James Nash Thornton

Published 7:49 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2021

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James Nash Thornton, 80, of Southport, North Carolina, passed away on March 29, 2021 at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, North Carolina, surrounded by his wife and family.

James was born July 10, 1940 in Edmund, Oklahoma, son of the late Van Monroe Thornton and Alice Green Thornton. He grew up in Edmund,  Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Troy. He was a registered member of the Choctaw Nation and raised in the Methodist religion. James graduated from Troy University in Troy with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and History and taught in both Forest Park and Jonesboro High Schools in Georgia.  In 1963, he began his career as a Public Health Advisor for The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. His career with CDC spanned 34 years combating a variety of infectious diseases in the U.S., Africa, South East Asia, India  while  in the mission of providing healthcare to people around the world. One of his most notable accomplishments was his role as Operations Officer in the eradication of smallpox in Sierra Leone, West Africa from 1967 to 1971. He is recognized by name in many publications as well as the CDC museum in Atlanta. James was also an Army veteran and served in the Alabama National Guard during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He retired from CDC in 1994. He and his wife, Glenda, moved to Southport, North Carolina, after their retirement where he spent many happy days golfing and visiting with family. He was an avid reader and history buff. When his family asked about a specific event in history, he would ask if they would like the short or long version. He was an active member of The Lakes Golf Club and enjoyed every round he played with the Lakes  MGA club members as well as MGA members of other clubs.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Glenda McLean Thornton; three children, Charles (Holly) Thornton, Jeffrey Thornton, and Julia Thornton; seven grandchildren – Jessica, Paige, Sebastian, Christopher, Haleigh, Stefanie, and Sophie; five great-grandchildren – Shae, Tanner, Ryleigh, Brayden, and Oliver; two sisters, Patricia Duke and Marjorie Smith; one sister-in-law, Joann Thornton, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers,  Van Thornton, Jr., Richard Thornton, and Rex Thornton.

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A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 11 a.m. with family greeting from 10-11 a.m. at the Peacock-Newnam & White Funeral Home Chapel, Southport, North Carolina. The service will be broadcast via Facebook Live on the funeral home’s Facebook page.

Online condolences may be made at peacocknewnamwhite.com.

Peacock-Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, North Carolina.