Gordon "Gordy" Thorne

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Service Information
Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA

AMHERST –  Gordy Thorne died on June 27, 2018, at home, Bramble Hill Farm, Amherst, Massachusetts.  

He was an artist, a maker of things. He experimented, discovered, played, lifted; worked wood and stone; shaped earth; drew and painted on paper; made cars move because of wind. He passionately lived, defined and defended, what it is to create. This is who he was. But he was very aware that his life had a freedom because he was born to abundance. He wanted to take as many people along with this abundance as possible.

He had a rich inner life. He tended it by building boats, creating things and always by recording and working on each dream. He sketched around them, went to the depths of them, coming back up with images, thoughts, heart, insight and action. He created something out of nothing, over and over. He was always drawn to the connection between things. He never gave up his drive to explore. Near the end of his life he went for the deepest material and stayed in it. He was musing, he was delving, and then with grace and humor – accepting - until the very last day.

He always asked questions, large and small. From what is the responsibility of the government of a country or a town to take care of its people in large and small ways, to how can the sunflower seed make a twelve-foot plant? He spent lots of time trying to figure out how to solve and reshape what he thought was not right in the world. At first he created open spaces in which people could develop and show their art work. He believed an empty space held potential. So, the third floor of Thornes became Available Potential Enterprises. A.P.E. It became a place for anyone's imagination. It was used by dancers, artists, actors, writers, and children for discovery and making things.

He and his wife came to think of their part of the 3rd floor of Thornes as an open field. It needed to be thought of as a part of nature. Preserved in the middle of a town, people could come and go, make use of it. Their interest in preserving space expanded to land. They started a foundation called "The Open Field Foundation", which bought the Jacques Farm in Amherst, Mass. It became Bramble Hill Farm, and its mission was to support young organic farmers, and to encourage children and their families in the exploration and experience of the natural world. This included a Blue Barn made with Well's Barn vaulted trusses - another open space for making and imagining. It was important to Gordy to clear a path around the perimeter of the farm, so neighbors and anyone could walk there.

After leaving Thornes, the next open space was 126 Main St. Northampton, a place right on the street, all windows.  People could come in or just walk by, and look in at what was on the walls, the floor, or at the people in there doing things. The space became -- Window. His last and largest project was his involvement in the Arts Trust at Hawley Street. When the 3rd floor space at Thornes was not able to be preserved as an "open field", he felt an obligation to the town to help find a new one.

Gordy believed that a space for imagining, whether you were an artist making a dance or a farmer plowing and planting a field, a person walking around a farm, a child looking at the snakes coming out of a moist hollow in spring, would help make a world "you would want to inhabit." 

He never wanted to be the center of attention. He would leave a present in a special place so that you would find it on your own. That was his gift to you. That he kept giving you back to yourself.

Gordy is survived by his wife Anne Love Woodhull; by his son Ben Thorne and his wife Eliza Howard and their children Augie and Sylvie; by his daughter Nell Thorne; and his grandchildren Jesse, Ian, Julia and Alana Hislop, whose mother and Gordy's eldest daughter, Jennifer Calloway Thorne, predeceased him.

A gathering will be held at 5 p.m. on August 12 at Bramble Hill Farm in Amherst.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Schumacher Society for a New Economics in Egremont, Massachusetts; Biodiversityworks in Martha's Vineyard; and Brookfield Biodynamic Farm/ 24 Hulst Rd./Amherst, Massachusetts.

Memorial register at www.douglassfuneral.com

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to legacy.com/obituaries/gazettenet.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on July 6, 2018
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