Thiesenhusen Obituary

June 29, 2005

William C. Thiesenhusen

FITCHBURG, Wisconsin - William C. Thiesenhusen, age 69, passed away over the weekend at his residence. Bill was born on Feb. 12, 1936, in Waukesha, to parents, Arthur and Myrtle (Honeyager) Thiesenhusen.

He was raised on a farm in Muskego, and was active in 4-H and FFA. While at Waukesha High School, Bill was a member of the Governor's Council on Human Rights. In 1958, he participated in the International Farm Youth Exchange program and spent half the year in Spain.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1958, earned a master's degree in 1960 and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics in 1965. During his graduate years he was granted a national fellowship to study public administration in what is now the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

When he returned to Madison in 1962, he joined the newly organized Land Tenure Center, an international development research and assistance program focused on problems of land reform and rural modernization in Latin America. He lived in Santiago, Chile, from 1963 to 1965, conducting field studies for the Land Tenure Center as a part of his Ph.D. research. He served on the regular faculty of the departments of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Agricultural Journalism, and the Latin American Studies Program from 1965 until his retirement in 1998. He was associated with the Land Tenure Center throughout his university career. He served twice as director, first from 1971 - 1975 and again from 1994 - 1998.

Throughout his UW years Bill offered a dynamic series of courses focused on land tenure and the economic problems of developing areas. He helped organize an interdisciplinary graduate program in Development Studies in 1970 and was director for nearly 15 years. He was skillful and energetic in bringing field opportunities of the Land Tenure Center together with research interests of graduate students. Bill authored four books and countless papers and articles, many of them analyzing the results of agrarian reforms with development lessons especially from Latin America. Bill was a regular consultant for the World Bank, UN agencies and international organizations.

His concern for people continued through his reading to persons with disabilities and volunteering at Wisconsin Public Radio. Bill was also on the Board of Directors at Briarpatch. He was an avid gardener and recently shared an interest in hiking with friends and enjoyed participating in several Elderhostels.

He is survived by his children, Kay of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Gail of Fitchburg; grandson, Brandon; mother, Myrtle of Madison; brothers, John (Pat) of Sun Prairie, Art (Bonnie) of Waukesha, and Charles (Earl Charvet) of Kansas City, Mo.; numerous nephews, a niece, colleagues and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Arthur H.; and son, James.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 1, 2005, at ORCHARD RIDGE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, 1501 Gilbert Road, Madison, with the Rev. William Wineke officiating. Visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service on Friday at the church. Burial will be private at Forest Hill Cemetery. Cress Funeral & Cremation Service 3610 Speedway Road (608) 238-3434