PEORIA – Michelle Thies had a way of making friends wherever she went – a fact that was evident when more than 500 people attended her visitation.
A real estate agent, a mother of two and a lifelong resident of central Illinois, Thies, 44, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm Feb. 23.
The well-attended visitation was a great comfort to her family.
“Most all of them had a great story to tell, and we greatly appreciated them,” said Thies’ father, Dennis Grieder. “We knew she had lots of friends, but you don’t really get the total scope of it until you see something like that. There were friends and teachers from grade school that had stories about her. She made an impression from the time she hit the ground. There were people, college friends of hers, one friend who … got in his vehicle and drove here from South Dakota and turned right around and had to get back to South Dakota the next morning. And many, many friends from the Chicago area. She had a group of college girlfriends that were like sisters to her.”
Truly interested in people
Theresa Delano, who became friends with Thies after moving into her neighborhood in 2017, said Thies befriended her at their very first meeting.
“At our daughters’ preschool graduation, she told me exactly which house was hers, and that I had an open invitation to her house every Friday night,” said Delano. “She always had the right questions to ask. If I was going through a hard time, especially last year, losing two people very close to me, I would sit there until 2 a.m. in her garage chatting. She made you feel like you could just open up because she was so warm and welcoming, and truly interested in people.”
Thies grew up in Congerville and Normal, attending Normal High School and later attending Southern Illinois University, where she studied psychology, said her father. After graduating from college, she got a job in Peoria at Children’s Home, where she met her husband, Brandon Thies.
“She and her husband were a great team. They did a great job with the girls,” said Grieder of his granddaughters, Marin, 12, and Audrey, 10.
She had just started her dream job
Thies transitioned into real estate about 18 years ago and started working with The Knell Group in January, said team leader Amy Weaver.
“Her best friend sent me a message a few days after her passing and said, ‘It’s really too bad, the timing, because this was her dream job, and she was so excited to become part of your group because she felt like she had made it in the real estate industry.’ That was a heartbreaker,” said Weaver.
Thies had just recently posed for her promotional portraits, said Weaver. Those images are included in materials agents give out to new clients.
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“All of those marketing materials had just got done printing the week before she passed. When I went to my first presentation after she passed, I opened it up to introduce my team, and it kind of took my breath away,” said Weaver.
Thies was well-liked by everyone on the six-person team, as well as by agents around Peoria, said Weaver.
“Whenever you worked with her, you were happy,” said Weaver. “You knew it was going to go smoothly.”
Never minimize long-lasting headaches or unusual neck pain
Weaver was texting back and forth with Thies on the day she died. Thies hadn’t felt well the day before, and was debating whether or not to come into work for a meeting.
“Her neck was really bothering her, and her vision was blurry,” said Weaver.
Because Thies frequently suffered from headaches, she did not immediately respond to her symptoms.
“Never minimize long-lasting headaches or unusual neck pain,” said Thies’ father.
About 6.5 million Americans, or 1 out of 50, have an unruptured brain aneurysm, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. About 30,000 people in the United States suffer a brain aneurysm rupture each year. Women, particularly those over the age of 55, have a higher risk of brain aneurysm rupture than men – about 1.5 times the risk.
Weaver, who had told Thies to stay home that morning, got a call a little before 9 a.m. from Brandon Thies shortly after his wife collapsed.
“He said he was on his way to the hospital and would keep me posted,” she said. Weaver was at a client’s house when she missed Brandon Thies’ next call.
“He was letting me know that she had passed. At that point, I was 45 minutes away from the office, and I knew I had to let the girls know right away before it got through the grapevine. It was horrible. It was the last thing that any of us expected,” said Weaver.
Michelle’s passing has left a great hole in many lives. Delano said she has taken comfort in the words of a friend.
“‘When someone asked, ‘Why did Michelle have to leave so early?’ Cindy Bousky, a Kellar (Primary School) teacher and a neighbor, said, ‘She was perfect in God’s eyes. We may still be on earth because we are not perfect. But at that point in time, Michelle was perfect, and she was ready to go,'” Delano recounted. “So sad and beautiful, and so true.”
Leslie Renken can be reached at 309-370-5087 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.
This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Peoria real estate agent Michelle Thies dies of aneurysm at 44