CLINTON – Ernest N. Thorp, 95, of rural Clinton passed away at 8:47 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 31, 2017) at Hawthorne Inn, Clinton.
Our family wishes to thank the staff at Hawthorne Inn as well as the 24/7 caregivers who gave such loving and dedicated care to Ernest.
Services for Ernest will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Clinton United Methodist Church, 308 E. Main St., Clinton, with the Rev. C. Don Ferrill officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in Woodlawn Cemetery, Clinton. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the church, with Masonic Rites at 4 p.m.
Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family requests memorials be given to the Clinton United Methodist Church Endowment Fund or the American Red Cross, Central Illinois Processing Center, P.O. Box 811460, Chicago, IL 60681-1460, or to a charity of the donor's choice.
Ernest was born on Feb. 3, 1921, in Clinton, the son of Claude W. and M. Louise (Carter) Thorp. He married Mary Ellen Harris in 1945 (she passed away in 1986), Verneal Dunn in 1990 (she passed away in 2005), and Helen Hume in 2006.
Survivors include his wife, Helen; son, Nelson I. (Linda) Thorp of rural Wapella; daughters, Carol van Rossum of Lincoln, Neb., Marjorie Thorp of Bothell, Wash., and Zelda Lewis of Joliet; son, Lewis A. (Cathy) Thorp of Herndon, Va.; seven grandchildren, Jennifer (Trent) Klomhaus, Natalie (Rory) O'Connell, Jered (McKenzie) Thorp, Emily (Jason) Plourde, Kira (Gabrial) van Rossum, Sarah (Steve) Kaminsky and Doug (Emily) Lewis; eight great-grandchildren; three sisters, Andrea Miller of Winston-Salem, N.C., Ruth Lutz of Dewey and Norma Wedekind of Raymond; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Carl E.; three sisters, Evalyn, Mary Alice Moberly and Sarah Jackson; and son-in-law, Charles van Rossum.
Ernest lived and thrived on the farm. He attended Thorp Grade School, Wapella High School Class of 1939, Illinois State Normal University for two years and then graduated from the University of Illinois in 1943.
Ernest obtained his private pilot's license in 1941.
He served in the Army Air Forces (1943-1945) as a B-17 pilot. He was shot down over the North Sea and was a POW for nine months.
Upon coming home, he joined his brother and father in the family seed business, Thorp Seed Company. He retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a captain.
His community involvement included the Methodist Churches of Prairie Center and Clinton. He was proud to become a certified lay leader of the church and served on district and conference boards of the United Methodist Church.
He served on the Wapella School Board and was able to give all 5 of his children their high school diplomas.
Other involvements included being a director of First National Bank of Clinton, the Masonic Orders, Kiwanis, Farm Bureau, DeWitt County Housing Authority, DeWitt County Building Commission, DeWitt County Conservation Board, DeWitt County Co-op and the Clinton YMCA.
Ernest was an active member of the International Flying Farmers and served through the executive offices.
He received great satisfaction in speaking publicly about his World War II experiences. His passions were flying (accumulating over 7,000 hours over 70 years), reading, trees, birds and his beloved Chicago Cubs baseball team. Numerous people had their first airplane ride with Ernest as a pilot.
Ernest was known about town for his 1977 White Ford LTD station wagon that he drove until 2014. Whether it be driving to the post office or busting snow drifts, it was special to him in many ways.
Ernest was recognized by the community for his philanthropic gifts.
Ernest's life was based on his faith, his love of family, flying and community. A man who made a difference to many, in many different ways. "He was just a boy that wanted to be home on the farm."