School 16

Joseph Thorstenson

September 25, 1942 ~ September 23, 2020 (age 77)


Work hard, play hard.  That was Joe’s motto, and he lived it daily.  He loved his dream job at the Kalamazoo Math and Science Center and spent countless hours there, and in preparation for being there.  He felt so lucky to work with such a talented and dedicated staff, and found great hope and inspiration in his students.  He worked hard and long.  And then he played.  He played the banjo and harmonica in several groups over the years, and established long and close relationships with his band members.  He was a private pilot, and his love of flying was a huge part of him.  One of his greatest pleasures was to take young kids flying through the Young Eagles program, in hopes of passing his passion for flying onto some of his passengers.   He was a curious and brilliant scientist, who was able to make chemistry exciting with his unusual, and sometimes unsuccessful but memorable, experiments.  All of nature was his friend, and he spent years rehabbing wild animals, taking hikes, and simply enjoying being in the presence of the wonder.  Astronomy, history, biking, running, and music filled the hours of his “spare” time.  He was an extraordinary person who always had time to listen, and to help anywhere he could.  He died September 23, 2020 surrounded by his loving family.  He leaves behind his wife, Wendy Mickle, his son, J.B. (Hayden) Thorstenson, his daughter Claire (Tyler) Horton, two exquisite grandchildren, Gifford and Neah Horton, his brother Mick (Joanne) Thorstenson, and his close friend, Cheryl Hach.  He will be missed immensely.  Two organizations close to his heart were Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes and Young Eagles.  If you are moved to make a donation in his memory, either would be grateful to accept your gift.   

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