Thomas Hugh Thornton (Tim)

Date of Birth

October 26, 1931

Date of Death

June 21, 2024

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Thomas Hugh Thornton (Timmy) passed away peacefully at his home with his family by his side. Tim was born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 26th, 1931, to Tom and Margy (Barnett) Thornton.

It was the time of the Depression and they lived with his grandparents. His dad obtained an office job with the FBI in 1938 and moved to Washington, D.C. Subsequently his dad earned his law degree and became an FBI agent which meant he and his family were transferred to numerous towns: San Diego in 1942 and Los Angeles in 1943 where his sister, Mary Joella was born in 1944. The family eventually landed in Santa Barbara in late1944 and his little sister, Margaret Mary (Mollie) was born in 1949.

Tim graduated from San Roque School and Santa Barbara High (always a Don 1950) and entered what is now SB City College. His college classes were interrupted by the Korean War where he served two years in the Navy receiving the Korean War service medal. After his service he returned to City College and then UCSB.

He met a UCSB coed named Joy Mariette Lewis and they married in 1960, reaching 64 years of marriage. Together they had three children, Kevin, Steven and Karen. Tim worked at General Dynamics before obtaining his teaching credential at San Francisco State. He taught for almost 20 years at Jonata Jr. High in Buellton. He subsequently left teaching and became a District Supervisor for Compex and retired at age 65 in 1997.

He took his family on numerous summer camping trips all over the western United States and after buying a ski boat would combine camping and boating at many of California lakes. Their home became the Christmas tradition every year with what came to be known as “Thornton Camp” which meant most of the grandkids stayed for sleepovers at Grandpa’s house after Christmas Day. This involved the grandkids in making tents in the house, playing make believe games, in and out of the jacuzzi and staying up late. There was much laughing, giggling and fun for the cousins to have this special time with their grandparents, Tim and Joy, all to themselves.

Tim was a font of historical information which never failed to amaze everyone with the accuracy of his memory. (after Google arrived on the scene, he would be fact checked and we don’t believe he was ever found wrong). He was a long-time member of the Santa Barbara Lawn Bowling club and was actively involved in recruiting new members and cooking for their BBQs. He always had the funniest stories which were made even funnier because he would break into laughter in the telling. He enjoyed his “happy hour” after 5:00 whether away or at home.

Tim is survived by his wife, Joy, sons Kevin (Elsa), Steve (Nancy), daughter, Karen, (Bruce) his sister, Mollie (Bob) and four grandchildren. The family wishes to thank VNA Health of Santa Barbara for their caring and professional staff who guided them though his final days. In lieu of flowers the family wishes donations be sent in Tim’s name to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

St. Jude Memorial Fund: Thomas (Timmy) Thornton – St. Jude Memorial Funds (


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