As we remember him as an ardent lifelong fan of John Wayne movies, Neil Young and the Minnesota Vikings, along with being a loving, compassionate and proud American, it’s with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Greg Thornton, of La Center, Washington, at the age of 67. He succumbed to chronic liver disease after battling pancreatic cancer.
Greg was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and raised in the small city of Hibbing located in Saint Louis County. He graduated from Hibbing High School in 1974 and received his bachelor’s degree with a minor in finance from the University of Minnesota. After college, Greg moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he worked for Crist Machinery in the parts department and quickly became a sales representative selling equipment throughout New Mexico.
Several years later, Greg decided to move to Anchorage and subsequently Fairbanks, Alaska, where he sold heavy equipment from Ketchikan to Barrow for about five years before returning to Albuquerque when he met his future wife Julie in 1988. From Albuquerque, Greg went with Julie on her assignments in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon, where they lived in Calabasas, California, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Manassas, Virginia and La Center, Washington, respectively.
He spent most of his career employed as a heavy equipment salesman for various machinery equipment dealers, including as a heavy equipment auction territory representative for Forke and Ritchie Auctioneers. He established and owned Greg L. Thornton, a valuation and consulting service as a CSA certified machinery and equipment appraiser for several years while also serving as a La Center planning commissioner, planning commission chair, council member and mayor.
Greg loved selling and valuing “Big Iron.” He loved being outdoors whether it was barbecuing (specifically salmon and steaks), hunting, fishing, gardening or just mowing grass on his and Julie’s 5 ½ acres in La Center; he likened it to just having more “windshield time” to mull over pressing issues.
In addition, he was known for making his property look like a park. Greg also loved serving the residents of La Center as their mayor for seven years as well as a council member and a planning commissioner in previous years.
Greg made a positive impact in so many ways. His joy was his family and the many special friendships he maintained throughout the years. Greg is survived by his loving partner of 35 years and wife of 28 years, Julia Dugger “Julie” Thornton; stepdaughter, Christy Knowles Hartline; siblings, Jerry, and his wife Petra Thornton, Carrie, and her husband Mark Harris, and Mary, and her husband Michael Enich; brothers-in-law, Floyd, and his wife Chris Dugger, and Bryon, and his wife Dawn Dugger; nephews, Jeremy Thornton, Jason Thornton, Max Harris, Sterling Ulrich, Max Staples, Sean Dugger and Bryce Dugger; and nieces, Lindsay Kritz, Emily Enich, Brooke Anna Harris, Amber Dugger, Brittany Ianneo, Dawnna Salisbury, Falishia Bare, and their spouses.
Greg was preceded in death by his parents, Gerald J. Thornton Sr. and Marjorie B. “Bernie” (Ahachich) Thornton.
Greg’s rosary will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25, to be followed by his service at 11 a.m.at St. Mary’s of Guadalupe in Ridgefield, Washington. A celebration of life will be held in his honor at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 26, at the La Center City Hall.
The family would like to send a special “thank you” to all the doctors and nurses involved in Greg’s care during the past few years with a special thanks to the amazing nurses, nursing aides and the entire team with PeaceHealth Southwest Hospice and CLT at Home.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.evergreenmemorialgardens.com for the Thornton family.