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Richard Forrest (Dick) Thornton

August 17, 1926 - September 1, 2017

Richard Forrest (Dick) Thornton, 91, passed away peacefully Friday morning, September 1, 2017 at The Arbor at Avamere Court in Keizer, OR.  Born August 17, 1926 in Pontiac, Michigan to Forrest and Henrietta Thornton.  Dick spent the first 30 years of his life in Michigan, moving to Southern California in 1956, followed by a move to Oregon in 1968, where he spent the remainder of his years.

Dick is survived by his wife Helen of 50 years, daughters Diane (Rick) Thomas, and Linda Thornton (Paul Stoutenberg), son Danny Thornton, stepsons Doug and David (Mary) Fryday, grandchildren Glenda Werner, Mike Clarke, Christy (TJ) Thornton-Lyman, Daniel (Keely) Thornton, Jerod Butler, Sarah (Aaron) Johnson, Deirdre (Bryan) Brown, Josh (Mollye) Fryday, Chris (Betsy) Fryday, and many loving great- and great-great grandchildren, nephews, nieces, extended family and friends. Preceding Dick in death are his first wife of 20 years Dorothy Thornton, brother Dale Thornton and son David (Sharon) Thornton.

Dick was blessed with an ‘amazing’ artistic talent!  As a teenager he earned money painting Easter, Halloween and Christmas scenes on the windows of businesses in Pontiac.  During his stint in the U.S. Navy, Dick drew cartoons on the envelopes and within the letters he sent home to his Mother.  Many of these letters and envelopes have been preserved in photo frames.  Dick excelled in pencil, pen and ink, charcoal and oils. Many of his beautiful oil paintings were purchased when put on display in fine restaurants in Southern California.

In addition to his many drawings, cartoons and paintings Dick’s hearts desire, from an early age, was to design and build his dream house.  His dream came to fruition in the form of an incredibly beautiful two-story, A-frame, Chalet-style home, tucked in amongst towering evergreen trees, on a hill overlooking the Willamette Valley in Turner, Oregon.  This was Dick and Helen’s home until just after his retirement, at age 65, when they moved to Redmond.  Never one to let grass grow under his feet, it was in retirement that Dick designed and built another spectacular home, on a hill with an unobstructed view of the Eastern side of the Cascade Mountains from Mt. Hood south past Mt. Bachelor.

Dick excelled in his trade as a finish carpenter.  For many years he was the superintendent for the construction company that built several of the government buildings in downtown Salem, OR.

Everyone who knew Dick knew of his love of family and love for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It was his faith and carpenter skills that took him high up in the Andes Mountains in Chile as a volunteer on a construction project through his church.  Dick often talked about his Chilean experience. Of the abject poverty of the Chilean mountain people and how fortunate he was to have been born in America.  Dick said that each member of the crew carried just one suitcase with them to Chile which was filled with brand new clothing and shoes.  Returning home they only had the clothes on their backs and tattered shoes on their feet, as they left all their new clothing and shoes with the Chilean people.

Dick was also a die-hard fisherman, a man of the sea…and rivers and lakes.  He loved to share with everyone who would listen highlights of his decades of fishing adventures and how two of his four children caught his fishing ‘bug’.  One of his favorite stories was when the kids were quite young.  He would go ice fishing and come home with ‘frozen’ fish.  Much to the kids delight the frozen fish ‘returned to life’ once Dick thawed them out in a sink full of water!  And then there was his close call with Davy Jones Locker off the coast of Oregon during a nasty storm and how it was God’s angels that kept his boat afloat, reaching safe harbor, in spite of a very large hole in the hull.

As an ordinary person Dick led an extraordinary life. He taught his kids that there’s a time for work and a time for play (fishing), that hard work pays off, about being honest in all things, respecting nature, that challenges make you grow stronger, and more, so much more.

A Celebration of Dick’s Life will be held at West Salem Baptist Church, 1373 8th Street NW, Salem, OR on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at 1 p.m., Pastor Paul Null officiating, with a reception following the service.  All are welcome to attend.  Please RSVP to for the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers please make donations in Dick’s name to the church of your choice or the Wounded Warrior Project;

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Beautiful and comprehensive memorial. Sounds like he had an amazing and joy-filled life. Trish and I send our condolences, as we rejoice in his transition. 

What a beautiful tribute to a very special brother in law.  I remember well the fun times listening to Dick and Dale, his brother and my husband tell stories of their childhood escapades and other "fish' tales. The two of them are now united in heaven.  I admired Dick's artistic abilities and his superb craftsmanship with wood and landscaping.  We always enjoyed our visits to Oregon from California.  Our son, Greg, followed his uncle Dick into the building career, inspired by his Uncle.  His memory will linger long with his family and friends.