Obituary: Clarence Gould Thornton, 87

Clarence Thornton was a very accomplished person in his professional and personal life.

Clarence Gould Thornton, Ph.D., 87, of Freehold Township died on Thursday, Oct 11.

Dr. Thornton was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 3, 1925. He served in the Navy in the WWII in the Asia Pacific Area Campaign and was stationed in Shanghai at the conclusion of the war. Upon his return to the States, Dr. Thornton earned a B.S. in Chemistry, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Michigan, setting the stage for a long and accomplished career characterized by creative imagination, dynamic leadership and keen insight.

Dr. Thornton has been internationally recognized through both industry and government positions for his many personal scientific and technical contributions. He directed major programs in semiconductor devices, condensed matter physics, integrated electronics, electron tubes, displays, high energy electronics, power sources, and electronic materials. Early in his career, Dr. Thornton served as Section Head at Sylvania Electronic Products and Director of Microelectronics Research and Engineering at Philco-Ford. While there, he led the development and production of the first Large Scale Integrated Circuits for the National Security Agency for secure communications. In 1972, he joined the Federal Services, serving as Director of the Electronics Technology and Devices Laboratory at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

Dr. Thornton’s personal contributions made a significant impact on the Army’s ability to fight and win on a modern high-technology battlefield. He was the developer of the first very high frequency transistors which made it possible to build reliable radios for the Army. He also established the first automated manufacturing processes for producing these devices at affordable cost. For these and for his subsequent contributions in government services, he received the Armed Forces Communications Association Gold Medal.

Throughout his career, Dr. Thornton’s efforts greatly accelerated the application of advanced technology in secure communications, high resolution radar, smart missiles, and electronic warfare systems, for which he was decorated for Exceptional Civilian Service by the Secretary of the Army. In 1987, Dr. Thornton was appointed by President Reagan to the rank of Distinguished Executive in the Senior

Executive Service. He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Additional awards included the Army R&D Achievement Award, the IEEE Centennial Medal, and the Crozier Prize for scientific contribution. In 1994, he was awarded the IEEE Engineering Leadership Recognition Award for Scientific and Management leadership in developing military technologies and transitioning these developments to industry and academia.

Beyond his many professional accomplishments, Dr. Thornton was very active in his community. As a member of the Monmouth Boat Club, he raced his sailboat, Excalibur, to victory on many occasions.

He was also a golf enthusiast, playing for a number of years at the Colts Neck Golf Club. Later in life, he began an active campaign to collect and sell lost golf balls on the course to benefit local charities. Dr.

Thornton was also very active in the Colts Neck Reformed Church.

While pursuing life with a passion, Thornton‘s most important role was husband to his wife Gloria, a true life partner. Among his many accomplishments, he was proudest of his family. He leaves behind Gloria, his son, Richard Scott and wife Kathleen, daughter Susan Carol and husband Nigel, four grandchildren, Christine and husband John, Michael, Elizabeth, and Andrew, and one great grandson, Bennett.

The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. on Oct. 20, at the Colts Neck Reformed Church, 72 County Road 537, Colts Neck. Friends and family will be received from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and after the service. In memory of this remarkable man, and in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Colts Neck Reformed Church.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Clayton & McGirr Funeral Home. For directions, information or condolence messages to the family, please visit www.claytonfuneralhome.com.


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