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Robert Watts Thornburg

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Robert Watts Thornburg Obituary
Robert Watts Thornburg

Boston , MA

Robert Watts Thornburg, Dean Emeritus of Boston University, passed away at his winter home in Florida, on December 29th, 2013.

He was a United Methodist (UMC) Minister, serving parish churches in Chicago, Northbrook and Peoria, IL, before becoming the Associate General Secretary of the UMC Board of Higher Education and Ministry. From 1978 until his retirement in 2001, Robert was Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, with responsibility for the religious activities at the University, as well as serving on the faculty of the School of Theology. Throughout his life, he was also a trustee and member of numerous charitable, religious and educational organizations, often in leadership roles.

He is survived by his second wife of 35 years, Ann; his twin brother, Richard (Peabody, MA) and his sister, Mary Cooper (Rochester, NY); his children, Beth Thornburg (Ashland City, TN), Rob Thornburg (Allentown, PA), Judy Zimmerman (Franklin, TN), Anne Mann (Eugene, OR); 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren; and his first wife, Carol Thornburg (Nashville, TN).

A private service for the family was held in Florida. A Memorial service will be held on February 15th at 1 p.m., at Marsh Chapel at Boston University. The complete obituary can be found online at

Shikany's Bonita Funeral Home, (239) 992-4982.

Published in The Tennessean on Jan. 9, 2014
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