His Life
Jonathon J. Thull  May 2, 1960 - October 14, 2020

“So together we move forward embracing whatever may happen. And together, our love is the greatest treasure we share.”  Jonathon Thull – April 12, 2020

Jonathon Jay Thull, 60, of Iowa City, IA, left this earth October 14 after a long battle with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer of the plasma cells. Over the course of more than six years, Jonathon exhausted all FDA approved treatments and was in the midst of his second clinical trial, when he suffered multiple organ failure from the CAR-T cell therapy received on September 28 at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Aware of the risks and passionate to assist in cancer research, Jonathon along with his wife, Nancy, were proud to contribute to the advancement of promising treatments.

Jonathon, as partner, sibling, son, friend, colleague and mentor, touched many lives. He was an irrepressible spirit of pure light and joy and modeled the true essence of deep faith and spirituality, inspiring and enriching the lives of all who crossed his path. As a teacher, Jonathon leaves a legacy of impact that will echo through generations of musicians and artists in ever expanding ripples.

Nancy Hagen, the love of his life, became his wife on November 11, 2000 and they made their home in Iowa City, IA. They shared many interests and through their insatiable creativity and his carpentry skills, they created a garden sanctuary and designed and built a major addition to their home, carrying out much of the work on their own. Many special moments were spent escaping on the Adirondacks by the firepit observing hummingbirds, sunsets and full moons.

When Jonathon wasn’t teaching or spending time with Nancy, he could be found cantoring at St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church, helping others with their building projects, out golfing, or traveling to visit family with fishing often a highlight. He adored his family.

Jonathon was born on May 2, 1960 to Raymond and Alice (Kramer) Thull in Minneapolis, MN and was baptized at Annunciation Catholic Church in Minneapolis, MN. He received the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation at Our Lady of Victory Church in Lucan, MN and attended Our Lady of Victory Grade School, graduating from Wabasso High School in 1978.

Jonathon holds a D.M.A. degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy and an M.A. degree in Opera Theatre Direction from the University of Iowa. At the University of Minnesota, he earned an M.M. degree in Choral Conducting as well as completed course work toward an M.M in Vocal Performance. Jonathon received his B.A. in music from The University of St. Thomas, formerly The College of St. Thomas.

Jonathon taught at William Penn College, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Muscatine Community College and in 1997, was hired by Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA as a voice instructor where he maintained an active studio until retirement in 2016. His pursuit of student performance opportunities led to the founding of Cornell College's Lyric Theatre in 1998 that evolved and merged into full-scale stage collaborations with Cornell's Theatre Department. Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre afforded additional opportunities where he served as stage director, designer and master carpenter for their Young Artist Program as well as chorus master for several main stage productions.

In 2005, Jonathon joined the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA as a yearlong voice faculty replacement and served until 2014 in a variety of capacities including stage director, production manager, technical director, properties master, designer, and master carpenter for UNI Lyric Theatre and Opera Ensemble. In addition, he was a voice instructor and taught courses in opera performance, advanced vocal performance, and survey classes of art song and opera.

Equally at home on either side of the "curtain", as a baritone/director/conductor, Jonathon has more than 75 opera, operetta, and musical theatre credits to his name. He appeared with Minnesota Opera, Opera St. Paul, North Star Opera Company, and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. As a performer, he created the title role in productions of The Marriage of Figaro, Man of La Mancha, and Sweeney Todd. He premiered lead roles in Peter Press' Muscatine! The Musical, Jonathan Chenette’s Eric Hermannson’s Soul, Libby Larsen’s Christina Romana, the North American premiere of Rachmaninov’s Aleko and Wendy Kesselman’s musical theatre drama The Black Monk. Stage direction credits include Die Fledermaus, Game of Chance, Dido and Aeneas, Mozart's Magical Mayhem, Opera Blocks: Benjamin Britten and Friends, The Lady with the Pet Dog (world premiere), Little Red's Most Unusual Day, Jack and the Beanstalk, Gianni Schicchi, The Stoned Guest, The Secret Garden, Man of La Mancha, Così fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, and Kiss Me, Kate. The Lady with the Pet Dog stands apart as a unique accomplishment for Jonathon, in that he collaborated with the composer not only as conductor and stage director, but as co-librettist to bring the one-act opera to life.

Jonathon showed us all how to live and how to die – with courage, kindness and joy. His passing leaves a deep void and he will be greatly missed. Jonathon is survived by his wife, Nancy Hagen; parents Ray and Alice Thull; sisters Kathy Bodger (Charles) and Sandra Barner (Bjorn); and brother Joe Thull (Sara); numerous nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, many cousins and friends. Blessed be his Memory!

A private family Memorial Mass will be held in Lucan, MN in December and public celebration of life events will be held on May 2 in Iowa City, IA and a Memorial Mass on Saturday, July 31, 10:30 a.m. at our Lady of Victory in Lucan. Updated event details will be available here as they become available. 

Jonathon's life work centered on enriching the lives of his students. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials or donations be made to help establish the Jonathon Thull Memorial Fund which will be used to assist the voice and opera department at the University of Northern Iowa. Checks should be made payable to Nancy Hagen and sent to: 

Nancy Hagen
P.O. Box 3190
Iowa City, IA 52244