Maybelle Juanita (Masten) Thornhill

  • "I share your sadness. She was was a lovely and beautiful..."
    - Nancy Schubert
  • "What a beautiful tribute to the extraordinary life of such..."
    - Jaunie Masten-Shepherd
Service Information
Memorial service
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019
12:00 PM
Millbrook Presbyterian Church
3620 N Millbrook Avenue
Fresno, CA
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Our mother passed away peacefully on Sept 27 at the age of 102. A long-time resident of Fresno, she was born in Woodland, California to John and Hazel Masten. Graduating from Fresno High in 1935, mother would receive a Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Fresno State University in 1939. With World War 2 breaking out, she left home to get a Master's Degree in Nursing from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, graduating in 1943. She then joined the Army Nursing Corps as a Lieutenant, and entered the European Theatre of war following the invasion of Normandy. While stationed in Belgium her tent hospital would be shelled during what would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. After the war she returned to California, working at the VA Hospital in San Francisco and developing a love and appreciation of the city which would stay with her for the rest of her life. But when she learned the government was building a VA hospital back in Fresno, she returned home in 1950 to see to its successful opening. It was there as a Charge Nurse she would meet, care for and eventually marry another veteran from the war, Trent Thornhill. They would have 2 sons, William and Edwin. In 1961 her nursing career saw another change - one that would align her time off with that of her young family, and she would work for the next 20 years as a school nurse for the Fresno Unified School District, at Wilson and Roeding Elementary schools, and Cooper Junior High. She retired in 1981 but never slowed down; Mom was not one to "eat the bread of idleness" (Proverbs 31:27). It was in her nature to serve, and she was selfless with her time and energy. She volunteered often, to include over 3,300 hours at her former place of employment, the Veterans Hospital. She was exceptionally active, not only at her church but in multiple groups, clubs and organizations, to include Women's Overseas Service League, Church Women United, and the American Association of University Women. She loved music, reading, and her dogs, and she always had room for a bowl of ice cream! Her passion for learning never faded, and traveling throughout California and the world was a joy. You might have seen her in several of Fresno's Veterans Day Parades, riding in a convertible and still looking sharp in her uniform. Whether white water rafting in West Virginia or riding a camel at the Great Pyramids near Cairo, she seemingly defied time and aged very gracefully. Mother will be remembered by all who knew her as a devoted family member, loyal friend, ardent supporter of Fresno society, and a woman of faith who always showed strength in the face of adversity and, like love itself, "endures through every circumstance" (1 Cor. 13:7). She was a genuinely kind and gentle spirit, who led by example and always had a smile. She will be greatly missed. She is survived by her much beloved brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Malcolm and LaVerne Masten, daughter in-law Jill; grandchildren Paul and Erin Thornhill, 5 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 2 at noon at Millbrook Presbyterian Church, 3620 N Millbrook Avenue, Fresno, CA. In lieu of flowers we ask that donations be made to the American Red Cross.
Published in the Fresno Bee on Oct. 27, 2019
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