The Patriot

A few words about Elmer Henry Thomassen (2/9/21-4/13/04)

Delivered by: Daniel R. Thomassen on 4/19/04



Good Morning.

I’m Daniel Thomassen, Elmer’s youngest son.


Of all the ways our Dad would want to be remembered, as a husband or a father, as a doctor or a farmer, a teacher, a student, or as a devout Catholic; I think our dad would want to be remembered in just one way…

as a Patriot.

As my brother, Michael, so smartly pointed out yesterday, our dad is being buried on Patriot’s Day.

Our country was founded by men who loved their freedoms.

They learned their craft and, if lucky, enjoyed it, and taught it to their children.

They taught their kids the hard lessons of life.

They questioned their government and encouraged others to do so.

They did all this under God… and this is how our dad lived his life.


He loved his life.

This is not to say he wasn’t strange. There is no arguing that he was wired differently.

He was always preparing for disaster… flashlights, food, water, diesel cans, medicines, and lots of them. 

He’d eat foods that most of us wouldn’t touch, because it was free.

When he found a deal… radios, umbrellas, wine, or toothbrushes; he’d buy a truckload.

He obsessed… about “punctuation”, left-on lights, and his favorite TV show, 60 minutes.

On the surface, he wasn’t a great husband.  He rarely embellished our mom (our wonderful mom).  He barked out orders.  He was so, so angry…..

On the surface, he wasn’t a great dad.  He forgot our birthdays, our names. He wasn’t affectionate, wouldn’t tell us he was proud, or that he loved us.  It just wasn’t him.

He just wanted us to learn from him… not only from his successes but from his mistakes, too.  He accomplished so much in his life, from poverty through medical school, providing for all of us.  He wanted to live past one hundred, so he could accomplish even more.

Our dad had so many good qualities, skills, and interests that he would need hundreds of years to use them all.  Thankfully, he had the ten of us, and I see his best qualities in each of us.


With William, our eldest, he shared a thirst for knowledge.  They are always with a book or magazine in hand.  The library is a second home, and with the internet, a whole new world opened to them.


In Michael, he gave his desire to protect.  Always on the lookout for dangers to their family, their country.  We may call it paranoia.  They would just call it… Priority.


Like Marilyn, he loved the law.  He always tried to find answers by working within our justice system.  They’d only bend the laws here and there if the cause was just, or in the interest of their family.


He, like John, loved machines.  They are passionate about cars, finding what’s broken and patching it up.


In Cathy, he passed his faith, that, above all, God was to guide us, and that we should thank Him for his wonderful gifts. 


He and Anne would engage and enjoy meeting strangers.  They trust and learn and teach, with every new person they meet.


In James, he passed his sense of family.  With every decision, they consider how each one of us will be affected, and how best to make these tough decisions with long-term benefits. 


He and Christine love to travel, especially to Germany.  They are so proud of our wonderful heritage; he would always talk about it.  She keeps the language.


To Mark he taught the value of a dollar.  A thirty-dollar oil change is a crime, and any more than five bucks on lunch is a crime.  Go on a trip, though, and all this was out the window.  They surprise you with their generosity when you least expect it, while putting away for a better future.


For me, we shared a love of science.  The natural world and the human body are wonderful mysteries to be studied and discussed.  We also have an unusual comfort level around our clutter.


Most of all, our dad showed us that we are not just here to fit in, for 83-or-so years, and just go away quietly.  He wanted to leave a mark, a legacy… and he saw his best traits in each of us and that made him so proud.  He wouldn’t tell us, or couldn’t tell us, but he would tell everyone he talked to about us and Mom.  Everyone I met that he’d talked to had some great story about one of us, our work, our talents, our brains.

He was so proud.


The saddest part about his passing, for me, is that so few got to know our dad.  Our neighbors would drive by our old house, see this old man with a dirty shirt working on a car or hauling some junk.


They didn’t see his love for his family and our future.


They didn’t know how he fought for their interests… fair taxes, a safe country, a just health care system.


They know how he treasured life… whether is was a young American sent unnecessarily to war,

Or an unborn child lost to abortion,

He fought for them.


They didn’t know how he used his skill and knowledge to make life better for his neighbors through surgery,

Repairing someone hand or foot,

Saving another neighbor’s arm from amputation,

Saving his youngest son’s left, big toe, ensuring him a much better life.


They didn’t know he came across a car accident where someone’s head was crushed and they were not breathing, heart stopped.  He used a hollow pen to establish an airway, a razor blade to cut open the chest and pump their heart by hand, until this stranger was revived, just so life would be preserved for a few more hours. 

He treasured life.


What a wonderful life he had.


He would just want you to remember him as a Patriot today.


We’re also going to remember him as a great father.