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Dr. Jack Walker Thornton

May 6, 2016

Hertford – Dr. Jack Walker Thornton, 83, passed away at his home in Hertford, North Carolina on Friday, May 6, 2016. He was born in Tunica, Mississippi on April 10, 1933 to John Walker Thornton and Eula Daughdrill Thornton.

Jack grew up in the Mississippi Delta hunting and fishing almost every day, a passion he carried throughout his life.  He graduated from Tunica High School, where he played football, and then spent a year at college, leaving to pursue his dream of flying.  Jack joined the Marine Corps in 1953 as a fighter pilot and was subsequently stationed in Edenton, North Carolina, where he met the love of his life, Janice Sumner Thornton. After a whirlwind courtship, they married in Hertford, North Carolina in 1955. Jack rose to the rank of Captain in the military before retiring in 1964.

Dr. Thornton went on to get his medical degree from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, also the hometown of his favorite writer, William Faulkner. It was in Oxford that his first daughter, Tameron Thornton Kugler, was born. He was such a fan of Ole Miss football that he left his wife’s bedside during his daughter’s birth to attend a game across the street from the hospital with Archie Manning as starting quarterback.

Jack did his internship in the Army, spending a year at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.  His second daughter, Brannan Luann Thornton, was born there. While at Fort Bliss, he was offered the opportunity to join NASA as an astronaut, an honor he declined out of consideration for his young family. He then moved his family to Charleston, South Carolina where he did his residency, specializing in Ear, Nose & Throat, at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital.  Then it was on to Hickory, North Carolina where he set up practice with fellow ENT, Dr. Robert O’Connor, and retired, the first time, at the age of 65.

Dr. Thornton moved with his wife, Janice, back to Hertford, North Carolina, where he went back into practice at the age of 68 in the Elizabeth City office of Dr. Margaret Donohoe.  He recently retired, for a second time, in September of 2015.

Dr. Thornton is survived by his wife, Janice; daughters Brannan Thornton and Tameron Kugler; son-in-law, Anthony Kugler; grandchildren Thornton Jackson and his wife, Alessia, and Michael Kugler and his wife, Katie; his sister, Betty Wilbanks and husband, Louis; and mother-in-law, Helen Chappell Sumner. He was preceded in death by his brother, Jerry Thornton, his best friend.

He will be remembered by his many in-laws, nieces, nephews and friends as a kind and gentle man, quietly going about with a helping hand when needed. He had a quick and understated sense humor that will be fondly recalled by all who knew him.

A private family celebration of Dr. Thornton’s life will be held at a later date.

The family of Dr. Jack Thornton gratefully suggests that those wishing to honor his memory and legacy make memorial donations in his honor the Junior ROTC Program at Currituck County High School care of Col. Grimes. THANK YOU.

Condolences to the family may be expressed via the on-line register at  Gallop Funeral Services, Inc. was entrusted with arrangements.