David Valentine Thornell passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, Utah. He was 87 years old. David was born April 3, 1935, to Fredrick and Myrtle Thornell in Slough Buckinghamshire, England.
His early years were filled with the memories of World War II. He witnessed German bombs dropping on neighbor’s houses and seeing RAFs shooting down enemy aircraft. As a child, it was difficult for him to comprehend the magnitude of these events, but they infused him with a sense of patriotism, frugalness, and a steely determination to work hard and never give up.
After the war, and the loss of his mother to cancer, he immigrated to America and joined the US Army, eventually becoming a skilled sharpshooter and joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After 4 years in the Army, the GI bill provided him the opportunity to attend the University of Utah, where he earned two Masters’ Degrees and became a lifelong fan of the Runnin’ Utes. He loved watching them play, and if you ever heard him yelling at home, it was usually at the TV during a Utah game or a Premier League soccer match.
David’s decision to join the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints surprised many in his family. He’d been raised Anglican, in the Church of England, and he openly admitted his first impression of the Church of Jesus Christ was that it was, “very American.” However, once baptized, he set his feet on a lifetime course of study and service in the Church that eventually included sending 5 of his children on missions and, along with his wife, Linda, serving a couple’s mission to Hong Kong.
Professionally, his accomplishments were impressive. He rose in rank at Hill Field Air Force Base to a GS-15, working initially as an engineer and, upon his retirement, the Deputy Director for all landing gear in the Air Force inventory.
Above all, David’s greatest joy was being a husband and father. In August 1960 he married Sally Gull and together they had 8 children. Later, during a rehearsal for one of his many stage performances, he met the love of his life, the late Linda Margaret LaBella. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple, December of 1981, and together they continued to raise a total of 14 children, 36 grandchildren, and so many great-grandchildren that the family Facebook page is currently entitled, “115 and Counting.”
He was known for his quick wit and dry humor, his British-born love of gardening, and his baffling appreciation of all things Desert Industries and DIY projects (bless you, Bryan). He dedicated many hours to discovering, documenting, and preserving the Thornell family history. To honor past ancestors, he traced the Thornell name back 13 generations to 1599. To strengthen current family bonds, he filled the car with kids and embarked on numerous camping trips, suffered patiently through children’s piano recitals, band performances, choir concerts, and sporting events, all with video camera in hand. Christmas presents always included the Family Calendar that would mark everyone’s birthday and be filled with hundreds of pictures taken throughout that year.
After his retirement, he spent the rest of his life ensuring that every member of the family had access to all those photos, video recordings, journal entries and family history.
David was preceded in death by his mother, Myrtle Idina Tudball, father, Frederick Henry Thornell, beloved wife Linda Margaret LaBella, brother Peter Grenville Thornell, stepmother Jean Fraser Ross, daughter Stacey Lavern Thornell, and son Richard Fredrich Thornell.
He is survived by his children, Kit Thornell (Robyn), Bountiful, Utah; Bonnie Germer (Reid), Layton, Utah; Marie Parton (Doug), Trenton, Georgia; Robyn May (Henry), Fort Worth, Texas; Jill Miller (John), Yorba Linda, California; MaLou Thornell (daughter-in-law), West Valley City, Utah; Jeffrey Thornell (Cheriann), Woods Cross, Utah; Colin Thornell (Helen), Nokesville, Virginia; Christopher Schoolfield, Wendover, Nevada; Amy Dodson (Jamey), Clinton, Utah; Jennifer Thornell, Bountiful, Utah; Sarah South (Brian), Bountiful, Utah; Elizabeth Christensen (Bryan), Bountiful, Utah. He is grandfather to 36 and numerous great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 2, 2022, at the Bountiful 28th Ward chapel, 1450 South 350 West, Bountiful, Utah. A viewing will be held Sunday evening from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Russon Mortuary, 295 North Main, Bountiful, Utah and Monday morning from 9:45-10:45 a.m. at the church prior to services. Interment- Bountiful City Cemetery.
Services will be streamed live on the Russon Brothers Mortuary & Crematory Facebook page and on David’s obituary at www.russonmortuary.com