John Robert Thiele, 91, of Topeka, passed away Sunday, February 4, 2018.
He was born April 17, 1926 in Lawrence, Kansas, the son of Judge Walter G. and Maude Lucille (Baker) Thiele. He was a graduate of Topeka High School. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas. He served in the U.S. Navy during WW II.
John was employed by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company from 1949 until retiring in 1987, a time of many changes in tire types and construction. He worked on the development and production of truck and earthmover tires. Later in his career he was sent to Brazil, Peru, and South Africa to study Goodyear tires in use and further improve their quality and durability.
He was an active member of First Congregational Church, Fortnightly Club, University of Kansas Alumni Association, Circus Fans Association, Circus Historical Society and Circus Model Builders.
John married Barbara A. Richard on January 24, 1949 at Danforth Chapel in Lawrence. She survives. Other survivors include three children, Sara (Michael) Heydari, Lawrence, Jeffrey (Linda) Thiele, Columbia, MO and James (Barbara) Thiele, Hillsboro, OR; six grandchildren, David Doeren, Dustin Doeren, Graham Doeren, Jeremy Thiele, Matthew Thiele and Allison Thiele; and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother in infancy (Walter), and a great-granddaughter (Aubrey).
John was an avid fan of KU sports, and a life-long Circus fan with a passion for small outdoor tent shows. He knew a number of the members of the crews and acts, having also known their parents. He had a special affection for elephants.
A visitation will be held Friday the 16th from 6 to 8 PM at the First Congregational Church, 1701 SW Collins Ave, Topeka. A funeral service will be held at the church on Saturday the 17th, from 11 AM to Noon. A private graveside service will be at Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, KS.
Memorial contributions may be given to the First Congregational Church, 1701 SW Collins Ave, Topeka
or to Endangered Ark Foundation, PO Box 306, Hugo, OK 74743; PH 580-317-8470; firstname.lastname@example.org. The Endangered Ark Foundation is a registered nonprofit organization. It was founded in 1993 in part as a retirement ranch for circus elephants.
Penwell-Gabel Mid-Town Chapel in Topeka is assisting the family.
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