Dr. Richard Lawrence Thornton

April 1, 1935 –  November 1, 2015 

Dr. Richard L. Thornton, 80

Dr. Richard Lawrence Thornton, 80, lifelong educator, cherished grandfather, father, husband and brother, died peacefully on Sunday, November 1, 2015, surrounded by his wife Elizabeth, his family and the loving staff at the Belknap County Nursing Home in Laconia, NH.

Richard’s lifelong passion was to educate by sharing his successes and failures with future generations. He was a passionate and genuine leader and was admired by those who knew him, especially his grandchildren. He was notorious for pushing people out of their comfort zone to grow and experience new things. During summers, on his boat on Lake Winnipesaukee, Richard shared many life lessons with his family and the many “kids” at the lake he taught to waterski, and much more. During the non-summer months, he would be found skiing the trails of New Hampshire ski areas, hiking one of the 4,000 footers, or involved in some “ing” activity. Richard’s mission was to get people out into the world “ing”ing. He influenced the lives and skills of those who were lucky enough to know him.

The proudest moments in Richard’s life came when he was watching his grandchildren participate in life. Richard was a permanent fixture at his grandchildren’s soccer games, ski races, cross country meets, swim meets, concerts, graduations, recitals, baseball games…the list could go on and on. There was no greater accomplishment for Richard than the successes of his grandchildren. Sharing in their lives was everything to him.

Richard was born in Manchester, NH on April 1, 1935 to John D. and Josephine (Cronin) Thornton. He grew up in Manchester with his parents and three siblings. After graduating from Bishop Bradley High School, Richard attended and graduated from Springfield College with a B.S. and M.S. degree in Education. While at Springfield College, he excelled in swimming, track and gymnastics. Following his passion, he continued his education at Boston University, where he earned a Ph.D. in Education. Richard’s professional life, was spent as a professor at various colleges and universities throughout New England. During his 50 year tenure as professor, Richard influenced thousands of students.

Richard’s family played an important role in his life. He leaves behind his cherished wife, Elizabeth Ann McKinley of Lincoln, NH, his brother Bro. Andrew Thornton OSB, St. Anselm College, his sister Catherine French Murray of Manchester NH; his 5 children: Jeffrey Thornton and wife Kathy of Manchester CT, Scott Thornton and wife Marybeth of Trumbull CT, Tracy Thornton and her husband Jack Falloni of West Greenwich RI, Amy Thornton of Fairfield CT, and Jennifer Charleston and husband Kevin of Belmont NH; his former wife Patricia Boettcher O’Dwyer of Milford CT; and finally his most cherished grandchildren: Jeremy Thornton of Cumberland RI, Kyle Thornton of Groton MA, Emma and Sara Thornton of Trumbull CT, and Ben and Emily Charleston of Belmont NH; his first great-grandchild, Declan Thornton of Groton MA; and many nieces and nephews and their children. He was pre-deceased by his parents, and his brother John D. Thornton, Jr. of Columbus OH.

We will celebrate the life of Richard at a mass of Christian Burial at St. Joseph’s Church in Lincoln, NH, on Thursday, November 5, 2015, at ten o’clock in the morning, followed by a burial service at Riverside Cemetery in Lincoln. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Richard to “Residents Activities Fund,” Belknap County Nursing Home, 30 County Drive, Laconia, NH 03246.

Arrangements are under the care of Fournier-Hale Funeral Home, 144 Main Street, No. Woodstock, NH

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