Jack Murray Thornton, Sr.

A life well-lived was remembered and celebrated at First Baptist Church on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26 with Pastor Tony Wishert officiating. Jack Murray Thornton, Sr., 88, of Wharton, left this earth on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in a Sugar Land hospital surrounded by his loving family and embraced by Jesus, his Lord and Savior.

Jack was born Jan. 30, 1931 to William Thomas Thornton and Maggie Mae Richardson Thornton in Honey Grove. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother and four sisters. Jack is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mary Ann Hooper Thornton, two sons Jack (Jay) Murray Jr. and Paul Hooper Thornton, both of Austin, and a niece Debra Edwards Ashworth of Hot Springs, Ark.

Jack grew up in Honey Grove, which he lovingly called “Surp City.” When Jack was in high school his uncle Joe Gilbreath taught him how to fly airplanes which proved beneficial as an adult. His high school years also included football. He was a major force for the Honey Grove Warriors, earning the title “The Honey Grove Flash.” In 2009, he was inducted into the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.

Following high school in 1949, Jack entered the Air Force Strategic Air Command and served four years.  

In 1953, Jack entered Paris Junior College and two years later, received his associates in arts degree. He then entered Southern State College in Magnolia, Ark., majoring in Secondary Education and Physical Education. He graduated in 1957 with a bachelor of science degree.

Jack was the running back for the football team at Southern State College. There was a cute little drum major that spied the handsome running back, caught him and kept him for 62 years.  They were married July 14, 1957.

Jack and Mary Ann both taught at Fairview High School in Camden, Ark. for two years, where Jack coached under Mr. Tom Gladden. After Tom moved to Wharton, he called Jack and asked if he was interested in moving back to Texas to teach/coach with him and of course, Jack said “yes.” In 1959 Jack began his career in the Wharton Independent School District as junior high school teacher and coach.

Two years later, Jack moved to the high school as assistant varsity football coach and head track coach. All this time Jack continued his own education, receiving his masters in 1964, and became the junior high school principal beginning 1971 until 1975. He was then moved to the high school as principal from 1975 until 1986 when he retired but continued in the field of education as a trustee for the WISD in the 1990s.  

Jack excelled in all sports, not just football, but also water skiing, fishing, golfing, hunting, flying his own plane, and snow skiing during spring breaks in Breckenridge, Colo. with the family.

Above all else, Jack loved, provided for, and cared for his family, always putting their needs above his own. His entire family is grateful to God for his years of love and selfless dedication.  He was their rock and warm embrace. Everyone who knew Jack will remember him as a wonderful husband, dad, friend and man. 

If interested in a memorial gift, the family asks for consideration of the First Baptist Church, 507 N. Fulton St., Wharton, 77488.

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