two of his favorite authors.  He did not like raccoons stealing food from the bird feeders and would chase them off the deck of the home he and Porky bought in rural Stanchfield in the 1990s.

Rene and her children temporarily lived with Cal and Porky upon their return to the United States and he spent a lot of time teaching the kids much needed skills such as: How to fall off a roof without hurting yourself, how to read several books at the same time by keeping a different book in each of the rooms of the house so you always have something to read, how to row in a boat on a duckweed infested homemade pond without getting itchy.  

Cal 'retired' from the Cambridge Post Office in 1993 and got bored so he briefly went back to work before retiring again.  In 2001 Porky and Cal bought a house in Sebeka, MN to be near their son John and his family who lived in the area.

Cal was already experiencing signs of dementia caused by his brain atrophy in those days but was diligent in doing renovations to the house they purchased.  He was also very instrumental in the creation of Tim's Trail in Sebeka.

Rene and her children were frequent visitors, spending a lot of time with the grandparents.   Jenni's friends always felt welcomed in Cal and Porky's home, calling them Grandma and Grandpa.  Friends still comment on the ease with which Cal made new friends talking to strangers and learning about them.  

After 68 years as a couple and 63 years of marriage, Cal leaves behind his wife: Arlis; his son: John; daughter-in-law: Mary; grandson: Trevor; daughter: Rene; granddaughter: Jenni: grandson: Raul; grand-daughter-in-law: Amber; great-grandchildren: Lillian, Mikayla, Rohnen and Piper, grandson: Victor. He is also survived by his sister Gwendollyn "Sharon", many nieces and nephews, and countless cousins and friends.

He is preceded in death by his grandparents and parents; step-father; his twin daughters: Rita and Rosalie; his sister: Shirley and her husband Orville; his step-siblings: Roy, Porkchops, Shirley, Francis and Fern; his brothers-in-law: John, Don, Bear, and Stan. And his sister-in-law: Toots.  He is also preceded in death by two of his best friends: Elmer Lakeberg of Stanchfield; and Ken Kok of St Paul Park.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Calvin Thompson, please visit our floral store.


August 22, 2020

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Karvonen Funeral Home ~ Wadena
419 2nd Street NE
Wadena, MN 56482
Guaranteed delivery before the Visitation begins

Memorial Service
August 22, 2020

11:00 AM
Karvonen Funeral Home ~ Wadena
419 2nd Street NE
Wadena, MN 56482
Guaranteed delivery before the Memorial Service begins

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