Joseph Robert “Bob” Thornhill was born in Joplin, Missouri on Feb. 19, 1939 to Cecil A. Thornhill and Thelma McIntosh Thornhill.
Bob enjoyed the small town of Joplin, but determined he wanted to finish his last two high school years attending Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois. After high school graduation, Bob choose to attend Rolla School of Mines in Rolla, Missouri. Following several years at Rolla, Bob transferred to the University of Arkansas. His next adventure was to join the U. S. Navy Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida. He earned his wings and commission at Corpus Christi, Texas, in June 1960 and received orders to Squadron VU-7 in San Diego where he flew the FJ-4 Fury, later transitioning to the F-8 Crusader.
His tour in San Diego was spent at the North Island Naval Base where in 1960-61 the U. S. Navy Demonstration Team the “Blue Angels” were stationed in Coronado. At this time they were filming a television series call “The Blue Angels.” The team pilots did the actual flying while actors performed as the team characters. Bob enjoyed both the camaraderie of the flying experiences and made many lifelong friendships while stationed in Coronado.
Bob joined the TWA Airline in May of 1965 and initially was trained as a first officer on the Lockheed Constellation, later obtaining ratings on the Boeing 707,727, Boeing Lockheed L-1011 and Boeing 747. He flew internationally as first officer until he earned his captain rank. He flew 34 years for TWA while based in Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and St. Louis before retiring in February 1999 at age 60. In retirement he spent time between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the Bahamas.
Bob moved his residence to Flatrock, North Carolina in 2008. He had suffered a heart arrhythmia episode last month, resulting in a fall at his home. After a brief hospitalization, he entered a rehabilitation facility and never recovered, passing away on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. A long time friend Ina Dale Runnels of Flatrock and his surviving sister Celia Thornhill Rennie from Coronado were by his side at his passing.
Always a gentleman who loved socializing wherever he landed, Bob made friends worldwide and will be missed.
VOL. 112, NO. 18 - May 4, 2022