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Community mourns Thornton

Madera Tribune File Photo

Community volunteer and former broadcaster David “Ross,” Thornton, 80, died Oct. 18, following a long illness.


Community volunteer and former broadcaster David “Ross,” Thornton, 80, died Oct. 18, 2021, following a long illness.

Born in Tulsa, OK. He attended broadcasting school in Chicago. In 1964 he came to Madera and worked as a disc jockey at K-Hot AM and KUUL FM radio. He worked for the station until it changed ownership. He retired in 2013 after 26 years working as an agent for Foster and Parker Insurance.

“Ross was very proud to be part of the insurance profession because by being a member he felt he was able to help protect people from financial ruin,” said agency owner Steve Barsotti. “Ross was a fierce advocate when insurance companies gave his clients trouble. He went to great lengths to see that his clients were treated well.”

“He was trusted by his clients and insurance companies because he was a man of integrity,” Barsotti said. “He was beloved by our staff because he was a great teammate, had a wonderful sense of humor and was an outstanding ambassador for our company. Ross was excessively generous with the giving of his time and treasure to our community.”

Active in the community he served on many civic projects including both city and county planning commissions.

His many community services included serving on the board of directors for the Camarena Health Center, Madera Community Hospital Foundation, Madera Rescue Mission, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Vice President Valley West Christian Center, President of Sherman Thomas Charter School, Madera Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year, Elk’s Citizen of the Year and Sunrise Rotary Club with a 30 year perfect attendance record, just to name a few.

“Ross Thornton was a man of great dignity. He represented a high standard in business ethics and personal integrity,” said Debi Bray executive director of the Madera Chamber of Commerce.

Among other awards Thornton received the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

“There was never a question that he cared for those around him. Ross always had an insight for what was happening in one’s life,” said Bray. “If you were celebrating a joyous occasion or experiencing a difficult time, he knew, and took the time to say a few words either in person, by phone, or by mailing you a note. Without question, if you knew him, you knew he cared.”

Bray said she always felt that Thornton was a keen observer, he listened with intent, and when he spoke, it was with wisdom, knowledge, and respect. He was not a man to speak flippantly, unless his well appreciated humor surfaced, something everyone enjoyed! Whether a one-line quip or a story with a humorous ending, (and he had many), people listened. His comments, conversation, and wit, were what made him so endearing and revered by many.

“Our community is a better place because of this humble and kind man. His desire to help others was always present in his professional career and his community service,” Bray said. “He served as an Ambassador for the Madera Chamber of Commerce. As a man of strong faith, he happily served on the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Committee. In 2009, Ross was honored by the Chamber with a Lifetime Achievement Award for the abundance of time dedicated to numerous organizations that had a mission to improve the lives of all.”

Above all, his family and faith came first. The Madera Chamber of Commerce would like to offer our most sincere gratitude to Barbara, and his family, for sharing this great man with our community. Our thoughts and prayers of comfort are with them as we remember this great man, said Bray.

Thornton was predeceased by his parents, David T. and Alberta Cottle Thornton and his daughter, Julie McCully. He is survived by his wife of 33 years Barbara Sordi Thornton, children Steve, Jeff and Brian Thornton, Curt Gleason, 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m., Nov. 22 at Valley West Christian Center, 101 West Adell Street, Madera.

Memorial contributions may be made to the donor’s favorite charity.


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