from the Cotton Mission Chapter Newsletter, December 2020
Robert K (Bob) Thornley is recognized as a Modern Pioneer for his many contributions to his family and ancestors, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the community of St. George, and the Cotton Mission Chapter of the National Sons of the Utah Pioneers organizations.
Bob was born on 7 July 1936 near Aberdeen, Idaho. His first marriage was to Mary Lou Heaps in the Los Angeles Temple in 1959 and they became parents of six sons. On the death of his wife (Mary Lou Heaps) from an automobile accident in 1990, he became a widower. Bob later met Sally Willford exiting the St. George Temple and after their courtship he married Sally on 6 March 1993 in the St. George Temple. He then become Stepdad to four additional children. He and Sally share a large family of 10 children, 55 grandchildren and 39 plus great- grandchildren with more on the way. He and Sally have great love for their descendants. He has lived in Idaho, California, and Nevada (31 years) and moved to St. George in 2005.
Bob served four years in the Air Force as crew chief on Aircraft & Power plant components. He was qualified to work on numerous components of jet and propeller-driven aircraft including the B-17. After discharge from the Air Force, he worked for 36 years for the FAA as an electronic engineer, again working on many (over 44) electronic components.
While still living in Mesquite, Nevada, Bob & Sally served a mission in 2000-2001 at the St. George Temple Visitors Center and Historic Sites. They learned to love St. George and eventually moved to St. George in 2005. He loves family history and has spent the past 20 years serving at the Historic St. George Live (with Sally) while portraying Jacob Hamblin. His portrayal of Jacob Hamblin is unforgettable by all that have had the privilege of witnessing his dress, actions and knowledge.
Bob has served in four (4) Bishoprics both in Nevada and Utah as a Counselor or as Executive Secretary. He has also served as a Ward and Stake Missionary. He also is as a member of the Stake High Council. His favorite calling was as a Primary Teacher. In addition to his church service, he is a gifted computer expert willing to help anyone in need. The single sister friends and neighbors (of Bob & Sally) love and appreciate him. He is willing to attempt fixing anything. Bob was ordained to the Office of Seventy by Marvin K. Ashton.
Bob’s service in the Cotton Mission Chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneer’s spans thirteen years. He and Sally first became involved in the Cotton Mission Chapter when they attended the National Convention held in Richfield. They have been dedicated attendees of the National Convention since then. Bob served as the Community Involvement Director in 2008 and 2009. This assignment included 4th Grade Essays, High School Scholarships, St. George Live, Government Relations and Celebrations. He was selected to serve as President Elect in 2010, President in 2011 and Past President in 2012. He has also served as the Pioneer Magazine representative for the Chapter as well as the St. George Live Coordinator since 2013.
He has touched the lives of many in so many areas it is hard to imagine how he has found the time and energy to accomplish so much. He serves in a silent, even anonymous manner that no one even knows about. He is to be commended for doing much more than he has ever been asked to do without seeking any recognition or reward of any kind. He is truly a living example of “Christ-like” service and a modern day pioneer.
It is our pleasure to recognize Robert (Bob) K. Thornley as our modern day pioneer and present the Cotton Mission Chapter, Sons of Utah Pioneers, Modern Day Pioneer Award to him.