How do we measure a life well lived? Is it by the impact we have on the world and on others?
If this type of life can be assessed by the genuine kindness, charity, love, and humor one puts out into the world, then Thomas B. Thornton, of Saugerties, NY, will be remembered as living one of the best. Thomas passed away peacefully at home on March 30th, 2022, surrounded by his loving family.
Many knew Tom in his later years as the affable man behind the candy stand at the Orpheum Theatre (which was a family business from 1919-2021), but those closest to him knew him as “Tommy,” “T.T.,” “Mr. T,” and “Dad.”
Tom was born in 1940, in Kingston, New York, to the late George and Clara Thornton. He spent his high school years hitchhiking to St. Patrick’s Academy in Catskill, and back and forth to Palenville to caddy. For his senior year, he transferred to Saugerties High School, graduating in 1959. Tom graduated from RPI in 1961 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and then second in his class from Fordham Law School in 1964. Tom went on to serve his country as a captain in the United States Army, stationed in Korea, from 1965 to 1967.
Tom was married to his loving wife of 45 years, Jade, in 1977. This sparked his favorite of many trademarked and quotable phrases: “I found heaven in ‘77!” The apple, or rather, “Peach” of their eye, Rebecca, was born in 1982.
Upon returning from Korea, Tom went on to purchase his first movie theater. At one point, he and Jade owned nine movie theaters and three retail stores throughout the area. He retired this past July with the sale of the Orpheum Theatre in Saugerties.
Tom loved to travel, learn about new cultures, and meet new people, visiting multiple countries and cities in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean over the years. He was naturally funny, known for his interesting late-night stories, his “excellent guidance,” and his well-crafted and thoughtful birthday and anniversary poems for those he loved most.
One of his greatest passions was feeding the poor and helping people in impoverished and developing nations. He most-often partnered with his favorite charitable organization, Food for the Poor, and funded projects to help communities build goat and chicken farms, sanitation plants, residences, and provide school uniforms in places like El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua and Jamaica.
Tom was a beacon of light. He is survived by his wife, Jade, daughter, Rebecca, son-in-law, Michael Francello, sister, Linda (Thomas) Gentalen, brother-in-law, Jerome Brodish, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his mother, Clara, father, George, and sister, Carol Anne (Jerome) Brodish.
“He lived his life and did his best,
and now that he is laid to rest,
He leaves this thought for everyone:
I may be finished, but I never got done.”
— Thomas B. Thornton
We are grateful for the wonderful life Tom lived and thankful for the people who have shared their kind thoughts and prayers during his illness.
His Funeral Procession will form 8:45 AM Saturday at the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home, Inc. Cor. of John & Lafayette Sts., Saugerties thence to St. Mary of the Snow RC Church where at 9:30 AM a Mass of Christian Burial will be offered. Interment with military honors will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Friends will be received Friday 2-4 and 7-9PM. Family suggests donations in his memory be made to Diaz Ambulance of Saugerties.