William Gerald “Jerry” Thorne, 72, passed away peacefully in his sleep Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. “Jerry” known to many, was born Nov. 2, 1944 in Clayton. William was preceded in death by his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson “Papa” Thorne, with whom he was extremely close; parents Marie Moore and Bill Thorne of Clayton.
After graduating from Clayton High, he studied both at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While he eventually graduated from NCSU, in his heart, he remained a Tarheel and bled Carolina blue.
William worked hard for his family and loved every minute of it. His entrepreneurial spirit allowed for success in the businesses he started. He was the #1 salesman for Tony Lama cowboy boots in the early ‘70s. He eventually settled in Charlotte and started Sparkle Wash, which became the #1 franchisee in the nation. He later founded Jerry Thorne Construction Company, which for more than a decade, was responsible for building 50 custom homes around the Charlotte area. You could regularly find Jerry riding around the different jobsites in his old Ford pickup truck wearing his familiar dickies uniform. While he was running multiple businesses, he still found time for an early morning newspaper route that allowed him to bond with his children as they drove through the neighborhoods delivering the paper. Success for Jerry meant one thing – being able to provide for and spend time with his family. After retirement, he learned the reverse mortgage trade and went back to work for more than 10 years helping seniors stay in their homes.
His love of country music and folk hymns was infectious. Whether he was singing The Wreck of Old 97, Big Bad John or The Devil Went Down to Georgia (unedited version), he had a way of making others want to sing along. He cherished and nurtured friendships, old and new alike, with unexpected visits and phone calls, often times at unconventional hours. He instilled in his children the importance of loyalty and the joy of unseen generosity. Just as he loved his children, he also loved his brother, Danny. They would talk multiple times a day about Panther football and politics.
Jerry had a passion for travelling with his family. This was most often done cross-country in the family motorhome where he was affectionately known on the CB radio as “The Holiday Man.” He could tell a stranger the route to any city in the entire country, and was proud to say that he had “never been lost a day in his life.” His children will cherish the “Griswold” memories of travelling and are thankful for their dad’s love of driving that allowed them to see the beauty and history of the United States, both of which made him proud to be an American every day.
A memorial mass will be held to celebrate his life at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 6 in the daily mass chapel at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Charlotte, N.C. Arrangements are in care of Hankins and Whittington Funeral Service.
He is survived by his four children and their spouses, Julie and Anthony Goins, T.J. and Marta Thorne, Elizabeth and Joshua Smith, and Georgia Thorne and Julie Criminger; former wife, Martha Thorne; brother and sister-in-law, Daniel and Wanda Thorne; niece and nephew-in-law, Summer and Laramie Fowler; cousin, Ronald and wife, Linda Dyson; and the grandchildren that he loved more than words can express, Drew Goins, Hannah Cate Smith, James Smith and Boone Thorne.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Jerry by donating to a cause that held a special meaning to him; the Cottie and Cake Fund benefitting the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. http://www.givecarolinas.org/cottie-and-cake/
Please share online condolences at www.hankinsandwhittington.com