Cover photo for Elizabeth A. Thornton's Obituary
Elizabeth A. Thornton Profile Photo

Elizabeth A. Thornton

February 15, 1935 — April 1, 2024

Plymouth

Elizabeth A. Thornton

To view the livestream of the Mass, please click on the link: Mass of Christian Burial for Liz Thornton

Elizabeth A. Thornton (Liz) was born in Alexandria February 15, 1935. She attended school in Alexandria and participated in 4H activities. She loved fishing with her father and brothers and was a champion at cribbage. She learned to count very young so she could tally her own points and compete with her brothers. In high school she played the tuba in the Alexandria band. She studied music and science at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. As Sister San Rafael, she was a member of the Community of St. Joseph from 1957 to 1973. After receiving a Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota she taught science at St. James High School in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she also directed the school choir, introducing musicals into the program. She taught science at St. Anthony of Padua, Minneapolis; St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Paul; Derham Hall, St. Paul. Later, at Wayzata High School, she taught biology, chemistry and freshwater ecology. She was dedicated to her students, who respected her teaching and her strict discipline.

Liz was a member of the Minnesota Science Teachers Association (past president), the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association (past president of the College of Biological Sciences Alumni). She was a member of the Church of St. Bartholomew in Wayzata, and served on the liturgy committee. She also served on the Bassett Creek Watershed Commission.

Music was always a part of Liz’s life. She was a member of the Bach Society at the University of Minnesota for many years and always sang in church choirs. She had a beautiful clear soprano/alto voice; every note rang out with feeling. She also played the piano and violin.

Family genealogy was a long-time interest. She spent many years doing research and prepared an elaborate family tree going back to 1672. She enjoyed visiting the grave in Merrimack, New Hampshire, of great uncle Matthew Thornton, the last signer of the Declaration of Independence, and making gravestone rubbings.

Travel was another source of pleasure. Liz went on many science/research trips offered by the National Geographic Society or the University of Minnesota, among them to Canada and the Galapagos. A trip to Antarctica in 1989 ended when her ship sank while crossing the Drake Passage. She, along with her shipmates, all “proud survivors”, were rescued by the Chilean Navy. During summer vacation Liz attended week-long research/study retreats at Itasca State Park. She went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a church group and another to Spain and Portugal.

Liz was a fiercely independent woman who loved her God, her dogs, singing, and teaching. She was full of energy and was always ready to pitch in where help was needed. She will be remembered for her cheerful outlook, her sense of humor, her kindness and respect for everyone, and her impact as a teacher.

Even though she never returned to Alexandria to live, she visited frequently, fishing for crappies when she could, and always kept Lake Le Homme Dieu in her heart.

Liz is survived by nephews J. Michael and Thomas Thornton; nieces Carol Thornton Nash and Susan Thornton Rogers; grand-nephew Matthew Thornton; grand-nieces Caroline Rogers Abero and Meredith Thornton Rogers; great-grand-nephews Marc Thornton, Leo and Louie Abero; and great-grand-niece Sophie Thornton. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Josephine Thornton, her brothers Ralph, Jr. and Joseph Thornton, and her niece, Nancy Thornton.

Mass of Christian Burial at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, Wayzata, Is scheduled for Thursday July 11 at 11 am with lunch to follow. Interment will be at Kinkead Cemetery, Alexandria, on Friday July 12.

Memorials preferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph Ministries Foundation, St. Paul; St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, Wayzata; or Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, Plymouth.





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Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, July 11, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Church of St. Bartholomew (Wayzata)

630 Wayzata Boulevard, Wayzata, MN 55391

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Thursday, July 11, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Church of St. Bartholomew (Wayzata)

630 Wayzata Boulevard, Wayzata, MN 55391

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Committal Service

Friday, July 12, 2024

11:00 - 11:15 am (Central time)

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