Born Sept. 7, 1926, to Lewis Thornton and Mary Jane Kilgore Thornton, John Thornton was one of five children. At the young age of 14 years, he left home for Arizona where he became a skilled carpenter and crafty musician. During his 87 years of life, he was founder and operator of Sumco, The Thornton Coal Company, Thornton Construction and Quality Auto Sales. Prior to death, he operated a larger farm in Jefferson County (Thornton Lake), managed properties all over Alabama and the United States. John’s musical talents allowed him to play with some of the greatest country music legends of his generation, including George Jones, Verne Gosden, Marty Robbins and Mickey Gilley to name a few. He hosted a radio show during his early years. He traveled throughout the country designing floor plans and trading and selling motor coaches. John will be remembered for his entrepreneurship, remarkable excavation skills with heavy equipment, his commitment to his community, but most of all for his unselfish giving of his time and talents to friends, neighbors and family.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Irmo Jean Thornton; his parents, his grandparents and his four siblings, Clara Bagley, Dorothy “Dot” Washington, Geneva “Gen” Elliott and Edgar Lee “Slim” Thornton.
John is survived by his two daughters, Joan Thornton of Sumiton and Sallie Thornton Muncher and son-in-law, Richard Muncher, of Sumiton; his grandchildren, Joeletta Martin Barrentine and her husband, Jeremy Barrentine, Johnna Martin Johnson and her husband, Alan Johnson, Julie Martin Bray and her husband, Matthew Bray, Salena Muncher Hacker and her husband, Matt Hacker, and Thornton Muncher; his great-grandchildren, Jolie Martin Bray, Julian Bray, Luke Bray, Lillie Bray, Will Johnson and Jase Barrentine; and honorary granddaughter, Camila de Mata Morrow; his companion, Patricia Bowers; and a host of nieces, nephews and many friends.
A celebration of life will be Thursday, March 6, 2014, at 2 p.m. in the New Horizon Memorial Chapel. Rev. Joel Carden of Quinton Baptist Church and Rev. Lane Sargent will officiate. Burial will follow at Shanghi Cemetery. Visitation is tonight from 6 until 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.newhorizonmemorial.com.
New Horizon Memorial Funeral Home,