Willoughby Allen Thorn, 96, joined her ancestors July 27. Even though her incredible memory diminished over the last few years, she remained kind and sweet until the end of her days.
For over 90 years she was the keeper of family history, going back for generations. She found great joy in her kin -- if not with them personally, then in studying her family's shared ancestry.
Although Willoughby spent the last 50 years of her life in Beavercreek, Ohio, her true home was Washington, Indiana, where she was born April 13, 1920, and where she spent her formative years. As a Hoosier, she attended and loved Indiana University in Bloomington. While there, she studied business administration and home economics, graduating from IU in 1942. She became lifelong friends with women of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
In autumn 1942, she met the "love of her life" in Crane, where, as a World War II civilian employee of the Naval Ammunition Depot, Willoughby worked with Lt. Commander Charles Behan Thorn Jr. They were married Sept. 11, 1943, at the First Baptist Church in Washington. After living in Crane for several more years, to Willoughby's delight, they settled in her hometown of Washington, where they raised their five children into their teenage years.
A piano player, "Billee" played Pi Phi songs, The Fairy Queen Waltz, and other "family favorites" to her children as they were growing up. The family moved to Beavercreek in 1966, where her husband worked as an electrical engineer at Wright Patterson Air Force Base until his retirement in the 1980s.
Willoughby was the daughter of Arthur W. and Willoughby Stamper Allen of Washington, and she was a younger sister to Arthur W. Allen Jr. and Ruth Jane Allen. She loved her family - as daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin.
Willoughby had a razor sharp mind. She delighted in playing bridge and working crossword puzzles. She played tennis into her 80s, spent hours recording history through her photography, and adored traveling to New Orleans where her husband grew up. She took special interest in researching the "family tree" and sparkled when she talked about ancestors as though she knew them.
Through it all, Willoughby always had a special connection with children. She was happiest giving love to and spending time with her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and children of family members and friends.
Willoughby Thorn was a member of Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Dayton.
She is preceded in death by her daughter, Ellen; her brother, Arthur W. Allen Jr.; her sister, Ruth Jane Allen; and her husband, Charles.
She is survived by her children, Charles B. Thorn III, Willoughby Thorn, Arthur Allen Thorn and John Gayle Thorn; her grandchildren, Alexandra, Jessica, Ashley, Kylie, Alexander and Erika; and her great-grandchildren, Nolan, Oliver, Landon, Rowan and Camryn.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Christ Episcopal Church, 20 W. First St., Dayton, Ohio 45402, 937-223-2239, Rev. John Paddock officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Christ Episcopal Church or the Alzheimer's Foundation in memory of Willoughby Allen Thorn would be appreciated.
Published on August 15, 2016