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John Matlock Thornburgh

Memorial for John Matlock Thornburgh

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee on Apr. 3, 1923
Departed on Mar. 19, 2017 and resided in Oak Ridge, TN.
Visitation: Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017
09:00 am - 10:00 am
Funeral Mass: Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017
10:00 am
Cemetery: Greenwood Cemetery
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

John Matlock Thornburgh died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, March 19, 2017 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was 93 years old. He will be remembered as a caring and dedicated father, loving husband, and man of service to others.
John is survived by his children, Kathy Thornburgh and her husband Kit Rawson of Mount Vernon, WA, Jean Klockenkemper and her husband Joe of Nashville, TN, Mike Thornburgh of Alpharetta, GA, Mary Thornburgh and her husband Tanai Tae of Oak Ridge, TN, Tom Thornburgh and his wife Brenda of Oak Ridge, TN, Fred Thornburgh and his wife Mona of Panama City, FL, James Thornburgh and his wife Oratai of Johnson City, TN, and Richard Thornburgh and his wife Katherine of Placerville, CA; his thirteen grandchildren; his two great-grandchildren, and his sister Mary McCammon of Phoenix, AZ. He is preceded in death by his wife, Betty Jean Thornburgh and his sister Peggy Kenny of Memphis, TN.
John was born on April 3, 1923 in Knoxville, TN to John and Sarah Thornburgh. Just after enrolling for his college studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, he heard the news of Pearl Harbor over the family's living room radio. He joined the U.S. Army's Enlisted Reserve Corp in 1942 and reported for induction at Ft. Oglethorpe, GA. After specialized radio training at Press Wireless in New York City, his tour in the Pacific with the Army Signal Corp took him to Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japan. After he returned from WWII, John completed his Bachelors degrees in Business and Electrical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, during which time he met Elizabeth (Betty Jean) Yeo. John and Betty Jean married on June 9, 1951 in Gatlinburg. John continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force with active and reserve tours of duty. Together, he and Betty Jean raised eight children while they explored the US from Miami, FL to Fairbanks, AK. They settled in Chattanooga, TN where John worked with the Tennessee Valley Authority, retiring in 1983 after a 27 year career as an electrical engineer.
During his career of service and into his retirement, John loved the outdoors and traveling the world with Betty Jean. He built a cabin on Norris Lake where he enjoyed swimming, fishing and boating. Early in life, his aunt Laura Thornburgh introduced him to the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains, and he, in turn, shared this devotion with his family. He was a hard-working man who was committed to his children receiving a well-rounded education.
He was a dedicated member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Chattanooga until he moved to Greenfield Senior Living community in 2008. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the staff at Greenfield and to those at Keystone Adult Day Program for their care and support in his final years.
A visitation is scheduled on Saturday, March 25 at 9:00 am at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Oak Ridge, followed by the funeral service at the Church at 10:00 am. Graveside service at Greenwood Cemetery, Knoxville will follow. Father Dustin Collins will officiate the service. The Volunteer State War Era Honor Guard will provide military honors.
Following the burial, a reception to celebrate John's life will be hosted by Tom and Brenda Thornburgh at 2:00 pm at 117 Danbury Drive, Oak Ridge. All are welcome to attend and celebrate John's life.
Memorial contributions may be made to Keystone Adult Day Program or the UT Library Special Collections Great Smoky Mountain Collection or to the charity of your choice.
An on-line guest book can be signed at www.weatherfordmortuary.com.


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