Cover photo for Carolyn Suzanne Heuer Tonneson's Obituary
1946 Carolyn 2022

Carolyn Suzanne Heuer Tonneson

October 30, 1946 — December 1, 2022

Carolyn Suzanne Heuer burst into this world on October 30, 1946, in Bertha, Minnesota, the youngest of eight children born to Selma Caroline (Rosenberg) Heuer and William C. F. Heuer. She was baptized in November, with her brother Don and sister Maxine as her godparents. Carolyn grew up on a farm two-and-a-half miles south of Bertha, Minnesota. She was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where she was confirmed in 1960. She attended school at Bertha-Hewitt, and graduated valedictorian in 1964.

Carolyn was only six when she became an aunt for the first time. Following that first nephew came 27 more nieces and nephews, whom Carolyn treasured dearly. Throughout most of her life, she could recite the birthdays of all 28. She remained close to many of them as they journeyed through life together.

Carolyn attended Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, graduating with honors in Elementary Education and Music in 1967. Carolyn met her husband Jim Tonneson at Concordia. All the years they were married they celebrated the  anniversary of their first date, which was April 21,1965. They were married June 24,1967 in Bertha. Jim was a seminarian, so Carolyn dutifully followed him from St. Paul to Bothell, Washington, back to St. Paul, to McVille, North Dakota, to Jamestown, North Dakota, to Rochester, Minnesota, to Fergus Falls, Minnesota (where they raised their family), and finally, back to St. Paul.

Carolyn didn’t miss a beat as far as her own career. Right out of college she  taught second grade in Fridley, Minnesota and Bothell, Washington. She also taught private piano lessons in Fergus Falls. After three children were added to the family, she went back to earn her master’s degree in Counseling from North Dakota State University, driving over 12,000 miles between Fergus Falls and Fargo. That’s when Jim learned to be a full-time parent, cook, do dishes and wash clothes! She graduated in 1982.

Carolyn became a clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. After 11 years at LSS, Carolyn was named Regional Vice President, overseeing all LSS programs in the  northwestern quarter of the state. After leaving LSS in 1996, she started a consulting business, and then held several executive positions with nonprofits in both Fergus and the Twin Cities.

Carolyn and Jim were blessed (and she means blessed!!) with three children – Mark, Scott, and Kimi. When the children were young, they took many family trips, almost always camping, because that’s what they could afford as a family. They had great times as they explored the sights around the United States.

At the age of 72, Carolyn fulfilled a lifelong dream of volunteering overseas and spent a month in Mombasa, Kenya working in a Women’s Empowerment Center, and a primary school. Upon her return, she founded the nonprofit Peter’s Hope, which became her passion for the last several years. She and Peter Ochieng, the director of the school and women’s center, worked together to bring better opportunities for education and empowerment to the children and women of Bamburi, Kenya. Carolyn’s legacy will live on through Peter’s Hope as they continue to carry out the vision of Carolyn and Peter.

Carolyn loved many things: traveling, reading, music and the arts, her church,  her nonprofit, and most of all—her family. Some of her favorite phrases to hear were: “Hi Honey”, “Hi Mom”, “Hi Grandma”. Carolyn just plain loved life and tried to live each day with a positive attitude. She beat two kinds of cancer and came out a stronger person. Her son, Mark, once gave her a teddy bear that said, “colon cancer picked the wrong chick!” So true! Unfortunately, this third cancer was stronger than she was, and despite a good attitude and great care, she was not able to overcome it.

Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Don and Jerry; and  sister Mona. She is survived by her husband, Jim; children, Mark (Tami), Scott (Jennifer Thorson), and Kimi; two grandchildren, Owen and Noah; sister and brothers Maxine, Wally, Jim, and Chuck. She is also survived by a plethora of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Carolyn’s life was full of blessings, and she gives credit to the Divine for each and every opportunity she had to touch the lives of other people.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, 2022, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, with a reception to follow at the church. The service will also be live-streamed; to join go to and look for the funeral link, or choose “Join online worship.”

Memorials are preferred to Peter’s Hope or Gloria Dei Lutheran Church . All memorials should be mailed to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, MN, 55116.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Carolyn Suzanne Heuer Tonneson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

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