A native of Palestine, Texas, William J. Thornton was born on Aug. 17, 1923. When he graduated from high school, World War II was being fought in Europe. Bill Thornton joined the Army Air Corps and became the leader of the team in North Africa to set up America's first High Frequency Direction Finder Network.
His military training would eventually lead to a 30-year civil service career culminating with retirement in 1987 as Deputy Director for Manpower and Organization at Electronic Security Command at Kelly AFB.
Prior to joining ESC, Thornton earned an education degree from Texas A&M University in 1950 and was a teacher and coach for Brenham High School, where he taught the importance of "learning the basics" and "being competitive."
Bill and his wife, Lois (who passed away in 1994), were always interested in their four children's health, homework, report cards, school friends, and school events. All four of his children graduated from Holmes High School and pursued professional careers. Thornton's interest in his children and their education led him to serve Northside as President of the Lackland City Elementary PTA, Rayburn Middle School PTA, Holmes High School Booster Club, and Treasurer of the Northside Council of PTAs. It was his involvement in PTA that led him to run for the Northside School Board.
Thornton was elected to the Board in April 1968 and served seven consecutive three-year terms. He served as School Board President in 1973, 1974, and 1985, as Vice President three times, and Secretary twice. He represented NISD on the Bexar County Federation of School Boards (where he served two terms as President) and on the Board of Directors of the Texas Association of School Boards.
NISD achievements to which William J. Thornton contributed include reading specialists and music teachers for all the schools, the PALS (Parents Assisting Learning) volunteer program, successful bond elections to construct 30 new schools and accommodate enrollment growth, the Athletic Complex, Paul Taylor Field House, Northside Memorial Stadium, Aquatics Center, Inselmann Field, tennis and soccer facilities, and Northside Activity Center.
Other initiatives Thornton endorsed include Northside's nationally-recognized pre-kindergarten and bilingual education programs, special education, high school advanced placement courses, and the competitive athletics program for female students.
Mr. Thornton passed away on Feb. 23, 2007 at the age of 83. He was an advocate for the District, for all children and for the educational community.