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Jerry Dwindle Thornton, a longtime resident of Downey, CA, and of The Woodlands, Texas for the past eight years went to our Lord on March 5, 2013. Born in Camp Hill, Alabama to Paul Andrew Thornton and Clara Beatrice Short on November 1, 1928, he was the oldest of four children. He moved in his early youth to California mainly due to his father's health needs. Jerry worked various jobs starting at the age of twelve until joining the Army at the less than legal age of seventeen. Corporal Jerry Thornton served as a Command Center Attache' in occupied Austria. Upon receiving his honorable discharge, Jerry returned to school to earn a BA in Education with honors from the then new Long Beach State University. He forged further ahead to finish his MS in Education Administration at USC (Jerry loved his Trojan alumnus status). His entire career was devoted to the Downey, California educational system where he spent his first three years teaching elementary grades and junior high level. In 1956, Jerry transitioned to the esteemed role of principal at several of Downey's elementary schools, and in 1969 accepted the post of Coordinator for Downey Unified Special Education from which he retired in 1988. Jerry held several additional committee and advisory positions over the years in support of Los Angeles County and the state university systems. Jerry was preceded in death by his wife Mary Ann Broersma of 52 years, and a brother, Paul Thomas Thornton. He is survived by brother Jack (May) Breese and sister Nancy Wright. All five of Jerry's children were able to be with him in his final earthly hours. They are Jeanne Sue (Barry) Hoy of Merritt Island, Florida, Marianne Gouge of Palm Springs, Cheryl Lynn (Bruce) McCaughan of Santa Fe Springs, James Bryan (Kathryn) Thornton of Oakland, and Carol Thornton (Ken) Weller of The Woodlands, Texas. Jerry always felt blessed under God's kindness and was never shy when talking about his ten grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Jerry loved the ocean, camping in the CA redwoods, body surfing, and snorkeling. For many years he and Mary could be seen on the beaches of Southern CA or traveling via camper across the continental US. Often his children and some grandchildren would join them for hours of fun in the sun at Corona Del Mar where Jerry was known by the local "kahunas" by the red body board he used. Jerry also loved good music with a special ear for early country, the penning of quips such as "think in pencil and coast uphill", poems and short essays, and spinning laughable tales at family events. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jerry's memory to: The Arc of Los Angeles and Orange County, 12049 Woodruff Avenue, Downey, CA 90241 www.thearclaoc.org. A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, March 16, 2013, 4:00PM at his home church, First Presbyterian Church of Downey located at 10544 Downey Avenue, Downey, CA.
Published: March 14, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 48