Synagogue

JOHN S. THALENFELD

February 4, 2024
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JOHN THALENFELD Obituary

John Thalenfeld, 67, passed away on February 4th. John was a hardworking businessman who successfully operated Trion Industries, a merchandising and manufacturing company his father founded in 1965, for several decades. John will be remembered as a charitable and benevolent leader dedicated to managing his business with integrity and treating his employees with kindness. He took care of Trion’s workers during the difficult years of COVID19 pandemic when the company had to temporarily shut down, and made sure to welcome coworkers to events like golf tournaments, philharmonic concerts, and holiday dinners that fostered community. 


 

John was also a valued philanthropist dedicated to serving his community in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He will be remembered for the time he contributed to many service organizations and his many charitable contributions. He served as chair of the Family Service Association three times, and as Chair of the Jewish Community Alliance. He was also on the board at Temple B’nai Brith and AllOne Charities; Children’s Service Center; Appleseed Foundation; United Way; Highmark/First Priority; Wyoming Valley HealthCare System; and the PNC Regional Advisory Board. John was a loving and generous father and friend, who loved to treat his kids and their friends to the occasional extravagant weekend filled with fine dining and shopping in New York City.


 

John was born on July 17, 1956 in Queens, New York to Lillian and David Thalenfeld. Growing up in Queens, in a scenario fit for a romantic comedy, he lived in the same apartment building as his future wife Mindi, though the two didn’t meet until early adulthood. In 1982, David and Lilian moved Trion, originally located in Queens, and relocated their family to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. John learned the family business from his father Bud, fully taking over when he passed in 2009. John was a loving and beloved son, caring for his parents and visiting them often when they relocated to Naples, Florida in retirement. 


 

John married the artist Mindi Thalenfeld in 1982 and had two children, Rebecca and Adam. John’s relationship with his immediate family could be complicated, and he was not a perfect husband or father. However, despite some significant personal struggles, John had a heart of gold, and was extremely proud of his children, who grew up to continue their father’s legacy of charitable community involvement. His daughter Rebecca served as a counselor to incarcerated individuals, and now works as a counselor at an MAT clinic in Dunmore. His son Adam serves on and leads many charitable boards alongside his father, and the two bonded over their love of service (with a healthy dose of benevolent community gossip and harmless kvetching). John was a proud supporter of his son’s continuation of the legacy of community-minded small business with his bakery, Bread Service PA. Late in his life, and through a difficult health battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome, John’s grandson Elijah brought him so much joy. His energy, infectious laugh, and genetically inherited dry sense of humor delighted John (Elijah called John Grandpa Walk after the walker he needed to use after his illness). 


 

John loved cats, nature walks, and late-night online shopping sessions where he bought eccentric gifts for his children, grandchildren, and friends alike — elaborate glass sculptures of dolphins, towel warmers, and light-up fake jellyfish tanks. He had an enviable collection of original Mid-Century Modern furniture before it was cool, was obsessed with the water feature he had built in his backyard, and made the world’s best pasta, which his children affectionately called Daddy Pasta (it seemed on the surface like it was just angel hair noodles with lots of butter, cheese, and vegetables, but no one was really able to make it taste as good as he could). John loved professional tennis and thoroughly enjoyed sharing this passion with his children, whom he took to the U.S. Open every year where they would all get rowdy in the stands after a few too many Honey Deuce cocktails. 


 

Through his battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome, John was exceptionally touched by individuals who helped him through his recovery, Kim Bonham and Kristina Kogoy and the staff at Allied, ProRehab, and Erwine Home Health, who worked tirelessly to help him regain his strength, mobility, and independence, and Adam and Rebecca could not be more appreciative of their dedication.


 

John is survived by Adam, Rebecca, and Elijah, as well as his life partner Vonda Howell. He was preceded in death by his parents, David (d. 2009) and Lillian (d. 2012) Thalenfeld, in-laws Dolores (d. 2017) and Jerald Amerman (d. 2006), and his former wife Mindi Thalenfeld (d. 2009). He will be greatly missed by friends that felt like family, including Sam Rostock, Julie Robbins, David Koschak, Juliana Petro, Emily Johnson, Ally Proctor, Linda Ross, Amber Riedinger, and many, many others. 


 

The funeral service will be conducted on Wednesday February 7th, 2024 at 11:00am at Temple B’nai Brith Synagogue with a visitation from 10:00am. Interment will follow, with a luncheon at the Friedman JCC in Kingston at 12:30 open to all.


 

Shiva will be observed Wednesday at the Synagogue from 6:00pm until 8:00pm and Thursday at the Family Residence from 6:00pm until 8:00pm.


 

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Thalenfeld Fund of The Luzerne Foundation which will be used to support charities and causes near to John’s heart. Donations can be made online at www.luzfdn.org or mailed to The Luzerne Foundation at 34 South River Street, Wilkes-Barre, Pa 18702.

 

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