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Douglass Thorne
Douglass Thorne
In Memory of

Douglass Edward Thorne

1928 - 2019

Obituary of Douglass Edward Thorne

Douglass (Doug) Thorne passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Thursday, May 16th.  He was born in Hanford, CA to Ethel and Edward Thorne and came to Santa Cruz at the age of 4.  He attended Soquel Elementary, Mission Hill Jr. High and graduated from Santa Cruz High School in 1946

From a young age, Doug loved the ocean, and the ocean played a key role in many of his life decisions that shaped his life.

Upon graduation from Santa Cruz High, he attended Cal Poly, San Louis Obispo (near the ocean) and studied Agriculture Science.  While at college, in 1948, Douglass decided to join the Naval Reserve in Santa Cruz.  He would hitch-hike home to Santa Cruz to attend the required meetings and drills, and then hitch-hike back to Cal Poly for classes.

After graduation he attended the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and received his Ensign Officer Commission in 1952. He served on the USS Rendova CVE 114 aircraft carrier in the Pacific during the Korean war, and participated in “Operation Ivy,” a secret hydrogen bomb detonation test in the Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 

He returned on the Rendova to Long Beach, Ca., where on a beautiful, sunny California day, he met his future bride, Cherie, on the sand at Huntington Beach.  Seven months later, on October 10th, 1953 they were married at the Long Beach Naval Chapel – the beginning of a 65-year marriage full of adventure, love and children.  Two months later, on New Year’s Eve, the Rendova, and Doug, left Long Beach for the Pacific with a month in port at Pearl Harbor.   Doug was given permission to bring his surfboard on the ship, and while in Hawaii, was able to enjoy a delayed honeymoon with Cherie (and the waves).

At the end of the war, Doug and Cherie returned to Cal Poly where he obtained his teaching credential.  He began his teaching career as a high school agriculture science teacher at Riverdale High School in the central valley.  He also served as the Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor for the high school students.

Doug longed to return to Santa Cruz and the ocean, so he took a similar job at San Jose High School – close enough to commute from Santa Cruz.  Eight years later he became an administrator at Santa Cruz High School, where he finally was able to live and work near the beach.

Once back in Santa Cruz, Doug dedicated himself to his growing family, his career and his community.   He served as an administrator for Santa Cruz, Soquel and Harbor high schools before retiring from the school system.   He also maintained his Naval Reserve status and was the commanding officer of the Naval Surface Division 12 – 38 at the training center in De Laveaga Park.   Ultimately, he became a Navy Captain in 1976 and retired from the Navy in 1988.

Doug Thorne loved Santa Cruz, and he committed his energy and time to its youth and community organizations.  In  addition to his high school responsibilities he was a school board member in Scotts Valley, and was at one time or another, an officer, or member of many community organizations including the Santa Cruz Host Lions Club, Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society, The National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame for Scholar Athletes, and the Santa Cruz Grand Jury Committee.  He also remained active in the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

His life revolved around the ocean.  As a young boy, he loved to bodysurf, and at the age of 12 he began board surfing.  He was one of the younger members of the original 27 member Santa Cruz Surf Club,  and also served as a beach lifeguard.  He was a member of the Seabright Sons of Beaches volleyball group that held court at Castle Beach (Seabright Beach).   He also loved to sail, and spent many hours with friends and family sailing along the coastline from Cowell’s to Pleasure Point.  Doug enjoyed volleyball into his late 70’s, surfing into his early 80’s and, with the support of good  friends, sailing as recent as last summer.  At the age of 86, Doug co-captained his son’s 35 ft motor yacht on a voyage from Santa Cruz to Marina Del Rey in southern California.

A loving and caring husband and father, Doug will be greatly missed by his wife, children and extended family members.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Cherie, and their five children, their spouses, ten grandchildren and nine great grandchildren: Son, Scott (Cathy) children Janelle Ordal (Rob), Megan Radford (Anthony), Eli Thorne and Annika Smith (Jeremy); Son, Hugh (Sandy) children Bradley Thorne and Janna Thorne; Daughter, Laurie Starkey (Scott) children Maren Dandoy (Kyle) and Ryan Starkey; Son, Eric (Christine) children Austin Thorne and Hunter Thorne; Daughter, Krista Thorne-Yocam (Christian); Great Grandchildren, Grace, Easton and Ashlynn Ordal; Wyatt and Maryann Radford; Kypton, Weston and Aniston Smith; Riley Dandoy. He is also survived by his sister, Barbara Yoder, niece, Karen Ensley, and nephews David Yoder, Gary Yoder and Chris Yoder.

The family held a private burial service at Oakwood Memorial, and a celebration of life memorial service will be announced at a future date.   For memories and stories about Doug, you can go to where you can also contribute to the content with stories and photos. 

The Thorne family would like to thank all of the staff and caregivers from both Hospice and Care From the Heart for their professional and loving service over the last few weeks.  We also wish to thank the members of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society for their support, concern and loving actions toward both Doug and his family.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to one of the following organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County 940 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA  95066;  Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society, PO Box 5366, Santa Cruz, CA 95063 or MOAA Scholarship Fund, PO Box 1824, Merrifield, VA, 22116-9917