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The Thede kids of Davenport don’t know what it means to miss a day of school. There is something in their genes.

At 11 this morning, Marissa Thede will graduate from Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa. She will get a bachelor’s degree without missing a day of school in 18 years, going back to her preschool days.

Her brother, Gregory, graduated from Western Illinois University in 2009 without missing a day of school in 17 years.

Their parents, Glen and Debbie Thede, have two other kids on the same track. 

Shelby Thede, 13, a seventh-grader, has never missed a day of school.

Natalie Thede, 10, a fourth-grader, has never missed a day of school.


“IT’S UNCANNY,” their mom says. They were never pushed. “Our children are just determined to never miss a single school day.”

With 18 years of perfect attendance, Marissa is one year up on her older brother, Greg, who has only a trifling 17 years.

“We took Greg out of preschool for a family vacation. Otherwise he would have had 18 years without missing a day, too,” Debbie says.

It just happens that if they’re going to get sick, they do so on days when there is no school or during vacations. 


“IN THIRD GRADE, Marissa broke an arm.  She was in a cast overnight and next day was back in school,” Debbie says. “In eighth grade, she broke a thumb while catching softball. There was a cast, but she was back in class without missing a day.”

Marissa explains her perfect attendance “as being focused.” She says, “I’ve been determined never to miss school. I put my heart into it. If I was going to be sick, it was during summer vacation.”

After preschool, Gregory and Marissa attended Trinity Lutheran through ninth grade. After that, they graduated from Central High. Their siblings attend Trinity. 

Tony Shull, who was the principal at Trinity when Greg and Marissa were students, used to say he could have given them a key to the school because they were always there.

Melody Bina, the Trinity Lutheran secretary for 15 years, says, “It’s an amazing tradition of the Thede kids. They’re great students.”


MARISSA intends to keep on going with her education, getting a master’s degree. She has no intention of missing a day on the way.

Her brother, Greg, is in the finance department of the Deere credit union. He has been there two years.  He has never missed a day of work.

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Major and minor mentions

“MY DAD, CARY GRANT” is an interesting piece of nostalgia in the Parade magazine supplement that will be in this Sunday’s Quad-City Times. Pictures, notes and postcards are from his daughter, Jennifer Grant, who tells how “He loved sweets, ‘60 Minutes’ and me.” Grant, as we all should know, died in Davenport.


A CLASSY LITTLE SHOW, Circus Pages, made its annual appearance a few days ago in an exhibit hall of the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. Performers were excited to be in a town where the circus movie, “Water for Elephants,” was showing. James Earhart, the ringmaster, was so enthused by the best-selling book that he said he read it twice.


DON’T YOU JUST LOVE KIDS? Mary Swander, the 2009 poet laureate of the state of Iowa, was speaking to Davenport Central High School kids during her induction to the school’s Hall of Honor. One piped up about the “laureate” honor, asking whether she had ever been a cowboy. He jibed that laureate sounded like “lariat.”


Contact Bill Wundram at (563) 383-2249 or

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