Thornton to celebrate 100 years

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

Anyone who reaches the milestone age of 100 deserves to have a great celebration in his or her honor.

So, a party has been planned in honor of Alice Thornton from 2 until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the First United Methodist Church fellowship hall.

The Grande Lady of Troy will celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, April 27 rather quietly with her family but the party on Saturday will be a lively event with all friends and relatives invited.

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Thornton grew up in Oklahoma and left the Dust Bowl for New York to pursue a higher education.

During that time, it was very unusual for a young woman to leave home for a place like New York. Thornton achieved her goal, went back to her home state to teach, marry and raise a family of six children.

He husband died at an early age and she was faced with raising her family alone.

In 1953, she and her children moved to Troy where she had accepted a position in the art department at Troy State College.

During her 18 years in the art department, Thornton brought many innovative ideas to the table that elevated the college's art department to a high level of respectability.

After she retired from the university, Thornton continued teaching, but on a volunteer basis at Pike Pioneer Museum.

She demonstrated the dying arts of weaving and spinning to hundreds of school children as well as adults who were fascinated by the old-time arts.

Over the years, Thornton continue to paint and her watercolors were much sought-after by collectors and others who appreciated the talents of this gentile woman.

Over the years, Alice Thornton has touched many lives and those she has influenced are the better for it.

School art teachers are passing along what they learned from her their students and the ripple effect of her teaching will go on for many years to come.

She has helped to revive the fading arts of spinning and weaving so that generations yet to come might know and appreciate them.

She has displayed the pioneer spirit of her ancestor who claimed land in the Great Land Rush of 1889.

Thornton's life is an exercise in self-reliance, which is the thread that has run through her 100 years from her humble beginnings in Oklahoma, her studies in New York, as mother, a teacher or a community volunteer.

On Saturday, all of those who have known and been influenced by this great lady are invited to celebrate her 100th birthday with her.