Rosalie Brown Thunder, Educator, passed away Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. She was surrounded by family and loved ones in her home at the Indian Mission in Wisconsin.
Rosalie was born May 27, 1940, in Tomah, to Myron Funmaker and Marian (Stacy) White. She attended primary school at Hochunk-gra School and completed her secondary education at the age of 16, at Black River Falls High School. She received her bachelor of science degree in psychology from Northeastern University in Chicago, and her master’s in education from Penn State University. She then obtained a Doctorate of Philosophy in Education Policy, also at Penn State.
Rosalie was a wife, a mother, a sister, and a most beloved grandmother, as well as a dedicated mentor and educator. Her family is most proud of her lifetime commitment of instilling the importance of education to everyone she knew and loved. She was a gifted musician. She enjoyed playing the piano, the trumpet, the guitar, the bass, the organ and she loved to sing. Many contemporary musicians/artists credit Rosalie for introducing them to music by providing music lessons and encouragement.
Rosalie taught in many schools across Minnesota and Wisconsin. She began her teaching career in Chicago, as a Head Start teacher for the American Indian Center. She returned to Black River Falls in 1974, where she continued her love of teaching as an education coordinator for the Black River Falls School District. In 1983, she accepted a teaching position in Minneapolis, with the Heart of the Earth Survival School. It was during this time that her passion for education led her to achieve the leadership position of school principal at Heart of The Earth. Also, during this time she was responsible for this school obtaining state accreditation. In 1987, she was the recipient of the prestigious Minnesota Peace Prize for her success in the field of education. She gave many students guidance and inspired those around her to achieve higher education. In 1994, Rosalie served as the education director for the Ho-chunk nation, where she was a passionate advocate for teaching the Ho-Chunk language. She assisted in creating the lexicon and curriculum that continues to be used to this day. She was always a teacher, counselor, tutor, and inspirer to Ho-chunk youth. She supported and encouraged Ho-Chunk youth to achieve their educational endeavors. She taught up to 73 kids a day, four days a week. In 2014, she was recognized for these efforts and was honored as the Wisconsin Indian Educator of the Year.
Rosalie loved to travel and experience the world with her family. She loved to visit with her many friends. She loved to spend time at the casino. She loved to play bingo. Her favorite thing to do was to support and cheer on her children while they performed on stage or competed on the field and ice. Many times, one could hear her in the stands cheering for her children and even louder for her grandchildren. She played the organ for her church and served on the consistory of the church for many years. She was a member of many boards and service organizations.
She is survived by her children, Melissa Johnson of Black River Falls, Joseph (Simone) Brown Thunder of Falcon Heights, Minn., John (Vera) Brown Thunder of Maricopa, Ariz., and Tedd Brown Thunder of Black River Falls, Jay Williams of Minneapolis. She is also survived by her beloved grandchildren, Lief Kimball, Daelisa Johnson, Emma Brown Thunder, Taylor Brown Thunder, Brooke Brown Thunder, Elise Brown Thunder, Elias Brown Thunder, and Sophia Brown Thunder. Other family member she is survived by include, uncle, George Stacy; aunt, Arlene Keahna; brothers, Dallas (Mary) White and Glen White; sisters, Faye White, Gale White, and Sherry White; and numerous aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held at noon Tuesday at the Hocak United Church of Christ in the Indian Mission, Wis.
Buswell Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements.The family would like to recognize and thank the staff and volunteers of Ho-Chunk Nation Health Care Center and Black River Falls Hospice for providing excellent care with a personal touch for our beloved Rosalie.