Robert P. Thurner of Tenafly, NJ, formerly a resident of Wellsville, NY for over 60 years, a civic leader, man of unquestioned Catholic faith, loving, caring husband, father and uncle, passed into the arms of the Lord on September 30, 2021, after a brief illness. He was born on January 22, 1923 in Middletown, NY, the son of Joseph John and Mary Theresa (McHugh) Thurner, who predeceased him.
Bob is a 1942 graduate of Middletown, NY High School and a 1950 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, with a B.S. in Mathematics, and minors in Chemistry, Philosophy and Sociology. While attending St. Bona’s, he was also a member of ROTC. Bob served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946 and again in the U.S. Army Field Artillery in Korea as a First Lieutenant in 1951 and 1952.
Bob moved to Wellsville in 1952 working as an engineer for the Air Preheater Company, 33 years later retiring as Manager of International Relations. Bob also met the love of his life that year at the Knights of Columbus. On June 20, 1953, he married the late Gean Crichton and they shared 43 years of love, laughter, faith and service. Bob deeply loved and played a significant role in the lives of his large extended family. His many acts of kindness – like regularly taking a truck bed full of nieces and nephews out for ice cream, teaching many of them how to drive, sharing his love of sweets and butter with all – are the stuff of family lore.
Bob was also very dedicated to the Wellsville community. He was a two-term member of the Village Board of Trustees, and served as Deputy Mayor for 4 of those 6 years. Later, Bob served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Jones Memorial Hospital including the time of the 1972 flood when a wing of the hospital collapsed into the Genesee River.
Bob was a member of Immaculate Conception Parish and served in many roles including Finance Committee Chair, Trustee, Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, lector, fundraiser and even altar server when needed. He initiated a program of adult religious education / lectures at the Parish, calling upon his considerable network of priests and religious to present sessions. His own quiet, intense faith was an example and inspiration.
In retirement, Bob pursued his love of golf and the camaraderie of his many friends, travelled in the US, Ireland and Italy, and maintained a winter residence in Florida for a number of years. Times with friends and family members were the highlight – from coffee and danish at the Modern Diner with his posse of daily mass attendees – to too many to count lunches and dinners at the Coffee Mill (the PIE!) and “The Big House” – to the many big and small occasions where he made us all feel special.
In keeping with Bob’s spirit, he would ask that you reach out to family, friends, or a lost connection to say hello. In this time, when so many could use some hope, joy and peace, a call, letter or email may be exactly what they need.
Bob is survived by his children: Christopher of Tenafly, NJ and Susan (Brian) of Arlington, VA, sister-in-law Helen (Lawrence) Crichton-Monroe and brother-in-law Richard (Maureen) Lynch, as well as by his beloved 27 nieces and nephews, 47 ‘greats’ and 39 ‘great-greats’. He was predeceased by: sisters, Marie Frances Thurner Kane and Eileen Thurner Hall; brother Joseph Thurner; sisters-in-law, Patricia Crichton Walsh, Maureen Crichton Lynch; and brother-in-law John Crichton. Bob’s ‘granddog’ Baxter was his buddy and brought him joy, as Blackie, Schultz, and Bridget did before him.
Bob was very appreciative, as are Chris and Susan, of the compassionate and patient care provided to Bob in his final years by Olivia, Chris, Roseman and Bernice.
In lieu of flowers, Bob and his family would ask that donations be made to Immaculate Conception School, or to the Fr. Bill Brown, OFM Mission Club to support his over 50-year mission in Peru, both of Wellsville, NY.
A mass of Christian Burial was held on October 9th at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Tenafly, NJ. A memorial mass for Bob will be held at Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville on Saturday June 4, 2022. Bob will also be laid to rest with his beloved Gean at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Wellsville at that time. To leave online condolences, please visit www.embserfuneralhome.com.