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Sunspots - Bonnie Thoreen

If one were prone to place a wager, what would be the odds of three sisters--two of them twins--sharing the same birth date?

Bonnie (Solberg) Thoreen and twin sister Lonnie were born June 29, 1948, in Fosston, Minn., "where the prairie meets the pines." Sister Debi was born just seven years later on the very same date. The family lived in Alaska at the time, where Bonnie's father, Lester Solberg, worked as a carpenter.

"Dad built our mobile home of plywood," said Thoreen. Her father also worked on the military base in Fairbanks and built housing on the campus of the University of Alaska. Prior to meeting and marrying Lester when she moved from Renton, Wash. to Minnesota, Thoreen's mother Thelma worked as a riveter at Boeing during World War II.

Now an employee at Keeper's Floral in Morris, Bonnie is a career floral designer and decorator, "although I've never wanted to own my own shop," she said.

While living in Alaska, Thoreen worked for Alaskan Floral. In the 1970s she worked at Bachman Floral in the downtown Dayton's department store and has also worked for shops in Bemidji, Eagan, Moorhead, Minnetonka and Morris. During her employment with Hyland International of Golden Valley, Thoreen decorated shopping malls, banks, and private homes, especially for the holidays.

"I've decorated and created holiday arrangements for Cargill's corporate headquarters as well as for people like the CEO of Target, Kevin McHale of the Timberwolves and Bruce Dayton," said Thoreen.

When Jesse Ventura was inaugurated as Minnesota's governor, Thoreen helped to decorate the governor's mansion. "I've decorated (the late and former Minnesota Twins owner) Carl Pohlad's office at Christmas time."

When asked, Bonnie offered four gems to decorate by: "Don't be afraid to pound a nail in the wall, try to follow a color scheme, surround yourself with the things you like and find something you like and then find a place in your home for it." Thoreen's decorating advice is reflected in her own warm and welcoming home, built in 1950 by the late Bud Schultz of Morris.

In addition to decorating, Thoreen enjoys sewing, knitting and needlework, as well as reading and crossword puzzles. She also cooks (she makes a killer lentil soup) and seldom makes the same thing twice for special occasions. "I enjoy planning a menu."

Bonnie met her now-husband Jim Thoreen in Fosston, where Jim's family owned a variety store. They married in 1971 in Lengby, Minnesota. The Thoreens have three sons - Matt, Tim and Mark - all of whom live in the Twin Cities area. Tim and wife Mary (Hanrahan) have two children, Ida, 3, and Franny, 10 months. Bonnie and Jim share their home with three cats--Mazey, Miss Kitts and Scooter, along with golden doodle Rudy.

The Thoreens enjoy traveling and have visited Mexico in addition to cities across the U.S. A former Stevens County Coordinator and state senate candidate, Jim currently works for Pope County. His political interests have afforded the couple travel opportunities and numerous places to call home. "We've lived longer in Morris than anywhere," said Bonnie.

Bonnie has enjoyed her partnership with Jim on the campaign trail. "I enjoy the events--getting dressed up, talking to people, going to church dinners, parades and talking about issues. We've met really wonderful people, DFL people at the county level who are doing the real work," said Bonnie.

Bonnie is especially passionate about equality for homosexuals and preserving the environment. The Thoreens embrace the Universalist Unitarian religion where "you can come from any religious background and one can offer prayers of well being, human dignity and worth. A children's education class culminates when high school students write their own statement of belief," said Bonnie.

Throughout her busy life as decorator, florist, mother and political wife, Bonnie is most proud of one thing: choosing to keep her marriage together.

"Jim has been a recovering alcoholic for 30 years," said Thoreen. "It got worse after he quit." Through the hills and valleys, "I decided one day to 'stick it out.' It wasn't immediately better. While some people need to leave, it worked for us to stay together. I made the decision to stay married and it kept getting better."