Dr. Richard D. Thornton, 93

May 24, 2023

Dr. Richard D. Thornton passed away at age 93 in his Newbury Court residence in Concord, on May 16, 2023.

Born on September 24, 1929 in Scarsdale, NY, he attended high school in Wellesley Massachusetts, attended Princeton University as an undergraduate and got his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He stayed at MIT as a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science for more than 40 years.

While teaching, Dick formed a company, Thornton Associates, that pioneered water purity measurements through resistivity computations. His research interests included high-speed electrodynamic systems and urban electromagnetic systems. In the 1970s he both participated in the MIT electric car race across the country annually and worked on Maglev as the next form of transportation. His Maglev work ultimately led him to form a second company, MagneMotion, with several of his graduate students.

Technology was only one facet of his life; outdoor adventure was another. While in graduate school he and his friends needed an extra crew member for a two-week sail on the coast of Maine. He ended up marrying that extra crew member, his wife Marian. They shared countless adventures with their children and friends for the next 60 years. Together they enjoyed skiing and sailing, white water canoeing during spring flood season and hiking in the White Mountains during foliage season. Sailing included racing and cruising from New York to Maine including all wind conditions on Buzzards Bay and all types of fog on their annual coast of Maine cruise.

Dick is predeceased by his wife Marian and sister Julie Wagoner. He leaves behind daughter Margo Webber and husband Todd of Grantham, New Hampshire, son Dick and wife Toni of Los Altos, California, son Doug and wife Alison of Harvard, Massachusetts, seven grandchildren, Alex Webber and wife Nicole, Kip Webber and wife Katie, Karen Thornton, Margo Thornton, Christopher Thornton, Arianna Thornton and Nicholas Thornton, great grandson Riley Webber, sisters Mary Carr and Nina Asgeirsson, dearest friend and companion Kathleen Lang, many nieces, nephews and extended family, and friends from all aspects of his life.

Relatives and friends are invited to gather for a memorial service on Sunday, August 6 at 2 p.m. in First Parish, 20 Lexington Road, Concord Center. A reception will immediately follow. Private interment will be held at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Dick’s memory may be made to Appalachian Mountain Club (www.outdoors.org) or Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm, 208 South Great Road, Lincoln MA 01773 (www.massaudubon.org). Checks can be made payable to Mass Audubon. Please include honoree’s name and Drumlin Farm in the memo. Arrangements are entrusted to Dee Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Concord. For his online guestbook and church livestream link, please visit www.DeeFuneralHome.com.