Tjossem—Lawrence Tjossem, 93, on April 4, 2023, at Barthell Eastern Star Assisted Living in Decorah, Iowa. He was born on November 14, 1929, in Primghar, Iowa, to Merle and Ellen Moffitt Tjossem. Lawrence grew up on a farm in the Quaker community of Mapleside, Iowa. His parents raised him in the Quaker tradition of a non-pastoral meeting for worship, speaking the plain language of thee and thy. He lived his life exemplifying this influence for truth, peace, equality, and social justice. He approached others with the operating principle of “there is that of God in each one,” respecting and defending the underdog and the downtrodden.
Lawrence attended early high school in Paullina, Iowa, where he excelled in academics, sports, and music. He then followed the family tradition of attending Olney Friends School in Barnesville, Ohio. This environment was a welcomed experience where he found those of common heritage and beliefs. He proceeded to William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he studied business administration. This is where he met his future wife, Kathryn White.
At this time he was of the age to register for the draft. Because he was a lifelong Quaker, he was afforded conscientious objector status. He would have had the opportunity to work in a hospital or place of community benefit. Lawrence believed that anyone, not just those from designated peace churches, should be able to choose, according to their conscience, whether to register for the draft. He did not register. Because of this conviction he served nine months in the federal prison in Springfield, Mo.
Lawrence married Kathryn White in 1950 and farmed for a short while with his father in Paullina. They moved to Decorah where Lawrence worked for his father-in-law, Bernard White, for White Transport. Lawrence attended Luther College in Decorah and built the family home of 72 years. Lawrence and Kathryn raised four children: Judy, Cindy, Greg, and Steve. They supported and complemented each other in all aspects of their life together.
Lawrence played an integral role in the establishment and ongoing success of Hawkeye Stages, a charter bus and motorcoach rental company. He provided leadership for 55 years, working with his sisters-in-law, Bunni White Cooper and Myrna White Mardock; his brothers-in-law, Ed Wells and Marv Cooper; and other family members. His influence continues to this day. After retirement he enjoyed the opportunity to return to his roots, farming again on his Christmas tree farm, Evergreen Hills.
Lawrence provided wise counsel to his family and many who knew him. He enjoyed engaging in conversation with friends and strangers alike. He showed interest in each person’s life story and beliefs. His ongoing enjoyment in life was being with Kathryn.
Lawrence was predeceased by his wife, Kathryn White Tjossem; parents, Merle and Ellen Moffitt Tjossem; a brother, Wilmer Tjossem (Joan); two sisters, Mary Ellen Tjossem Barnett and Ardith Tjossem; some members of Kathryn’s family; a son-in-law; and a great-grandson.
He is survived by four children, Judy Tjossem, Cindy Tjossem Mychajlysyn (Roman), Greg Tjossem (Karen), and Steve Tjossem (Kari); five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.