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Daniel J. Thornton

April 30, 1945 May 16, 2020
Daniel J.  Thornton
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Obituary for Daniel J. Thornton

Daniel Joseph Thornton passed away on May 16, 2020, due to complications after heart surgery. Dan was born April 30, 1945 in Belvidere, IL to George and Rose (McGrath) Thornton. He graduated from Belvidere High School in 1964 and following his military service graduated with a BS in Education from Northern Illinois University in 1973. Dan enlisted in the US Naval Reserve in 1965 and served on the USS Tawasa during the Vietnam War. He received the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star and the National Defense Service Medal. Following active duty he enlisted in the Army National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1982.

On June 28, 1969 he married Cathleen Coonley in Belvidere. They had two children, Shannon and Ryan. After 29 happy years, Cathy preceded him in death in 1998. Fate brought Dan and Mary together and on April 17, 2000, he married Mary (Kahlhamer) McClain in Negril, Jamaica. They recently reached their 20th anniversary.

Dan’s work with Rockwell International moved him to several states during his long career and when his employment there ended he made his last move to Fond du Lac, WI, where he worked for Giddings & Lewis and then finished his working days at E.R. Wagner in Hustisford. After retirement he worked several hours a week at Menards to fill the winter hours and keep active.

Dan was a member of the Fond du Lac Yacht Club and the Fond du Lac Sailing Club, where he made many new friends and spent his summers teaching youth sailing with his good friend Kevin Gratton. Kevin and his mother, Joan, taught Dan to windsurf, a sport which he loved, and later to sail. He also served as a mate on Sea Scout Ship 5792 and helped his friend Paul Kaestner teach sailing to Scouts from Troop 792.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Cathleen; his parents, George and Rose; parents-in-law, Earling and Loretta Coonley; brothers, Richard, Larry and John Thornton; and a sister-in-law, Carol Zies.

Dan is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Shannon (Jason) Jones and their children, Ethan and Alexa; son, Ryan; step-daughter, Jennifer (Charles) Janz and children, Allison, Alex and Elyssa; step-son, William McClain; sister, Marylyn (John) Salvin; sisters-in-law, Colleen (Dana) Carroll, Sandy (Jerome) Van Buren, Kathy (Bill) Dobey, Cheryl (Bob) Pater; and brothers-in-law, Ken (Suzie) Coonley, Mike (JoAnne), Daniel, Richard (Robin), Walt (Carol) and Tom Kahlhamer; many nieces, nephews and good friends.

A special thank you to all who reached out during Dan’s time in the hospital, and for all of you who prayed continuously for his healing, which sadly was not to be.

Thank you to Dr. Lilly and his team for their dogged efforts to get Dan well, and the dedicated nurses in the St. Agnes ICU for their care and compassion.

Memorials can be directed to Paddle, Power & Sail Lake Winnebago for the youth sailing program.

Due to Covid-19, a private family service will be held at this time. Cremation has taken place.

Dan’s family and friends lost a kind, loving, gentle man who will be missed more than words can ever express. May the wind be always at your back. We love you!

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