Joe Thurston (1981 - 2013)

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Joe B. Thurston

Prescott Valley, AZ

Cedar City & Southern Utah's native son, Joe Thurston was one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Wildland Firefighters who gave their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Arizona wild fire on Sunday afternoon, June 30, 2013.

Joe was born in Cedar City on February 5, 1981 to parents Arthur Thurston & Gayemarie Ekker.

Joe attended Cedar City schools graduating from Cedar High School in 1999. Joe earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology & Chemistry from Southern Utah University in 2006.

A firefighter and EMT since 2008, Joe was enthusiastic and very service oriented about his work. He was part of the Groom Creek Volunteer Fire District for two years. He was selected for the Elite Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew of Prescott, Arizona. This was his second season with Granite Mountain Hotshots. He was energetic, compassionate, determined, loving, funny, hardworking, and extremely kind. Joe managed to be wildly fun to be around, always rallying the group to the next adventure and the type of guy who's smile filled the room. Dependability and decency radiated from him even at a very young age. A devoted family man, he could always be found at the baseball field or on the floor playing with his boys. He married his high school sweetheart and wife of eleven years, Marsena. He used every day as a new opportunity to show his love to his family.

Joe is survived by his wife, Marsena and his two sons, Ethan, age 7 and Collin, age 4 of Prescott Valley, AZ; his mother, Gayemarie Ekker of Cedar City, UT; brother, Dr. Lee Thurston (Raeanne), their children Lindsey and Alex of Prescott, AZ; sister Laurel (Curtis) Peterson, their children McKinzie and Karson of St. George, UT. Joe is also survived by his grandfather, Warren (Sandy) Thurston of Moab, UT; aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family and numerous friends scattered worldwide. Joe was preceded in death by his father, Arthur L. Thurston, grandparents Francis Every Thurston, and Arthur and Hazel Biddlecome Ekker. He was also preceded in death by his uncles Roger Thurston and AC Ekker.

A remembrance celebration will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, at the Cedar City Main Street Park, followed by a benefit for Joe's family. A Joe Thurston memorial account has been established at Wells Fargo Bank, contributions can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

Joe will be missed and will FOREVER be our Hero.

Published in The Spectrum & Daily News on July 19, 2013
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