Aden Gordon Thornock was born on October 31st, 1944, in Logan, Utah to Aden Kay and Kathleen Rex Thornock. His was a happy childhood in the quiet town of Randolph, Utah. Recently, Dad described the Thornock Ranch next to the Otter Creek as “the best place in the world to grow up.” The second of four children, his siblings remember his kind, happy and playful nature and could often hear him singing above the roar of the tractor as they worked in the hayfields. Life on the ranch meant long days of physical labor but Dad loved the experience as he worked alongside his brothers and sister, his cousins, Uncle Russell and his father, Grandpa Kay.
Dad’s congenial disposition would remain with him throughout his life. Voted in as South Rich High School’s Student Body President, he made many friends and left a foul shot record rumored to be over 50 consecutive shots in a row! At age 20, Dad left home to serve as a full-time missionary in the Eastern States mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, he had the opportunity to work at the World’s Fair in New York City during the summer of 1965. Dad often shared his experiences from the Church pavilion at the World’s Fair and later wrote that it felt “good to look those people in the eye and tell them you know Joseph Smith is a prophet.”
Not long after his missionary service, Dad met his sweetheart, Danalee Knouse, and they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Logan Temple on June 21st, 1968. Together, Mom and Dad raised 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls, in the town of Cokeville, Wyoming. To support his large family, Dad worked two-full time jobs as a cattle rancher and with his father-in-law and brother-in-law at the truck stop. With his own two hands, Dad built their home on Sage Street, where they have lived for the past 45 years.
His was a life of laughter and service. He was a member of the Wyoming National Guard, the Cokeville Planning and Zoning Committee, the Lincoln County School Board, the Cokeville Rodeo Committee, the Rocks Springs Grazing Board, and the Bear River Water Commission. But more importantly for him, was his leadership and service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as the Teachers and Priests Quorum President, Young Men’s President, Stake Seventy, Scout Master, Merit Badge Counsellor, Ministering Brother, Sunday School Teacher, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, High Council, High Priest Group Leader, Stake Sunday School Presidency and as a Temple Worker in the Star Valley Temple. At age 34, Dad was called to serve as the newly created Cokeville Second Ward Bishop and supported his ward family as they coped with the bombing at the grade school. He was never hesitant to help a neighbor or a friend in need.
Coupled with his community and Church service, Dad faithfully fulfilled his sacred roles as a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, neighbor and friend. Armed with an endearing sense of humor and an unshakeable testimony of the restored gospel, he stood as a beacon in the community but never shined more brightly than within the walls of his own home. A voracious reader and a lifelong learner, he believed in the divinely inspired mission of America’s forefathers and greatly loved and admired the Prophet Joseph Smith and the early Church converts. In his later years, and with a little prodding, he enjoyed traveling with Mom and never shied away from an opportunity to talk to someone about the Church.
Just as comfortable on a horse as he was standing at the pulpit, Dad’s legacy of love and service will continue on in the lives of his children: Scott (Karie), Shawn (Amy), Leigh Ann (Jeremy), Kara (Fred), Krista (Zack), Jaclyn (Jake), Alec and Kason and his 21 grandchildren. Dad slipped peacefully into the eternities on October 20th, 2020, after a brave fight with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His goodness is forever anchored in our hearts.
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