R. (Richard) Thorpe Jones, 92 Educator/Administrator Dies In NC

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NORTH CAROLINA, July 8 – R. (Richard) Thorpe Jones passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in Greensboro, NC, on Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Born December 26, 1917, Thorpe spent his formative years in Boydton, where he was hired at the age of five for his first job, as a newspaper delivery boy. During high school, he excelled as Boydton's second baseman.

He met the love of his life, Elva Kathryn Andrews, of Farmville, on a blind date in 1941. After that date, there are no entries in Elva's scrapbook unrelated to Thorpe, and he made sure he never missed a weekend in Farmville so no other suitors had a chance.

A World War II Navy veteran, he served aboard the USS Prevail out of Little Creek, and Pearl Harbor, HI, and was honorably discharged in 1945. Thanks to the GI Bill, he attended N.C. State University and received his undergraduate degree in three years, followed by his Master's of Education from UNC-Chapel Hill (though, loyal as ever, he was a lifelong Wolfpack fan).

After settling in Greensboro in 1949, he began his education administration career as an Industrial Arts teacher at Greensboro High School (now Grimsley). “Mr. Jones” then served as the Business Manager, Purchasing Agent, and ultimately Assistant Superintendent for Business for the Greensboro City Schools before retiring in 1983. Thorpe truly believed Victor Hugo's words, that “he who opens a school door, closes a prison.” During his tenure, he was responsible for the construction of approximately 30 new schools, with almost all of the other schools under his purview undergoing some type of major renovation. He loved jazz records, good mystery books, penny poker, a friendly game of pool, and a well-played round of 18 holes. He was a skilled woodworker, making lamps, furniture, pens, and birdhouses: wrens and bluebirds all over the East Coast continue to benefit from his talent. The quintessential Southern gentleman, he will be remembered for his sincere interest in the life story of each and every person he met, his fierce loyalty to his family and friends, his wicked sense of humor, and his unending generosity.

During his career, Thorpe served as President of the following organizations: North Carolina Audio/Visual Association, North Carolina Industrial Arts Association, North Carolina Association of School Business Officials, and the North Carolina Division of Superintendents. He was a Member Emeritus of the International Association of School Building Officials and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International. Thorpe was a member of the Greensboro Civitan Club since 1954. He served on the Administrative Board of West Market Street United Methodist Church where he was a member, and he was also a Stephen Minister for Christ United Methodist Church. Thorpe was a life member in the Coots International Golf Club, and until just last month was a Senior Meals on Wheels coordinator. He received the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce's prestigious Calvin H. Wiley Award for Excellence in Public Education.

Thorpe is remembered with much love by his survivors, wife, Elva; daughter, Kathryn and husband, Woods Doster; son, Richard and wife, Carolyn; grandchildren, Carrie and husband, Michael, Rebecca, Will, and Jenny; and great-grandchildren, Lela, Laurel, and Olivia.

After a private family service, remains will lie in the Columbarium at West Market Street United Methodist Church.

A Celebration of Life Memorial service will be held at Friends Homes West, 6100 West Friendly Avenue in Greensboro, NC, on Saturday, July 10 at 2 p.m.

Donations may be made to The Employee Appreciation Fund or the Residents Assistance Fund of Friends Homes West, 6100 West Friendly Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27410; Palliative Care Services, 2500 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27405; West Market Street United Methodist Church, Minister's Discretionary Fund, Post Office Box 870, Greensboro, NC 27402-0870; or the charity of your choice. Flowers are welcome.

Hanes Lineberry Funeral Home, North Carolina, is serving the family.

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