Ron was born October 29, 1937, in Madison, the oldest of four children, to Clarence and Anita (Prinz) Thorstad. He graduated from West High School in 1955 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1959. He was married to Laureen Seefeldt in l960 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
During his early life, he loved the military. In high school, he served two years in the Marine Corps Reserve as a tank driver. After graduating from the University, he accepted a Regular Army commission and completed Airborne and Ranger schooling. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N. C. for 18 months where he had 22 jumps from various aircraft. He was then assigned to the Korean Military Advisory Group in Taejon, Korea for 18 months as the infantry advisor to the Korean basic training camp at Nonson.
He left the military in 1962 and entered the automobile business with his father. He sold cars for 3 years while founding Thorstad Leasing in 1963. He subsequently became President of Thorstad Chevrolet and Thorstad Leasing. He conducted seminars for two years on Body Shop operations at the National Auto Dealer’s annual convention. In 1992 he was named by Time Magazine as the Wisconsin Automotive Dealer of the Year.
Outside of business, Ron was very active in the community. He served as co-founder and president of Thursday’s Child (a Wisconsin-based charity gifting to seriously ill children), co-founder and treasurer of Bethel Horizons, President of the Church Council of Bethel Lutheran Church, and President of Nakoma Golf Club. He supported many local groups and charities.
Ron’s hobbies and interests were many and varied. He was a licensed pilot (120 hours), a lifetime member of American Mensa, and a mediocre but generally happy golfer with his friends. He enjoyed boating, camping, and skiing with his family, and talking with his grandchildren. He and Laureen traveled to Europe, Hawaii, and Nova Scotia, and enjoyed many winter months in Sanibel.
Ron was particularly proud of the varied jobs he held in his youth. He started at the age of 9 by scraping gum off seats at the Eastwood (now Barrymore) theater. He detasseled corn, worked as a short order cook, was the night manager of the Purple Cow Drive Inn at the age of 14, briefly worked roofing construction one winter, and undercoated vehicles for the four years he attended the University of Wisconsin (he often joked he was the worst smelling undergraduate).
Ron was preceded in death by his father and mother, wife, Laureen; granddaughter Maggie, and sisters Diane Price and Dawneen Beedy. He is survived by his son James Thorstad (Barbara Horton) of North Reading, Massachusetts; daughter Jae Ellen Werndli (Todd) of Waunakee; son Thomas Thorstad of Madison; grandchildren Isabel and Julia Thorstad and Alex (Chaimaa) Mahmou-Werndli; brother John Thorstad (Debbi Kramer); nieces and nephews, and many good friends.
Ron wishes everyone as happy and varied a life as his was.
Visitation will be at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Avenue on Friday, January 26th from 4-7 pm and Saturday, January 27th at 9 am, followed by a service at 10:00 and lunch at 11:00. Family is invited to Roselawn afterward for a private burial. Donations in place of flowers may be made to Bethel Horizons Foundation (bethelhorizons.org) or Second Harvest Food Bank (www.secondharvestsw.org).