Celebrating the Life of Stan Thornburg
April 12, 2014 • 11 a.m.
Newberg Friends Church
Stanley Laverne Thornburg of Portland, Oregon, died on April 3, 2014, after a protracted illness. He was 67. Stan was born in Liberal, Kansas, where his parents, Hubert and Vivian Thornburg, were pastors. He spent his childhood in Newberg. In adulthood, Stan often regaled his friends with stories of the mischief he used to make with his brother, Kent, and his friends. His prophetic gifts were also in evidence from a young age, as when he asked during open worship at age 9, “If Christianity is so exciting, why is everyone asleep?”
Stan attended George Fox University, where he served as student body president. After his graduation in 1968, he married Catherine Clites; they had two children, Max Cody Thornburg and Haley Lynn Krueger, to whom Stan was fiercely devoted. Stan served for over thirty years as pastor in a number of Quaker churches, including Plains Friends Church, Plains, Kansas; Reedwood Friends Church, Portland, Oregon; Olympic View Friends Church, Tacoma, Washington; and North Valley Friends Church, Newberg, Oregon.
Stan loved food, beer, movies, and friendship. His repertoire of jokes was massive and his ability to pull one out at the right moment made him down to earth and afforded great pleasure to everyone in his company. Through his charm and charisma Stan could change the life of a new acquaintance in a single meeting. He was endowed with the mental capacity of a genius, which he used to understand the nature of God and to help others to better themselves during their limited days on earth. He could connect with people from all walks of life, including oil rig workers and judges. Stan was a gifted leader, speaker, and writer, and he consistently brought innovation and freshness to previously stale ways of thinking. He talked often of writing a book called Jesus a la Carte, which would introduce people to the person of Christ, free from the religious trappings that they may find hurtful or distracting.
More than anything else, Stan wanted to be like Christ and to make a difference among Friends. Those who loved him marveled at his imaginative ways of pursuing and achieving those aims.
Stan was dearly loved by thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing him and who benefitted from his prophetic insight. In his later years, Stan was estranged from his wife, but enjoyed support from friends, particularly his companion and longtime partner in life and ministry, Darleen Ortega, who cared for him during his final illness.
He is survived by his two children, his companion, his mother, and his siblings, Karen McConaughey, Kent Thornburg, and Cleta Crisman.