Obituary of Richard Michael Theisen
Richard Michael Theisen, the son of Richard and Donna (Collier) Theisen, was born 27 August 1959 in Denver, Colorado. He went home to Jesus on 18 August 2023 after a five-year battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 63 years old.
Rick, along with his two younger brothers - Scott and Paul - spent his childhood in Denver before moving to unincorporated Adams County when he was a teenager. While attending junior high, he met and formed life-long friendships with Jim Howard and the late Doug Roth. At Thornton High School his friend group grew to included Maurice Henry, Eva Korang Henry, Mearl Pearcy, Howard Hoffman, Carol Dreher Carter, the late Don Matte and Karen DeBeer Warner who later became Karen Theisen, aka his beloved "Pookie".
After earning a GED in 1978, Rick joined the United States Air Force (USAF). He retired as a Staff Sergeant in 1998 after serving as a USAF Firefighter. He began his military career at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and then went through Air Force fire-fighting training at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. He was stationed at several bases stateside and overseas: RAF Alconburg, Huntinden, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom; Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Arizona; Lowery Air Force Base, Denver-Aurora, Colorado; Kunson Air Base, Gunsan, Republic of Korea; Hahn Air Base, Lautzenhausen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany; Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls, Montana; and Eglin Air Force Base, Valparaiso, Florida. While stationed at Eglin, he was sent to the Middle East twice: to Qatar for three months and to Saudi Arabia for four months.
While stationed in the UK, he met Paula Gregory. They married 3 April 1983 in Reno, Nevada. During their marriage, Rick and Paula had eight children: Sarah, Naomi, James, Elizebeth, Rebekah, Matthew, Abigail, and Lydia.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1998, he worked as the night auditor at the Holiday Inn in Destin, Florida before moving back to Colorado in 2006 and was employed as a school bus driver and a para-professional for the Adams 12 5-Star School District in Adams County. He retired from the school district in 2019. Boy did he love to drive. Karen recalls studying and quizzing him on street maps, names and locations of all Adams 12 schools. He liked to help other school bus drivers prep their busses, particularly his sister-in-law Debbie Theisen, who he also shared his navigational expertise with.
Life circumstances lead Rick and Karens’ spark to reignite in 2006 and their love was rekindled. They were married in a Hippie/70’s theme wedding on 14 June 2008 in Westminster, Colorado. He became the stepfather to her three children Christopher, Carame, and Crystal Warner.
Rick was a devout Christian. He loved Jesus and lived out his faith not only by going to church services at New Hope Christian Church but also by living a life of service to others. At church, he and Karen served at the Coffee Court for 15 years. At the beginning of COVID, Rick and Karen opened their home to weekly Bible Study Groups and the Men’s Group. These special individuals surrounded him with love, support, and compassion throughout it all. They still meet to this day in Theisen home. He was extremely generous and was willing to help others in any way he could. Every week for many years Rick would pick up food donations from Safeway to help supply the church's food bank, make weekly trips to Project Angel Heart and drop off meals to his disabled sister-in-law, Beverly, in Brighton.
Family was very important to Rick. He especially loved Karen. He went to all family activities, near and far. He loved and was very proud of his children and grandchildren. He is remembered for being a hard worker. He always had a story, was always animated, always fun. He shared many memories of music, movies, driving and sports with his kids.
Outside of family, Rick had many interests. He loved all music, especially 70’s and 80’s Rock - Journey, Steve Miller Band, and Harry Chapin were his favorites. He loved the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and, for about seven years, went to meet Karolyn Grimes, “Zuzu”, when she attended craft/market shows in Denver. Rick played racquetball and was a member of a bowling league for years. He was an ardent Broncos’ fan.
Rick also loved his dogs. Rozko, initially the Warner family dog, was the first of several dogs to lick and wag his way into Rick’s heart. He was joined by Izzy, Dylan, and, later, Joja, and Stevee (his not-so-behaved support animal).
Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s in 2018 when he was 58. After his retirement from District 12, his trips to Crystal’s apartment to walk her dogs, became a very important job for him. He spent time weekly at his mother and father-in-law’s house watching John Wayne or World War II movies with Don. He would help Wanda with chores until he was no longer able.
Even in the latter stages of his Alzheimer’s disease, Rick enjoyed playing with his grandchildren. He continued to find solace in music; he could and would sing along with a movie’s soundtrack even though he was unable to follow the storyline. He played his air drums and could follow the beat even in his final months. He memorized lines from movies - a trait he passed on to his kids - and, years later, would still remember them.
Rick never stopped fighting his disease and was determined to beat it. His never-ending faith gave him strength and led him to his heavenly home. He donated his brain to Alzheimer’s research - even after death, he still will be helping others. The family asks for donations to be made in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association. Together, we hope to help end this disease.
Rick was preceded in death by his father, Richard, and by his daughter, Naomi.
He is survived by Karen; his children Sarah (Matt) Ozment, Liz (William “Ty”) Jackson, James (Amanda) Theisen, Bekah (Eron Harvey) Theisen, Matthew (fiancé Hannah Psyk) Theisen, Abby (Carter) Crabb, and Lydia (fiancé Luke Johnson) Theisen; step-children Christopher (Kimberly) Warner, Carame (Harley Christman) Warner, and Crystal Warner; grandchildren Anna, Emily, Zackary, and Olivia Ozment, Will and Halle Jackson, Lillian and Josephine Theisen, Jacen and Jaden Harvey, Rayden and Frankie Christman, and Kamrynn Warner; mother, Donna Theisen; brothers Scott (Debbie) and Paul Theisen; several nieces and nephews; his extended family and many friends.
Interment will be 8 September 2023 at Fort Logan National Cemetery (4400 W Kenyon Ave. Denver) at 9:30 am with full military honors. His memorial service will follow at 11:00 am at New Hope Christian Church (8992 N Washington St, Thornton) with a reception following immediately after the service at the church.