Middleton: On February 26, 2017, in the loving arms of his wife and after a brief second battle with cancer, Ted (Theodore) Thornton made it over the rainbow. He was born 08/11/1954 in Madison, WI to Mel and Elizabeth (Coyne) Thornton. Except for his first year, Ted spent the rest of his life in Middleton. Ted graduated from St. Bernard's Catholic School, Middleton High School, Madison Area Technical College and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The most important things in Ted's life were family, community and sports. Depending on the day - not necessarily in that order. Born the middle child in a family of nine kids, family was usually first. Ted married the girl next door in 1983. He welcomed her son Josh into his family and was overjoyed with the births of his daughter Jessie and son Sean. He spent many hours in contemplation with a fishing rod and looked forward to his yearly fishing trip with his dad and brothers, which later included his son and nephews. His competitive spirit was fueled each July at the annual family reunion and croquet tournament. He and his dad co-founded one of the first co-ed softball leagues in the Madison area and he played and coached until his knees gave out and his family needed more of his time. He was involved in his children's endeavors through scouting, sports and drama. One of the highlights of his life was chaperoning the 2004 drama club trip to Scotland with his kids. Ever the volunteer, as well as a consummate good neighbor, he spent many years on the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival committee as a trustee and officer. This deep devotion to the Good Neighbor City earned him the Good Neighbor Award in 1999, and later a seat as the festival's committee president. His love of his hometown and sense of community was evident in his work as well as his home life. Ted was the "only" maintenance supervisor at his last place of employment, Middleton Glen Retirement Community. For 17 years he delighted in meeting and helping new people at the "Glen". He always had a smile, a joke and a screwdriver for the residents. If he couldn't fix it he always had a guy who could.
Ted frequently said he was put on this earth to make people laugh. Mr. Ted always had a story. Mostly funny, often irreverent and more often long and involved. We're sure that he would be saying now that we weren't telling it right and would launch into the "correct" version, to make a short story long. He did tell us that he wanted his obit to say he did not fight his cancer courageously (although he did) but that it kicked his a**.
He loved his daily trips to the grocery store as he always ran into someone he knew either himself or by association. He was a fierce Boston Red Sox, Badger and Packer fan and thanked the tech gods every day for the gift of the DVR. Ted never met a stranger; he always found something to talk about with anyone. He was slow to anger and he was fiercely loyal. He was a compassionate, friendly, funny and thoughtful man. He loved to grow things, know what was happening in the world and his community and he thrived on debate. He will be greatly missed by not only his family but also by the many people whose lives he touched.
Ted is survived by his wife of 33 years, Susan Grimes, stepson Joshua Grimes (Melissa Stream), daughter Jessie O'Brien (Martin), son Sean (Carly)Thornton and his first grandchild Elliott Patricia Thornton born on 2/21/17, who kept him fighting until he could meet her. He is further survived by two sisters: Pat Grove (Bill) and Barb Thornton (Mike Blanda); five brothers: Phil (Kim Ganser), Paul, Don (Carol), Terry (Laure) and Bob (Lauren) Thornton; his close friend and honorary Thornton: Ron Amans; 17 nieces and nephews; many great-nieces and nephews and a small horde of cousins whom he loved to visit all over the country. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Mary Thornton.
The family would like to thank his Agrace hospice team for the fantastic and compassionate care he received. Especially Susan, Jodi, Allyson, Monica, Gail, Tina and Steve. We are further thankful to Dr. Amanda Preimesberger and the staff at Dean West and Dr. Rory Makielski at the Dean Oncology clinic for their care and concern. To our co-workers who gave us the gifts of their time and food, the many neighbors and friends who stopped by to visit and bring food, and especially our neighbors Katie and Dave who helped keep the days as normal as possible, Ted did and would have many words for all of you. For now, a heartfelt thank you must suffice.
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
A visitation with the family will be held at the Cress Center located at 6021 University Ave. Madison, WI 53705 on Friday, March 3rd from 4-7 PM, with an additional hour offered before the memorial service at the Cress Center on Saturday, March 4th, from 2-3 PM. The memorial service will be held at 3 PM, with a luncheon to be served afterward.
In the family tradition, Ted requested that people wear their Hawaiian, Badger or Packer attire.
In accordance with Ted's wishes, memorials in lieu of flowers can be made out to the family to be distributed to his favored charities and organizations. Please share your memories of Ted.
6021 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53705
Ted's smile would light up a room. Everytime I saw him he would give me the biggest grin and say the nicest things that filled my world with sunshine. Even now I sit here smiling as I think of him. My sincere sympathies to Ted's entire family for your tremendous loss. Loving thoughts, Jackie Kalscheur Reynolds
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