Dean Elwood Tollefson
March 1, 1932 – September 16, 2022
Dean Elwood Tollefson of Colorado Springs passed peacefully at home after a recent diagnosis of acute leukemia.
Dean’s 90 years of adventures started with a home birth on the farm in Willow Lake, South Dakota, to Ada Anderson Tollefson and Morgan Lorenzo Tollefson. Dean was playing the piano and singing harmony by ear at age 7 and later performed in a vocal quartet while a student at Augustana College, where he graduated with a double major in sociology and philosophy/religion. Dean was a legal officer for two years in the Marine Corps, after which he pursued doctoral studies at Southern Illinois University in college administration and philosophy. Dean’s formal career centered on inter-collegiate cooperation and consortium work, first as Vice President at the Kansas City Regional Council for Higher Education and then as the Executive Director of the Union of Independent Colleges of Art. After moving to Colorado Springs in the mid-1980s, Dean cared for an uncle and his mother. He subsequently taught philosophy at Pikes Peak Community College and served as community chaplain to perform numerous inter-faith weddings and naming ceremonies in the Colorado Springs area.
Dean was a man of many passions and strong opinions. He was a voracious reader, lover of music and art and enjoyed listening to and exploring new thoughts and ideas. A creative problem-solver, he could always think outside the box and find the good in people. He and Brenda traveled frequently, visiting family and friends and creating new connections along the way.
Dean’s active community engagement included offering philosophical courses for Pillar; facilitating spiritual exploration; and working to strengthen the interpersonal bonds that are the backbone of a community. Dean was a long-standing member of the Sons of Norway, ACLU, the League of Women Voters, the Colorado Springs Chorale, the Kansas City and Colorado Springs chapters of the United Nations Association, and Pikes Peak Detachment 29, Marine Corps League.
Dean is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 31 years, Brenda Mensink; sister Rosalie Brodin; children Nancy (Randy Switser), Tod, Daniel (Linda), Eric, and Ingrid (Troy Cusey), daughter of his ex-wife Serena Sutton; grandchildren Mariann, Sara, Nikki, Jakob, Bobbi, Berit, Brokk, Clara and Berend; and 12 great-grandchildren. Dean was pre-deceased by his ex-wife Carol Fedde, his sisters Arla Mae Shultz and Claryce Stormo and eldest son, Timothy.
An open house celebration of Dean’s life will be held Sunday October 2nd from 1pm to 3pm at the Sons of Norway Lodge, 1045 Ford St., Colorado Springs. Inurnment is planned for summer 2023 at Collins Cemetery in Willow Lake, South Dakota. Donations may be made to a charity of your choice supporting music, animal welfare, veterans, and/or community gardens.
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