Lilli Thorsell

Obituary of Lilli Patrice Thorsell

Lilli Patrice Thorsell, 57, of Oak Hill, Virginia was a cherished wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend to so many people.  She passed away on February 3, 2022, in her home.

Lilli was born in Portsmouth, Virginia to Alfred and Eleanor Katz on February 15, 1964. A 1982 graduate of Kempsville High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Lilli subsequently earned a degree in Microbiology from Virginia Tech in 1986 and a Master of Science Degree with Distinction in Embryology from the University of Leeds in 2002.  She was accomplished at cryopreservation and became an Embryologist for Genetics and IVF Institute in Fairfax, Virginia and advanced to Director of Embryology.  Over her 16 years there, she helped thousands of families have babies through her work in cryopreservation and assisted reproductive medicine.  Lilli introduced techniques from Belgium to the U.S. and developed advanced reproductive techniques using micromanipulation that allowed for single sperm injection and single cell embryo biopsy.  To share her knowledge and skill, she authored, co-authored, and presented multiple scientific journal articles regarding infertility and assisted reproductive technologies. To continue the work she loved, she provided technical and educational services to infertility physicians, nurses, and lab personnel in North and South America at Cook Medical for 2 years.  Lilli’s life passion was helping couples with fertility problems achieve their dreams of having a family.

In addition to Lilli’s medical career, she was a devoted mother and grandmother.  She raised her niece, Lesley, from the age of 13 and Lesley became a daughter for life to Lilli.  She was present for the birth of all three of Lesley’s daughters and they became her granddaughters.  Lilli’s next passion was the raising of her son, Luke.  She never missed his school events, concerts, and especially swim meets, as well as supporting him through all the highs and lows of life from childhood into adulthood.  As she focused on family, Lilli’s work career changed to being self-employed with Locum Embryology Services and she spent 16 years as a self-employed property manager of rental real estate and accounting. 

Lilli had a zest for life, love, and laughter.  Her energy and presence brightened the occasion for all those around her.  She was a gracious host with a selfless desire to make any gathering a memorable experience for guests to her home. The Thorsell family pool offered hours of joy to family and friends. Lilli would always accommodate a traveling family member who needed a meal and a place to rest.  Their time at the Thorsell’s would often become the highlight of their trip.

Despite being the youngest of five siblings, Lilli was the cornerstone for family communication. She was the one to call to keep us connected with family updates. Her tireless efforts to maintain contact within the family served to facilitate reconciliation, which is a testament to how much she cherished her family. Lilli brough harmony and love to our lives.

As in other areas of her life, Lilli generously volunteered as a coordinator for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church youth club and was a member of their Youth Board.  She actively supported community and high school youth swim leagues as an official.  She became an avid Washington Nationals baseball fan from the time they moved to Washington, D.C. through their World Series win in 2019.  As season ticket holders, she and Dean spent time with family and friends at many games at RFK stadium and Nationals Park.  She loved travelling to the Riviera Maya in Mexico, visiting 15 times from 2016 until 2021.  Unsurprisingly, she made many friends there and generously brought family members and friends to enjoy the weather, the food, and the warm welcome of the people of Mexico.

Lilli is survived by her husband Dean Thorsell of Oak Hill, Virginia, their son Luke Thorsell and William and Lesley Laing, her daughter and her grandchildren Eva Laing, Lucy Laing, and Greta Laing.  Her sister Barbara and Todd Lyman; her three brothers; Mike and Judi Katz, Fred Katz, and Keith Katz.  She also is survived by 17 nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her parents Alfred and Eleanor Katz.

A funeral service will be held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1133 Reston Avenue, Herndon, VA on February 18, 2022 at 11:00 am with Reverend Jotham Johann officiating.  A reception will follow at the Fellowship Hall.  The service will be live streamed for those unable or uncomfortable travelling in this environment.  Please use the following link:


She will be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery columbarium, date and time to be determined.


In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made your local cancer support organizations, INOVA Life with Cancer, or the American Cancer Society. 


Funeral Service

11:00 am
Friday, February 18, 2022
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
1133 Reston Avenue
Herndon, Virginia, United States
Share Your Memory of