Fredrick Thornberry

Obituary
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  • "Michelle, even though we never had the honor of meeting Mr...."
    - Susan Giacona
  • "Sending my deepest sympathy. It was a pleasure to work with..."
    - Lyn Ryan
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    - Mary Easley
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    - David Parker
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    - Jessica Hood
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A celebration of Dr. Fred Thornberry's life will be held at A&M United Methodist Church, 417 University Drive, College Station, Texas on Sunday, April 8 at 1:30 pm with Reverend Preston Greenwaldt officiating. Visitation will follow the service at the Great Hall at the church. Private interment will be at the Texas A&M Aggie Field of Honor Cemetery. Dr. Thornberry was born on March 17, 1937 in Conroe, Texas and passed away on March 18, 2018 at the age of 81 years. Fred grew up in the Conroe oilfield on an open range cattle ranch. He was on the Cut and Shoot Boxing Team with heavyweight contender, Roy Harris, and other Harris family members. In his last fight at the age of 16, he was introduced by the boxing promoter as the fastest rising amateur on the Texas Gulf Coast. He entered the ring, knocked his opponent out, and in the process broke his hand which ended his career with a 15 - 1 record. He was active in the 4-H Club, caught a calf in the 1953 Houston Livestock Show calf scramble, and was the Montgomery County 4-H Gold Star Boy in 1954. As a youth, he became a Christian and was baptized as a Baptist, but followed the Methodist faith in more recent years. Fred was a man of God who lived his faith quietly and personal. Fred graduated from Conroe High School in 1955 and was the recipient of the Montgomery County Texas A&M Club Scholarship. He worked his way through Texas A&M as a student worker in the dining room in the Memorial Student Center and as an oilrig derrick hand during the summers. He received a B.S. in Agriculture Education in 1959, a M.S. in Poultry Science in 1963 and a Ph.D. in Poultry Physiology in 1968, all from Texas A&M. Fred served 5 years of active and active reserve duty in the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard. He was appointed by Governor Bill Clements in 1980 to the Texas State Employment and Training Council and was commissioned a True Texian in 1982 by Clements in recognition of his Texas heritage and dedicated efforts to preserve the ideals which make Texas great. Fred was drafted by the Texas Republic Executive Committee to run as the Republican candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the 1982 general election. Even though all Republicans lost that year, it set the stage for future Republican candidates to run and win elected state offices. He had several opportunities to run for U.S. Congress and finally ran in 1996. During his career of 48 years with the Texas A&M University System, he began as an Assistant County Agent in Liberty County. After completing his graduate work, he became the first Area Specialist in the Extension Service in poultry in the state and worked in East Texas at the Overton Headquarters. His performance in working with the fast, developing poultry industry resulted in his appointment as the State Program Leader, heading up the Texas A&M Extension Poultry Program in College Station at the age of 33. He was highly respected among the poultry industry in Texas as well as on the national and international levels and worked specifically with Russia, a number of African countries, Mexico, and several South American countries. As a full Professor in the Department of Poultry Science, he worked extensively with FFA and 4-H clubs to develop the strongest youth program in the nation. In addition, he served as a poultry judge in over 600 shows for numerous years at the Houston Livestock Show, the San Antonio Livestock Show, the Dallas State Fair, and in almost every county show in Texas. In later years, many of these students from the shows came to Texas A&M for their degrees in Poultry Science or other agriculture related fields. Most of all, he had a strong passion for motivating the underprivileged youth he encountered to set goals and obtain an education in order to have a better life and be a contributing member in society. Dr. Thornberry was a prolific writer with over 1,000 publications, pamphlets, and journal articles. He was featured on the cover of Poultry Digest in June 1976 for his research in walk-through culling of birds. In 1980, he was honored with the invitation to write a chapter in the Yearbook of Agriculture entitled, Some Better Ways to Raise Poultry. During his last year at Texas A&M, he authored a book, Flight Quail Production. Dr. Thornberry initiated the yearly Texas Broiler Symposium and chaired the Texas Commercial Egg Clinic for over 25 years. He was a voting member of the Texas Poultry Improvement Board and served as an advisory board member for over 30 years. He was honored and proud of being selected in 1999 as the recipient of the coveted Golden Feather Award presented by the Texas Poultry Federation for his significant contributions to the Texas and U.S. poultry industry. He received the Superior Service Unit Award from the Extension Service in 1976. He was also instrumental in establishing the Texas Game Bird Association and conference which further strengthened the national organization. His research, in conjunction with Dr. W.F. Krueger, led to the development of a gourmet quail for industry. Upon his retirement in 2004, the Board of Regents of Texas A&M University recognized him with the distinction of Professor Emeritus, Poultry Science, Texas A&M University. He was further honored by the Poultry Department with the establishment of the Drs. Fred and Nancy Thornberry Endowed Scholarship, Poultry Science, Texas A&M, which allows students to receive scholarships for advanced degrees in the field of agriculture. On March 27, 1964, he married Nancy Stansel of Lufkin. The majority of their married life, they lived in College Station, but after retirement, they spent more time at their waterfront home on upper Lake Livingston and the Trinity River. It was there that Fred engaged in fishing outings, enjoyed bird watching, viewed sunrises and sunsets, observed the beauty of God's nature, and entertained many friends and family with dinners, parties, and special occasions. He was an avid gardener and many hours were spent in his gardens as he relished seeing the fruits of his labor and sharing with friends and neighbors. Both he and his wife traveled the world in more than 40 countries and took short trips to almost every state in the country. He was most proud to be an American citizen and conveyed to his grandchildren and other youth the attributes and value of life in the United States. He often stated that he tried to live his life following the Ten Commandments and abiding by the laws of the land. The Drs. Fred and Nancy Thornberry Endowed Fellowship in the College of Education, Texas A&M University, was established in 2007 since both spent a lifetime of service in education. This scholarship is awarded annually to graduate students aspiring to be public school administrators or teachers in higher education. In July 2015, Fred was honored to receive The Texas FFA Lone Star Honorary Degree at the state convention in Corpus Christi. Additionally, he was bestowed the honor of recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University. Fred is survived by his wife of almost 54 years, Dr. Nancy Thornberry of College Station, daughter Molly Whisenant and husband Thad and their children, Connor, Carson, Colton, and Cooper and daughter Michelle Bunch and husband Gordy and their children, Greg, Riley, and Jake all of The Woodlands. The oldest of seven children, he is survived by brother Jonathan Thornberry of New Waverly and Kansas, sister Jeannie Donaldson and husband Bob of Conroe, and sister Marilyn Simonton of Huntsville, Arkansas. Brothers, Dr. Owen Thornberry, Jr. of Washington, D.C. and Hiram Thornberry, sister, Julianna Corley of Conroe, and brother-in-law, Rueben Simonton of Arkansas preceded him in death as did his parents, Owen and Leona Thornberry. His in-laws, Eugene and Mae Stansel of Lufkin and brothers-in-law, Edward Vaughn of Nacogdoches and Bob Young of Lufkin, also preceded him in death. He is survived by in-laws Linda and Gandy Oliver, Elaine Young, and Harold and Kathy Stansel, all of Lufkin, Joan Vaughn of Nacogdoches, and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Dr. Fred Thornberry Memorial Scholarship C/o Texas Poultry Federation 595 Round Rock West Drive, Suite 305 Round Rock, TX 78681 The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the excellent medical professionals for their care of him during the past years, especially Dr. Padma Kumashi and Dr. Rishi Hingorani. Other specialized medical professionals, Dr. Jeffery Berliner, Dr. Samir Shirodkar, Dr. William Rhoton, Dr. George Kantis, and Dr. Craig Anderson also provided excellent care. A special thanks is extended to the staffs of TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital, Nexus Specialty Hospital, and to Pinard Home Health. Live-in nurse assistants of Caregiver Connection, especially long-time caregiver, Tina Benavides, provided loving care and assistance to Fred and the family for his daily needs. Much appreciation is extended to the many friends, family, churches, and strangers who prayed for him on a regular basis, sent cards and notes, called on the phone, and made visits to their homes and hospitals. Fred Thornberry was a true Renaissance man! He was unique, had many areas of interest, and loved life with his many friends and family. He lived a life of service to helping others and enjoyed every minute. He asked that you not mourn his passing, but instead celebrate his life and the memories you shared with him over the years! Each of you were most special to him! Thanks for everything and blessings to you all for the contributions you shared in his long life!


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Published on yourconroenews.com from Mar. 28 to Apr. 10, 2018
Arrangements under the direction of:
Cashner Funeral Home
801 Teas Road | Conroe, TX 77303 | (936) 756-2126
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