Don ThorntonDon Thornton, 91, Dickinson, died Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at his home.
Don Thornton, 91, Dickinson, died Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at his home.
Don’s funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 at the United Methodist Church, Dickinson, with Rev. Dan Freed officiating. Interment will follow at the Dickinson Cemetery with military honors provided by the Dickinson Honors Team. Visitation will be on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Ladbury Funeral Service, and will continue one hour prior to services at the church on Thursday.
James Donald Milliren “Don” Thornton was born June 15, 1921 in Fessenden, where he received his public school education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Valley City State College and did his graduate work at the University of North Dakota.
Following service as an officer in the United States Navy in the North African and Italian Theatres of World War II, Don spent a 39-year career as an instrumental music educator in Langdon, New Rockford and Dickinson.
On Aug. 19, 1948, Don was united in marriage to Doris Olson, a marriage which produced six children; Jerry, Diane, James, Dann, Bruce and Scott; all of whom have followed in their father’s footsteps in devoting their lives to music. In 1980, the Thornton family was selected to be named the first “North Dakota Musical Family of the Year,” by the North Dakota Federation of Music Clubs.
Don became a member of the Kiwanis service club in 1954, since 1994, has been the manager of the Kiwanis band instrument program which places musical instruments in the hands of needy students. Don was named Kiwanian of the Year for 1992-1993.
He served as choir director in the United Methodist Church for 15 years in New Rockford and for 22 years in Dickinson. He was the bugler for the Dickinson Veteran’s Drill Team for 40 years, and was a charter member of the Dickinson Concert Association, and spent six years as musical director of the Pioneer Singers.
As a 20-year member of the Badlands Barbershop Chorus, Don served terms as both secretary and chapter president, and in 1987, received the “Attaboy” award for outstanding service from the International Barbershop Chorus Society. Don has sung bass for the Silver Sage Barbershop Quartet (1991 Novice Quartet Champions) since its inception in 1990. In 1968 he was presented with the “First Chair of America” plaque for outstanding achievement in the field of school music for setting the highest national standards in band performance. Don was the conductor of the 1975 North Dakota “Governor’s Band” and was elected in 1987 to the North Dakota Music Educators Association “Hall of Fame.” He was named honorary director of the North Dakota Centennial Band in 1989 by the International Ambassadors of Music, and in 1993, was inducted into the Valley City State University “Viking Athletic Hall of Fame” for his outstanding achievements in track and football, where he was the conference scoring leader and chosen all-conference halfback in 1941.
Don is survived by his six children, Jerry Thornton, Dickinson, Diane Thornton, Minneapolis, James Thornton, Dickinson, Dann (Caren) Thornton, Houston, Bruce (Sandra) Thornton, St. Cloud, Minn. and Scott (Amy) Thornton, New York, N.Y.; and four grandchildren, Stephanie, Jamie, Nicholas and Emily.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris on Feb. 16, 1992; his parents; six siblings, William “Bud," Jack, Tom, Judy Werner, Ted and Bob; and an infant daughter, Joni-Beth.
Arrangements are with Ladbury Funeral Service, Dickinson.
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