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William "Bill" Thornton


1922 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
William "Bill" Thornton Obituary
WILLIAM "BILL" THORNTON Age 94, of San Clemente, CA, passed away peacefully on July 14th, 2016. He was the second son of three to Luther and Clara Thornton of Decatur, IL. After losing his mother at the age of 17 he joined the CCC's in 1939 and then the Navy in 1942. He served 2 tours, the first, serving as gunner on liberty ships in the Atlantic theater during WW II, and the second, he served as a seaman first class sailing all over the globe. After his honorable discharge from the Navy, he followed his best friend to Graceland College in Iowa. At Graceland he played football and met his future wife and the mother of his three sons, Mary Jane Munn, of San Francisco, and were married in 1951. He graduated from Graceland in 1950 and SFSU in 1952. Bill and Mary Jane then moved to Riverside, CA in 1953 to begin work at the new California School for the Deaf at Riverside (CSDR). He worked at CSDR for 30 years. The first 15 years, he worked as a PE instructor and coach of the basketball, football and track teams, he excelled as a track coach, serving a stint as a women's coach at the 1965 Deaf Olympics. During his second 15 years, he worked as a first grade teacher, as a result of Bill's success he earned a spot on the CSDR Hall of Fame. During this time, he and Mary Jane raised three boys and taught them that hard work and honesty were the keys to success. He taught them all at an early age to read, write and do arithmetic, as well as, all the sports that were available, settling on swimming and water polo. After a divorce in 1979, Bill married Mary Lisbeth Johnson in 1983 and they shared 24 years of marital bliss. Bill and Mary loved retirement and traveled many places together within the U.S. and Europe. Bill dedicated his life to his family, whether it was monetary or just a lending hand, he was always there to offer aid or comfort. He was quick with a joke and ready to tell you a story of his many tales, whether it was fishing as a boy or his time in the Navy. He would sit on the sidelines of many sports contests without complaint and always with great pride and integrity Bill saw great change in the almost 100 years of his existence, from growing up in a house with no running water to using wireless cell phone technology. In his later years he tirelessly researched his genealogy and found great joy in the discovery of his ancestors and their heritage. Bill is survived by his 3 sons and their children. He is also survived by Mary Lisbeth's 3 children, 3 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Memorial Service will be held on Thursday, July 21, 11am at the Riverside National Cemetery.
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Published in Press-Enterprise on July 20, 2016
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