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Walter Christian Thomsen

My name, Walter Christian Thomsen, was taken from my grandfather's middle name Valdemar (Walter in English) and my father's first name Kristen (Christian in English). I was born in a modest home located at 1314 West Pacific Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah on July 1, 1915. My father, Christian Peter Thomsen, was born in Hadsund, Denmark on November 11, 1883. He crossed the ocean via the S S Germanic in nine days arriving in New York City, U.S A. on June 12 1903. He joined his uncle Anton Thomsen in Omaha Nebraska where he learned English and the grocery business. My father became a naturalized citizen on November 8, 1909 and moved to Salt Lake City in June of 1910. Father had a special interest in Salt Lake City. Her name was Helena Jensen.

Helena Kathrine Oline Marie Jensen was born in Hvirring, Denmark on July 1, 1887. Her family moved to Underup when she was about four years old. Helena's father brought his family to Salt Lake City to join the LDS Church in 1907. Her father, Jens Valdemar Jensen, her mother, Dorothea Jensen, and four children including Helena, Anna, Elizabeth, and Christian lived in a house located at 1315 West 4th South in Salt Lake City, Utah. Shortly after my father arrived in Salt Lake City, he married my Mother. They were married in the Salt Lake City Temple on July 14, 1914. I, their only child, was born about one year later on July 15, 1915 at our home in Salt Lake City.

The first severe problem I remember in my life started when I began going to school. At that time, I attended the Edison Grade School which was located at about 7th South and 15th West. My problem was in communicating with other children and teachers at the school. I had no trouble understanding them, but they couldn't understand me. When I learned that I was speaking a mixture of English and Danish, I realized I had a problem. After I learned how to separate English and Danish words and use only English at school, my first problem was resolved. Before leaving the Edison School, I became a Xylophone player in the school's Orchestra. Leah Schoenfeld had been teaching me how to play a piano. I also began my first job while attending grade school by selling the Saturday Evening Post, a weekly Magazine. Selling the Magazine was not very profitable, so I obtained a paper route with The Deseret News. The Deseret News, an evening newspaper, was published daily.

After leaving grade school, I attended the Jordan Junior High School which is still located at 1040 West 6th South in Salt Lake City, Utah. My success as a musician at grade school prompted me to join the band at Jordan Junior High School. There, I tried to play a trombone in the school's band but failed. Then I tried playing a Cornet and managed to get some notes out of it. After the first year in the band, I played the Cornet fairly well. During the second year, five of the members including me, organized a dance orchestra. The orchestra soon learned how to play dance music. We recognized that we weren't good, but we were lively and loud. We played for dances on Saturday nights at LDS Ward houses for a charge of one dollar an evening per player. The 32nd Ward was our best customer. I honestly believe the musicians had more fun than the dancers.

When I finished Junior High School, I attended West High School which is still located at 241 North 3rd West in Salt Lake City, Utah. Naturally, I joined the West High School Band and continued my musical career. During the last year of High School, I purchased my first automobile, a 1928 Oldsmobile. I was fifteen years old. I graduated from High School in 1932 when I was 16 years old.

The renowned Depression of the 1930's delayed my academic career. Father left his job at Z C M I and invested his meager savings in the grocery business. I inherited a job in his grocery store. The store was located at 578 South 3rd East in Salt Lake City. About one year later, my father became ill, and was advised to get away from the grocery business for a while. Father convalesced in California with his uncle, Anton Thomsen, who had moved from Omaha to Long Beach. At that time, I exchanged my paper route for a morning paper route by delivering The Salt Lake Tribune. This change gave me more time to help mother with the grocery business because the Salt Lake Tribune could be delivered before the store was opened for business. Although we operated the store 14 hours a day and 7 days a week, the business was barely profitable. When father's health permitted, he returned to Salt Lake City and resumed his activities in the grocery business. Then I resumed my studies at the University of Utah. At that time I sold my Oldsmobile and purchased a motor cycle. The switch provided both funds for tuition and inexpensive transportation. Bruce R, McConkie became a friend and would jump on the back of my motorcycle and together we would go to ROTC training.

About the same time, my father was rehired by Z C M I. He then sold his grocery business and move into one side of his duplex which was located at 1245 East 6th South in Salt Lake City. Since then, things went well with our family. I discontinued delivering The Salt Lake Tribune and worked only during summer months. I worked one summer for The Denver and Rio Grande Rail Road as a laborer in their Salt Lake shops. I spent a second summer with George O'Connor building a cabin near the top of Lambs Canyon because neither of us could find employment. We purchased a four-acre plot of ground and all the materials we needed to construct the cabin for about $400.00. The third summer, a friend (Carl Fox) and I were hired by The Forrest Home Company in Lambs Canyon to dig a trench to contain a pipe line to be used for delivering water to the cabin sites. While working in the mountains, I lived in the cabin George and I owned. These experiences gave me a strong desire to spend all my spare time in the mountains. I enjoyed the solitude, the fresh air, the scenery, and the wild life we all can readily see in the wilderness of the Rockies. The cabin we built still stands, but I sold my interest in it to George many years ago.

I graduated from the University of Utah in the spring of 1938 with a Bachelor's degree in the School of Arts and Sciences and with a Major in Chemistry. Later, I completed a course at the University of Utah in Business Administration and a course at the Brigham Young University in Technical Report writing. I also qualified myself as a Professional Engineer in the State of Utah. I had found employment at Utah Oil Refining Company as a Chemist and began my life time career with them on May 19, 1938.

About one year before graduating from the University, I met a young lady who also liked the mountains. She did not seem to be bothered by bees and mice which are prolific in our Rockies. She liked to fish for trout in the local streams and did not hesitate to bait her own hooks without soliciting my help. On July 25, 1938, we changed her name to Marjorie White Thomsen. We welcomed our first son into this world in 1939. We named him Roger Walter Thomsen. At that time, we were living in the north half of my father's duplex which was located at 575 Douglas Street in Salt Lake City.

During the summer of 1940, we built our own dream house which was located at 557 Douglas Street in Salt Lake City. We were happy in our new little home where we had planned to live in the rest of our lives. However, threats of war interrupted our happy married life. I had obtained a commission in the Army Reserve as a 2nd Lieutenant while attending the University. I was called to active duty on June 2, 1941, and assigned to Battery H of the 40th Field Artillery Brigade at Camp Roberts, California. Marjorie and Roger moved to Paso Robles to be near me. We were unable to find a house to live in, so we purchased a 16 foot house trailer and parked it on a lot in Paso Robles. Paso Robles is about 5 miles from Camp Roberts.

After war was declared on December 7, 1941, I was on duty 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A few days later our unit was assigned to defend the shores of Southern California from an invasion by the Jap¬anese. At that time, my father and an uncle (C 0 Jensen) came to California to help Marjorie, Roger, and our house trailer return to our Salt Lake City home. When the threat of a Japanese invasion subsided, our unit was sent to March Field, California, a military air force base, to guard the base from sabotage. Marjorie, being a choice gal, moved back to California and parked our trailer in Riverside which is near March Field.

After completing our assignment at March field, our unit was sent to Camp Hood, Texas, and changed to the 826th Tank Destroyer Battalion. There, we learned how to defend heavy artillery from enemy tanks. When I moved to Texas, the family also moved to Texas. Marjorie parked the trailer in Copperas Cove which was a city large enough to contain one post office and one general store. That part of Texas was a miserable place to live. The humidity and temperatures were high. Everything we touched was smothered with chiggers. Roger became badly infested with chiggers and ringworm. After two months, we left Texas.

Our Battalion was sent to the Mojave Desert in California. We joined the famous General Patton and his tanks for a series of maneuvers to develop new procedures for destroying tanks. While on the desert, I was promoted to a Captain and given command of Company B of the Battalion on September 12, 1942.

Let there be no doubt in your mind that my wife, with Roger and the trailer, followed me to the desert. She first lived in Blythe, then in Indio, and finally in Needles. She moved to whatever town was near our unit. Even though we seldom saw each other, we were not many miles apart. Roger was a good trooper. He was a good companion to Marjorie. He never complained of discomforts he was subjected to. Before leaving the desert, Marjorie and Roger accompanied me to Alexandria, Virginia while I attended a school at Fort Belvoir to learn how to destroy fortified positions in Europe. While attending the school, we lived in a picturesque cabin in Alexandria, Virginia.

In the spring of 1943, we were sent to Fort Lewis to prepare for combat duty in Europe. By the time our battalion had obtained the equipment we needed, we were well prepared for the invasion of Europe. While waiting for orders to go to Europe, Marjorie and I found time to enjoy our son, Roger, and luxurious living in the Northwest. We lived in a house in Tillicum, Washington. The house was next to American Lake. The whole area was thickly forested. Because I was allowed to spend nights and weekends with my family while we were waiting for new orders, we enjoyed living. We frequently visited with the Inveens who were long time friends of Marjorie. Inveens lived in Tacoma Washington. They had a lovely home and a cabin on Puget Sound. We also took short trips to Vancouver and Victoria in Canada.

When our new orders arrived, instead of being sent to Europe, we received orders to prepare our battalion for combat duty in the South West Pacific. Consequently, we went to Fort Ord, California in Monterey to learn how to become the 826th Amphibian Tractor Battalion. At Fort Ord, we learned how to become amphibians. We obtained vehicles which could travel on both land and water. Each vehicle carried 30 passengers or the equivalent in freight, and was operated by a crew of three. We practiced different types of landings in various types of weather on the sandy beaches of Monterey Bay. At that time, I saw very little of my family who were then living in a house located in Marina, California. On August 16, 1944, the 826th Amphibian Tractor boarded a Dutch freighter at San Francisco, California and headed west on the Pacific Ocean. Marjorie was unable to follow me across the ocean and reluctantly returned to our Salt Lake City home.

One month later, our ship stopped at Milne New Guinea, and then moved to Hollandia, New Guinea to locate a freighter which cont¬ained our equipment. From there, we went to Los Negros on the Admiralty Islands to ready our equipment for the invasion of the Philippine Islands. Company A, commanded by Captain Melvin P. Adams landed the first 2000 troops of the First Cavalry Division on Leyte October 20, 1944. Company B, commanded by me, joined the 43rd Infantry Division at Aitape New Guinea to prepare for the biggest strike against the enemy in the Pacific Ocean. On January 9, 1945, my Company, led by me, landed the first 2000 troops of the 43rd Infantry Division on dry land beyond the beaches on Lingayen Gulf of Luzon. Luzon is the main Island of the Philippines. The beach was secured on January 16, 1944, one week after landing. At that time, I watched General Douglas Mac Arthur come ashore. About one week later, my unit was assigned directly to I Corps. My next assignment was to locate and capture isolated pockets of Japanese who infiltrated front lines or who had been by passed by USA military forces who were advancing toward Manila. I was given 500 additional men for a total of 700 to accomplish the new assignment.

Our tractors were used as tanks. Each tractor also contained two-way communication equipment. Consequently our 51 tractors, when spread throughout the area we were assigned, provided a good communication net work. These 700 men were spread across the neck of Northern Luzon. Cities involved included San Fabian, Dagupan, San Carlos, and Cabanatuan. We captured several small groups of the enemy. Many more of them took their own lives. Company A of the battalion rejoined us on January 27, 1944 and was assigned to police the low lands North of Manila. By July 1, 1945, the Island of Luzon was considered secure and the two companies were released from combat duty. The battalion reassembled at San Fabian which was near the right flank of our original landing. At that time, the battalion was assigned to prepare for the invasion of Japan.

Our battalion was soon making practice landings with the 33rd Infantry Division. We were on a naval ship preparing to make a practice landing when a Newscast reported that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. We received the news from an American station in U.S.A. This news brought the first unauthorized celebration that occurred while I was in the service. We all got our feet on dry ground as fast as humanly possible, abandoned the scheduled practice, and celebrated. Officers and enlisted men alike assumed there would be no more fighting to end the war. This assumption proved valid. The war ended on September 2, 1945, less than one month later. Our next assignment was to occupy Japan. Because I had earned considerable combat credit, I did not occupy Japan, but was allowed to return home as soon as transportation could be made available. I arrived to good old USA, via the General Housey, a troop transport, which docked at San Pedro, California on December 17, 1945. I joined my family in Salt Lake City for Christmas and was honorably discharged at Fort Douglas, Utah on March 21, 1946.

I returned to my former position as a chemist for Utah Oil Refining Company (Now Amoco Oil Company and later BP) on January 21, 1946, while still on military leave from the Army. Everything went well for us after the war. Marjorie, my darling wife, soon presented me with a second son. Richard Walter Thomsen was born in 1950. Now that we totaled four in our family and recognizing the possibility of more, we purchased a new home which was considerably larger than the first home we owned. We are still living in the home we purchased in 1951 and plan to remain in this home which is located at 2436 Emerson Avenue in Salt Lake City for the rest of our useful lives.

Prior to moving into our new home on Emerson Ave, Marjorie and Roger both joined the LDS Church. They both joined the church on February 13, 1952. I had been baptized when I was 8 years old. Richard, our second son was baptized on July 1, 1958 by me when he was 8 years old. At that time, we all became very active in the LDS Church.

Roger married Claudia Ann Springman on March 19, 1960 and graduated in the spring of 1963 with a Bachelor Degree in Ceramic Engineering. Roger now manages Coor's porcelain plant at Grand Junction Colorado. He and Claudia have four children.

Richard, my younger son, completed a two year mission (from August of 1969 to August of 1971) in Denmark. Richard wanted Marjorie and me to meet him in Denmark when he had finished his mission assignment. As an inducement, he offered us his life time savings to help pay for the cost of our trip. We could not accept his financial help, but did accept his offer to join him in Denmark at the conclusion of his mission. While in Denmark, we became acquainted with many of our relatives. We also toured through some of the main cities in many of the other European countries. Since our three week tour of Europe was too short to see many of the places we wanted to visit, we returned the following year for a five week tour. After his mission, Richard resumed his studies at the University of Utah and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor Degree in Business and a Major in Finance.

Richard married his dream girl, Marilyn Breinholt, on June 8, 1973. They now have four children. Richard also recently received another degree from the University. After many night classes, he obtained his Masters degree in Business Administration. He is currently employed by Valley Bank & Trust where he is their Chief Loan Officer. Richard is and always has been a gem. He has been an ideal example of perfection. His goodness has inspired me to become a better person. He has always been helpful to me in many ways.

I am proud of both of my sons. They are ambitious and productive. Both are contributing valuable services to their respective communities.

After my military assignment was completed, my life has also been productive. During my career with Amoco Oil's Company's refinery, I have received several advancements at periodic intervals. Advancements resulted from my efforts to develop new and better products, to solve important technical problems in operations, to reduce operating costs, and to reduce man power. A summary of the positions I held through¬out my working career are included on the attached summary of important dates in my life.

My wife, Marjorie, is by far the most important person in my life. She has shared the good times we have had together and stood firm by my side when I needed her help. She has helped me overcome many problems we have encountered during our lives. She has continually shared each and every part of her life with me.

I retired January 1st of 1978 so that Marjorie and I could spend the remaining years of our life on earth in a glorious extended honey¬moon. We both still love the mountains, and plan to spend our spare time in a log cabin at Brighton. We purchased the cabin in 1977, anticipating retirement. We plan to continue doing things together throughout the remainder of our lives on earth and also throughout eternity.

Written by Walter C. Thomsen, January 14, 1980
Written by Walter C. Thomsen, January 14, 1980

Father and Mother enjoyed retirement and were constant companions. They frequently visited their grandchildren, often taking them to McDonald’s for hamburgers and fries. In early spring, they would spend one or two weeks at the Cove in La Jolla, San Diego, that included visiting their friends the Eppersons in Vista. Summers were spent at their cabin in Brighton. Falls often included a trip to Denver to visit Roger and his family and for reunions with war buddies. They enjoyed a cruise to the Caribbean and a trip to Hawaii. Sundays were spent at church and in visiting family. Father had the health and investments to enjoy his retirement.

Father was very health conscience. Smoking and drinking were eliminated in the 1950’s. Later in life, he became very mindful of diet. He limited the amount of fat and enjoyed his oatmeal. He frequently played golf, walked the course, and refused to use golf carts. He exercised daily and sometimes jogged. He was strong and could easily hike to the tops of all the peaks surrounding his log cabin in Brighton. Based on his parents’ genetics, he was taking care of his health in order to live to be ninety. Like his mother and his grandfather, Jens Jensen, his mind was as sharp as it had always been. His wife’s health was not as good, and he planned to take good care of her. Life can have it ironies.

In 1978, the family began to notice that Dad’s logic was slipping. On a trip to San Diego that year, we noticed that his driving ability was declining. The disease of Alzheimer became a disease our family became all too acquainted with. Mother lived with it daily; seeing small pieces of her husband slip away every day. In 1982, the doctor confirmed the disease. Later that year, Father informed his mother about the disease. In that year, he stopped driving his yellow Volkswagen bug. As father was slipping, Grandmother Thomsen seemed to loose her will to live. With Mom now taking care of Dad, Marilyn and I took care of grandmother. Having her die in our home in West Valley on July 3, 1983, was a peaceful and spiritual experience for Marilyn and me.

Mother’s kind care of Father was remarkable; her hope of remedy was against bad odds. Mother had taken care of her father and her mother who suffered from dementia. Having this again happen did not seem fair. As Father slipped day by day, care became around the clock. In early 1985, Father was unable to walk, and Mother was exhausted from the twenty-four hour care. Against Mother’s desires, I convinced her that Father’s care was beyond her ability, and he was placed in a care center. In May 1986, Mom enjoyed a well deserved vacation to Florida and Georgia with my family. Father spent his last months at St Joseph Villa. The Catholic sisters provided kindness and love that is not always found in care centers. As Father was dieing, the head Catholic sister sweetly spoke The Lord’s Prayer, showing her care, concern, and faith.

Father died on September 8, 1986. He was buried at Sunset Lawns on 1300 South and 2300 East in Salt Lake City. Uncle Jack White, without voice from being deaf, blessed the grave using sign language.

Written by Richard W. Thomsen

Summary of Important Dates in My Life

July 15, 1915
August 1, 1915
August 25, 1923
September 2, 1923
May 1, 1927
November 3, 1929
May 19, 1938
June 7, 1938
July 25, 1938
June 2, 1941
September 12, 1942
January 21, 1946
March 21, 1946
July 1, 1947
January 1, 1949
January 1, 1950
February 26, 1952
November 9, 1952
July 11, 1954
November 13, 1957
Fall of 1959
February 1, 1962
September 10, 1963
January 1, 1973
January 1, 1978
Born at 1314 West Pacific Ave in Salt Lake City, Utah
Blessed by Robert Pullen in Salt Lake City
Baptized by Luther Crockett in Salt Lake Tabernacle
Confirmed by Lucas enema
Ordained Deacon by Christian 0 Jensen, an Uncle
Ordained Teacher by Christian 0 Jensen, an Uncle
Employed by Utah Oil Refinery Co as Chemist
Graduated from University of Utah & Major in Chemistry
Married Marjorie June White by Bishop Christian 0 Jensen, an Uncle
First boy was born. He was named Roger Walter Thomsen
Ordered to active duty as Lt in U S Army
Promoted to Capt. of Co. B, 826 T D Bn.
Returned to Utah Oil Refinery, Co. as Chemist
Honorably Discharged from U S Army
Promoted to Research Chemist
Promoted to Operating Foreman
Promoted to leader in Research Dept.
Marjorie and Roger joined the L D S Church
Richard Walter Thomsen was born, our 2nd son
Ordained Priest by Robert R Child
Ordained Elder by LaVere Adams
Endowed and Sealed Sons in S L Temple by Raymond Clayton
Completed 3 yr. course in Business Administration at U of U
Promoted to Head Engineer in Technical Service Dept.
Promoted to Chief Technologist in Technical Service
Promoted to Superintendent of Technical Services & Laboratories
Retired after 40 years of service with Amoco Oil Company

Note. A member of the American Chemical Society during working years.
Registered Professional Engineer in Utah, License No. 2017

Walter & his Grandmother, Dorthea Jensen in 1915
Walter & his Grandmother, Dorthea Jensen in 1915
Walter in 1922 with cousins Dorothy and Camilla
Walter in 1922 with cousins Dorothy and Camilla
Walter in Feb 1917
Walter in Feb 1917
Checking out the phone
Walter in about 1926
Walter in about 1926
Model-T Ford
Walter with tailored suit made by his mother Helena
Walter with tailored suit made by his mother Helena
Walter in 1935
Walter in 1935
Captain Thomsen in 1942
Captain Thomsen in 1942
Walter and Marjorie around 1970
Walter and Marjorie around 1970
The Thomsen men in 1956
The Thomsen men in 1956
Left to Right: Christian, Richard, Walter, Roger
Brighton, Utah in 1980
Brighton, Utah in 1980
½ mile from Sunset Peak
Family in 1963
Family in 1963
Roger, Catherine, Walter, Marjorie and Richard
Skiing in Brighton in about 1935
Skiing in Brighton in about 1935
On a troop carrier headed to the Philippines in 1945
On a troop carrier headed to the Philippines in 1945
Walter did not enjoy the army or the war.  Walter took this samurai sword from a Japanese military officer after killing him in self-defense.
Walter did not enjoy the army or the war. Walter took this samurai sword from a Japanese military officer after killing him in self-defense.
The barracks for Captain Thomsen who led 700 men
The barracks for Captain Thomsen who led 700 men
The setting appears peaceful but there was no time for picture taking until war-end.
The setting appears peaceful but there was no time for picture taking until war-end.
Captain Thomsen’s Jeep
Captain Thomsen’s Jeep
In front of Company B sign in the Philippines
In front of Company B sign in the Philippines