"We all depended on him" is how Billie Gofourth Stewart described Rev. Tom Thorne, who died Saturday, September 9.

"We all depended on him" is how Billie Gofourth Stewart described Rev. Tom Thorne, who died Saturday, September 9.
Thorne wore many hats in Neosho and touched many lives. He served as a teacher, coach, athlete and minister and, in all his endeavors, he was admired and loved by everyone who knew him.
A 1961 graduate of Neosho High School, Thorne was president of the senior class. Stewart, a member of the same class, remembers him fondly.
"He was a serious guy, but could be very funny. He was so thoughtful of people. Everybody loved Tom Thorne," she said.
Stewart also mentioned him setting up a Santa workshop in his front yard every Christmas and playing Santa Claus to dozens and dozens of children.
Charles Nodler also remembered Thorne, "Tom was about the first person I met when I moved to Neosho. My family moved here in the summer of 1961, and I took swimming lessons at the old pool at Camp Crowder. Tom had just graduated from high school and was the life guard. I got to know him there and then we went to the Methodist Church together."
Thorne excelled as an athlete and Nodler recalled some of his athletic achievements. "I was there when he set the Masters world record in the hurdles in 1979 in Eureka, Kansas. I think Tom was teaching out there somewhere."
Nodler also noted that Thorne, at one time, was the national Masters champion in the decathlon.
"He was a great guy," Nodler said. "We had a lot of fun going to track and field events together. He was easy-going and laid back."
British athlete, Patricia Oakes, knew Tom through his international track and field competition. She is part of the British Masters team of athletes that Tom invited to Neosho on many occasions.
"This is such sad news," Oakes said. "I know that he and Patty had just celebrated their golden wedding, so it was a shock. He was such a man of the community. Neosho will indeed be sad, just as are we."
In 1985, Thorne was ordained as the minister of the First Congregational Church of Neosho, and served the congregation until his death.
Thorne was loved by his church. According to Robert Jackson, 20-year member, Thorne was a caring person. "When a member of the congregation had a problem, they could go to him and usually Tom would solve the problem," Jackson said.
Thorne was very serious in the pulpit, but sometimes could be humorous. "He would poke fun at someone in the congregation—and they probably needed it," Jackson said.
"Tom had a favorite hymn—Amazing Grace. He would sing it solo, in Cherokee, and everybody loved hearing it. We are going to miss him terribly."