Thornton was born June 2, 1924 to Dr. Frank and Hattie Mae Douglass in Chicago. He spent his early years on the south side of Chicago and then attending Calumet High School. After graduating, he took courses at Morgan Park Jr. College and then enrolled at The University of Illinois, before enlisting in the army in 1943. He was a medic in France after landing at Normandy.
He married Mariann Clark in 1945 while on leave. Thornton and Mariann celebrated their 74th anniversary on December 21.
After his discharge from the service, Thornton and Mariann moved to Champaign to attend the University of Illinois. After graduating in 1949 with a degree in bacteriology, Thornton got a job in Chicago at Armour Pharmaceutical Co. where he first worked to develop a polio vaccine.
Their daughter, Linda, was born in 1949. They bought 80 acres in Indiana and began building their own home on the property and planting hundreds of trees. Daughter, Donna, was born in 1952. Shortly afterwards, Armour built a plant in Kankakee, forcing them to sell the property and move to Park Forest, IL. They raised their daughters there.
After 30 years with Armour, Thornton retired and took a job in Puerto Rico with Johnson & Johnson. They spent 10 wonderful years there before retiring to their farm in Carbondale, IL.
Thornton is survived by his wife Mariann, daughter, Donna Brandt (David), Granddaughters Katie Fischer (Jeremy) and Kari Firak(John) and great-grandchildren, Owen, Etta, Max and Lola. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Linda Vogenthaler.
Thornton loved Dixieland music, often playing his trumpet in various bands.
His parents built a cottage on the shores of Lake Huron in Southampton, Ontario, Canada. Many happy vacations have been spent there over the years. Thornton will be buried in the Southampton Cemetery with a family celebration at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Hospice of Southern Illinois would be appreciated