DonalD E. ThornTon
Donald E. Thornton born in Eureka, Ks on January 25, 1932, passed away peacefully on February 20, 2019 in El Dorado KS with his loving wife, Nancy at his side. A memorial service will be held at Heritage Funeral Home in El Dorado, KS on Wednesday, February 27th at 1 PM. Graveside Service will follow at Greenwood Cemetery in Eureka, KS. Don was a Christian, family man, and hard worker. His parents, Earl and Edith Thornton moved the family to Imperial Valley, California in 1936. Don grew up on a hay farm and horse ranch owned by his parents where he learned his hard work ethic and learned to rope, race, and break horses. In high school, Don was a talented football player and team roper. He was privileged to practice with several World Class Cowboys and movie stars including Ben Johnson who would frequent their ranch to practice roping in the off season. In 1952, he joined the Air Force during the Korean War. During his 4 years of service, he served as a gunner, crew chief, and mechanic on the B-47, B-50, and B-29 bombers. He was stationed in California, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, and even did a few weeks of Top Secret work in White Sands New Mexico. During his time in the Air Force, he started a band called the Paradons, and they played in clubs all over Southern California, often playing with famous artists of the era. The Air Force found out, and started paying him to play in officer's clubs in the area and they even gave them a bus to travel in. His instrument of choice was the steel pedal guitar, and he was known for playing it well. After Don left the Air Force in 1954, he went home and worked for several companies including foreman of the All American Canal, Bank of America, and area manager of southern California for the Blake, Moffitt, and Town Paper Co. In his off time he enjoyed hunting, fishing in the ocean with his family, and roping wild mustangs in the desert. They would spot the wild horses in a small plane and then land in a dry creek where they had an army jeep waiting. Then, they would chase the herd down and rope one. Don said he roped three wild horses and was able to break two of them. It was too much adrenaline for some of his friends and sometimes they would not participate after the first chase. In 1956, Don married Marie Holtzer and they had two children, John, and Andrea. The marriage ended in divorce ten years later. In 1966, Don gave his life to Jesus Christ and often pointed out that his life changed drastically. He gave up the band life, and never went back to the bars where he once played. Don moved his children back to Kansas in the late 1960's after 30 years in California. He bought a 400 acre ranch south of Eureka where he raised Simmental cattle and started selling Insurance with the MFA Insurance Company that later became Shelter Insurance. In 1974, Don met Nancy Knight and they were married a short time later. Nancy brought her children Steve, and Donna to the marriage. 7 years later, Jason was born. Don retired from Shelter Insurance after almost 40 years. He was also a Eureka City Council Member for 8 years and strived to improve the conditions for citizens of the City of Eureka. He was known for his frank honesty and respect of everyone and he will be missed by family and friends. Don is survived by his loving wife Nancy; children Jason Thornton, John Thornton, Andrea Aldridge(Marvin) and Donna Taylor(Steve); brothers Ronnie Thornton(Betty), Lonnie Thornton; sister Ardona Smith and Linda Clark(Bob); 9 grandchildren; 5 great grandchildren and many other family and friends. Preceded in death by his parents Earl and Edith; step-son Steve Knight and granddaughter Kirsten Thornton. Online guest book may be signed at www.heritageofeldorado.com.