Madison - Long-time Madison resident and active First Baptist Church member, Harold Rasmussen, passed away in his sleep on the evening of Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Harold was born on May 17, 1915, on a dairy farm near Whitehall, Wisconsin, the youngest of eight children born to Lewis and Marie Caroline (Anderson) Rasmussen. Although his mother was actually from Sweden, Harold's parents both immigrated to the US from Norway. However, they did not become acquainted with each other until they met in Wisconsin. Mr. Rasmussen served as a Baptist minister and later became a farmer.
Harold went to high school in Whitehall, Wis., where he excelled in basketball and baseball. After graduating, he attended LaCrosse State Teachers College for two years, pursuing a degree in coaching, before transferring to UW Madison. In 1939 he graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dairy Manufacturing from the School of Agriculture.
During his time at the University, Harold met his future wife, Thelma Allen, at the Wayland Club, an outreach program of the Baptist campus ministry. Thelma and Harold were married on September 21, 1940. Immediately after graduation, Harold accepted employment with the Nestle Company in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. During WWII, he worked in the testing and manufacturing of evaporated milk to be used by the armed forces. After living in various locations, the couple settled in Madison in 1947 and have lived in the same house for over 65 years.
For many years Harold worked for Miles Laboratories, where he held the position of Supervisor, Microbiological Control. Eventually Miles was bought out by Bayer, Inc. Harold continued with Bayer until his retirement. He was highly respected as a consultant to cheese factories both here in the US and in France and Spain. Bayer sent him to Europe several times to help struggling cheese makers identify and eliminate impurities in their cheese cultures.
Harold and Thelma have been active members of the First Baptist Church in Madison ever since their days as students at the University of Wisconsin. They sang in the church choir for over 50 years and served on various church boards and committees. Harold was chairman of the board of trustees at the time of the construction of the present church building.
Harold was also an avid golfer and gardener, a skilled carpenter and a loyal fan of Wisconsin sports. For many years he received great enjoyment from being an usher at Wisconsin football and basketball games.
Harold is survived by his wife of 71 years, Thelma; a son, Bruce (Maricela) Rasmussen; a daughter, Lynell (Phil) Raiche; four grandchildren, Clark (Barbara) Baily, Erika (Mike) Lauson, Nathaniel Raiche, Jakki (Mike) Perry; and four great-grandchildren, Justin Baily, Carissa and Casey Lauson, and Joshua Wright, as well as many nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank the caregivers at Agrace HospiceCare as well as the care providers from Independent Living, especially Syndi. Arrangements for cremation have been entrusted to the Cress Funeral and Cremation Service.
A memorial service for Harold will be held at the First Baptist Church of Madison in the near future. Updated details may be found at the Cress website.