William L (Bill) Thornton entered the gates of Heaven on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 after a brief illness.

Born Aug. 4, 1934 in Elyria, Ohio, and raised in North Ridgeville, Ohio, he was the son of Howard L. Thornton and Mildred M. (Queenie) Dean Zdara.

Bill began his personal relationship with Jesus Christ on Aug. 4, 1942, his eighth birthday. He graduate North Ridgeville High School in 1952 and furthered his education at the Chicago Institute of Technology obtaining his electrical engineering degree. He began work for Underwriters Laboratories in Cleveland, Ohio and transferred with the company to El Dorado in 1970 staying with the company for 25 years until his retirement in 1986 at the age of 52. Bill also was blessed with the talent to be a part of the Cleveland Indians Baseball Organization in the position of catcher.

However, he gave up his dream to play professional baseball to serve his country in the U S Army. He was stationed in Europe, (primarily  Germany), where he received the Good Conduct Medal and was honorably discharged. Service, in all forms, was a very important part of his life. He revived the American Legion baseball team back in the late 70’s and continued coaching for 10 years before becoming the American Legion Baseball Commissioner for the State of Arkansas. He attended First Baptist Church Norphlet, and was a member of the American Legion, serving in all leadership capacities. He was also a Mason.

Preceding him in death are his parents; a brother, Frederick Thornton; a step-mother, Mary E Thornton; and a step-father, Charles E  Zdara. 

Survivors left to cherish his memory are his daughter, Debra Ann Harrison, and her husband Randall Harrison of Norphlet; a grandson, Gregory Glen Harrison and his wife Kelli Prewitt Harrison of El Dorado; great-grandchildren, Madison Anne Harrison and William Glen Harrison also of El Dorado; a daughter, Linda Chavis of Hollywood, Fla.; a grandson, Walter Chavis IV, Navy Seal Medic, of Memphis, Tenn.; a grandson, Matthew Chavis, currently serving in the US Army in Afghanistan; a grandson, Jesse Chavis, of Hot Springs; a brother, Timothy Thornton of Villa Rica, Ga.; a half-brother, Danny Zdara of Chicago, Ill.; a step-brother, Elgie Taylor of San Diego, Calif.; former wife, Mary Ann Thornton of El Dorado; and a special friend, Sylvia Milton of Norphlet; along with a host of friends he considered his extended family.

Services will be conducted by Moore’s Funeral Home of Jacksonville and Cremation Association of Arkansas in North Little Rock.

Private burial will be held at Rest Haven Cemetery, in El Dorado, with full military honors.

Published: 01/27/2013