Rev. James Welford (Jim) Thornton, Sr. died peacefully at home on October 2, 2023, after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer and kidney disease. Jim is survived by his wife, Sandra Benson Thornton; son, James W. (Jay) Thornton, Jr., and wife, Natalie; daughter, Julie T. Hull and husband, Tim; beloved grandchildren, Sarah Anne Hull, Rachel Elizabeth Hull, Eryn Delaney Thornton, Macauley Grace Thornton, and Zachary Holman Thornton and wife, Kim; sister, Ann T. Simmons; sister-in-law, Catherine Thornton; several nieces and nephews; and a host of cousins. Jim was predeceased by his parents, Thomas Holman and Evelyn Harris Thornton; wife, Carol Rogers Thornton; and brother, Thomas Holman Thornton, Jr.
Jim grew up in Highland Park in Richmond and was a proud member of the Corps of Cadets at John Marshall High School, from which he graduated in 1963. He attended Virginia Tech and Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), being awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Social Welfare from RPI, followed by a Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. Jim enjoyed a career in the Virginia law enforcement and criminal justice systems followed by service in the federal system as a U. S. Probation Officer until 1991, when he responded to a call to ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church (UMC). Jim’s first appointment was to a 3-point charge as a student-pastor in Accomack County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, serving churches in Saxis, Sanford, and Hallwood. He also served Drummondtown UMC and Woodberry UMC in Accomack. Jim later served Macedonia UMC in Louisa County and Byrd Chapel UMC in Fluvanna County, a 10-year appointment. Jim retired from Ivy Creek UMC in Albemarle County in 2016 after serving that congregation for nine years. His Master of Divinity from The Wesley Theological Seminary was conferred in 1995. Among the many things for which Jim will be remembered are his commitment to the gospel of his Lord, Jesus Christ; his humble strength; his calm but firm leadership; his wisdom and encouragement; and his compassionate, reassuring presence. And his sense of fun and humor and love of fishing, movies, music, and singing with the men’s chorus!
A Service of Death and Resurrection will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at Woodward Funeral Home, 200 Fredericksburg Ave, Louisa, VA 23093, at 2:00 p.m with the Rev. David R. Palmer officiating. Family visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m. Following the service, a reception will be hosted by Louisa United Methodist Church, 100 E. Main St, Louisa, VA 23093. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Kidney Fund, 11921 Rockville Pike, Suite 300, Rockville, MD 20852.