Jesse B. Thornton

Published 8:49 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2021

CHARLOTTEJesse B. Thornton, 98, of Charlotte, passed away, Friday morning, December 18, 2020. Born in Dandridge, TN, he was the son of the late Nickolas Thornton and Thersa Lewis Thornton and husband of the late Virginia Mathis Thornton who passed away in 2008. 

Mr. Thornton retired from the U.S. Air Force.  Jesse began his military career when he joined the U.S. Army being 20 years old and served for four years during WWII. During this time, he served tours in England, France and Germany. Following the four years in the Army, Jesse entered college only to finish one year when he was recruited into the U.S. Army Reserves. After serving a year with the U.S. Army Reserves, Jesse returned to college to complete his second year. With the United States involved in the Korean War, Jesse moved from college to active duty in the U.S. Air Force serving stateside. After the Korean War ended, he served a tour of duty in Nagoya, Japan. Jesse and Virginia Mathis were married in 1950, prior to Jesse joining the U.S. Air Force. Jesse and Virginia would be stationed at several Air Force bases over the years, until Jesse was sent on his second tour of duty to Germany. After a year in Germany, Virginia and their two daughters joined Jesse in Germany to complete his three-year tour. With 17 years in the U.S. Air Force, his military career was complete, having served a total of 22 years and some months of active-duty service. Upon his retirement in Germany from the U.S. Air Force, Jesse, Virginia and their two daughters returned to North Carolina.  The family moved to Charlotte, where Jesse worked for the Charlotte Military Entrance Processing Station for 16 years. In 1984, upon his second retirement from Federal Service, Jesse and Virginia settled in Green Creek, North Carolina. He and Virginia were members of First Baptist Church of Tryon. Jesse served as an usher and a deacon. He was active in his Sunday School class. Jesse and Virginia would return to Charlotte in 2005. They lived in an assisted living community for three years, until Virginia’s passing in 2008. Jesse would remain in Charlotte to be near his two daughters who lived in Charlotte, NC and Rock Hill, SC. Jesse maintained an apartment, living independently until January 2015. After a brief hospital stay, Jesse moved into Asbury Health and Rehabilitation Center at Aldersgate United Methodist Retirement Community, in Charlotte, NC. Jesse would reside there until his passing on December 18, 2020. During the early years at Asbury, Jesse enjoyed being active in Life Enrichment Activities and attending Chapel & Sunday Morning Services. He would talk with staff and sometimes read the newspaper. 

For all the care and provisions that the staff at Asbury provided, Jesse’s family is deeply grateful.

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His family will forever remember the smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement that the staff lavished on Jesse. Surviving are two daughters, Sheila T. Cox (Russell) of Charlotte and Gloria T. Ross (Rob) of Rock Hill.  Surviving are three grandchildren, Hannah Muthersbaugh (Scott), Daniel Cox (Christine), Jared Ross and a great-granddaughter Olivia Cox.  Also surviving are his sister-in-law Rebecca Reese, some nieces and a nephew. A private graveside service was held at Green River Baptist Church Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Tryon, Post Office Box 1287, Tryon, North Carolina 28782.


An online guest register is available at


McFarland Funeral chapel & Crematory

Tryon, North Carolina