Edna S. Thornton, 99

Edna Thornton

Edna Thornton

MEDFORD, WISCONSIN — Edna S. Thornton passed away at the age of 99 on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Aspirus Nursing and Rehab Center in Medford, Wisconsin, where she had resided for the past six years.

Edna was born in Bronx, N.Y. in 1916, to Adolph and Josephine Stein-brecher. She was educated in Catholic schools there, eventually graduating from Hunter College in 1935. Following the death of her father in 1932, she lived with, and later cared for her mother until she passed in 1987.

Edna married the love of her life, Paul R. Thornton Jr., in 1938 in New York City, where they lived until the war broke out. During the war, Paul was commissioned a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, and the family moved to Pasadena, Calif. During these years, Edna was employed at Cal Tech doing mathematical research on the Manhattan Project.

When the war ended, the family returned to the suburban New York City area, bought a house in Yonkers, and started a family. Paul III was born in 1946, followed by Peter in 1949. Edna was a homemaker during the 1950s, performing community and charity work, most notably serving as the President of the Westchester County Easter Seals Society. She returned to the workforce in 1960 when she was employed as the supervisor in the Nestlé home office's test kitchen in White Plains, N.Y. Several years later she was employed as an administrative assistant to physicists doing research at Columbia University's Nevis Laboratories in Irvington, N.Y. While employed there, she completed studies at Columbia, later earning a Master’s Degree in Administration. She was eventually appointed as an officer of Columbia, serving as Administrative Assistant to the President of the University. She held this position until her retirement in 1982.

She then moved to the family's summer home on beautiful Highland Lake in Bridgton, with her mother — her husband having passed away unexpectedly in 1969. Her years in Maine were again spent doing work for the community. She served on the Bridgton Hospital and Bridgton Library Boards. She was instrumental in helping to start up and operate the Bridgton Hospital Guild's Thrift Shop. While on the Library Board she was instrumental in fundraising events that helped modernize the building and make it more accessible. She was a regular, longtime, and ardent member of a local reading club, the Book Bags. She was also a supporter of various area arts associations. She regularly hosted visiting musicians in her home who came to play with the Sebago-Long Lake Chamber Music Festival during the summer months. She also traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Ill health forced Edna to move finally to Wisconsin in 2003 to be close to her son, Paul, who arranged cancer care for her at the Marshfield Clinic. In 2008, she was declared cured of her second and third bouts with cancer. Through all of her cancer fights (her first bout with breast cancer occurred in 1966), she remained brave and determined. She always proclaimed her trust in “the power of prayer,” and her strong Catholic faith always carried her through. That strength proved to be a model for many people over the years.

Edna is survived by son Paul (Elise), Rib Lake, Wisconsin; son Peter (Linda), Bronxville, N.Y.; grandson Criterion, Brooklyn, N.Y.; granddaughter Genevieve (Grey) Baker, New York City, and their twins, great-grandchildren Fleur and Brittin; and granddaughter Ramona (Jeffrey) Thornton and their son, great-grandson Oliver of Wales, Wisconsin.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 424 W. Cedar St., Medford, WI 54451. Visitation will be from 10 a.m., until the time of services at 11 a.m., at the church, that same day. Interment of her cremated remains will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery, Yonkers, N.Y., at a later date. Hemer Funeral Service, Medford, Wisconsin served the family.

For online condolences, please visit hemerfuneralservice.comIn lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in her name to either St. Joseph Church or Bridgton Public Library, both of Bridgton, Maine.


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