Mark Thornewill
Mark Thornewill
Mark Thornewill

Virtual Memorial and Celebration of Life

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Mark Lyon Thornewill Invite.pdf

Obituary of Mark Thornewill

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Mark Lyon Thornewill, 1925 - 2020 Mark Lyon Thornewill died peacefully at 10:10 p.m. on October 4, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky, having lived a life of courage, exploration, curiosity, enthusiasm, introspection, faith, humility, generosity and service to others. He is survived by his five children: Judah Thornewill (Araby), Luke Thornewill (Carrie), Joanna Thornewill Hay (Taylor Hay), Shane Thornewill (Wendy), Jeremy Thornewill (Caroline); his 8 Thornewill grandchildren: Ben, Alice, Raike, Lily, Elsie, Joseph, Nicholas and Wes; and two nephews in England, Bill Miller and Robert Miller, sons of his sister Jane Miller. A virtual memorial and celebration of Mark’s life will be held on November 1, 2020 at 12:00 noon. To receive an invitation to join this event, please visit: ● Rogers Funeral Home: ● Mark Thornewill 1920-2020 Website: Beginnings: 1925 – 1941 Mark was born in London, England on February 12, 1925 to Elsie Amabelle Thornewill (née Lyon) and Miles Hammond Thornewill. His parents, older sister Jane and he lived at 33 Thurloe Square in South Kensington; at Haynes Farm, Copthorne, Sussex; and at the Savoy Hotel, where his father was managing director. To the end of his days, he remembered trout fishing with his father at Haynes Farm and his mother’s strong support throughout his life. He attended L'Institut Francais and other day schools in London. He then boarded at Twyford School, Winchester from 1934 -1938 and the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, 1938 - 1942. Royal Navy: 1942 – 1953 After war was declared in 1939, Mark went to sea at age 17, serving as Midshipman on HMS Mauritius from Scapa Flow to the Indian Ocean. He served as Sub-Lieutenant in the North Sea and Russian convoys where he earned an Arctic Cross medal for bravery. He also supported the Aegean Sea island operations; Italian coastal operations; 'VE Day' (Victory Europe) 1945; and 'VJ Day' in Japan. After the war, he visited Australia; Tokyo Bay, Japan; up the Yangtze Kiang River to Nankin; Shanghai; Hong Kong; and New Zealand to 'show flag'. He was appointed staff officer, Korean war-zone operations, U.N.Task Group under British command, 1951-53 from HMS Ladybird in Sasebo, Kyushu. He served as Flag Lieutenant to the Admiral, British Joint Services Mission, Washington DC, USA. In 1950 Admiral Dalrymple Hamilton wrote: "Lieutenant Thornewill has carried out the duties of Flag Lieutenant in Washington [DC] entirely to my satisfaction. Quite apart from the considerable personal services he has rendered to me and my family, he has got on extremely well with all kinds of Americans, especially those of his own age and thus has done as much as he could in his sphere to further good relations. He is endowed with plenty of moral courage, he has high ideals and lives up to them. He is of good appearance, well mannered and considerate and takes infinite trouble. I shall be sorry to say goodbye to him as will my family." Once, while on shore leave, he was invited to a dance at which the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were guests of honor. Always an excellent dancer, he asked if he could have the honor of the first dance. He said that Princess Elizabeth was a superb dancer and easy conversationalist. He described how, a few days later, the princess’s lady-in-waiting rang his friend asking after “that nice lieutenant.” But alas, he had gone back out to sea. Spiritual/Religious Awakening: 1951 - 1959 Mark’s spiritual/religious life began after a tragedy. In November 1951, Mark was serving as executive officer, second in command on HMS Grenville, a destroyer with one-hundred and fifty men, when there was a midnight collision in the English Channel resulting in seven deaths. Mark had no hand in causing this situation (five others were later court-martialed). However, he leapt into action and was subsequently given credit for helping save the ship. He rapidly organized damage-control, cared for the injured and stabilized the ship for the limp home to Devonport. At 4 a.m., the work complete, he was resting alone on deck, all quiet, on course at five knots, when he says he suddenly experienced an overwhelming feeling of the presence of the Divine, a sense that there must be more to life than he had hitherto understood, and a deep sense of calling. Over the coming years, this spiritual awakening led him to change his life. He left his naval career in 1953 to enter St. John's Hall, London College of Divinity, an evangelical Anglican seminary in Surrey. In 1956 he became an ordained deacon in the Anglican Church of England and then a priest serving at Bradford Cathedral. He served as rector of Otley Parish Church from 1959 - 62; and Lifton, Kelly & Bradstone parishes in Devon from 1962 - 66. His faith journey would become an organizing principle of his life. He attended Billy Graham’s first crusade in England, had strong evangelical leanings, began exploring concepts like the unconscious mind, saw God as an active presence in the world, and saw life as a never-ending journey towards God. Marriage, Family and Moving to America: 1959 - 1983 In 1959, he met Margaret Hilaria Gibbs at a dinner party hosted by her Grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Mount Edgcumbe. With Hilaria (Margy), Mark found a person who shared his passion and interests regarding spirituality, justice, social change and family as well as someone willing to challenge and question him and herself at every level. They were married in 1961 by the Reverend Donald Coggan, the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury, at Maker Church at Mount Edgcumbe. Nine months later, the twins, Judah & Luke, were born in Otley. Joanna was born at home in June 1965 in the Rectory at Lifton. Mark’s quest continued with a move to America. In August 1966 the family sailed across the Atlantic, from Southampton to New York City, on the SS France. He boarded the ship with his wife, three children under the age of six, two long haired dachshunds, a green Volkswagen van full of their belongings, and the marvelous presence of Hilaria’s 16-year-old sister Penelope. They lived in Richmond, Virginia for two years, while Mark completed a chaplaincy training and residency for clinical pastoral education at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals. In 1968, while still in Richmond, the family adopted ten-week-old Shane, the first true American of the family. In September 1969, Mark was hired as Director of Pastoral Care at The Norton Hospitals and the family moved to Louisville, Kentucky. For the next 20 years, the family lived at 2516 Top Hill Road near Cherokee Park in Louisville. Jeremy was born in 1970. The five children remember a vibrant, happy upbringing in a house filled with music, vegetarian food, no TVs allowed, transcendental meditation, and a never-ending stream of visitors. Lie Down Like a Lamb, Rise Up Like a Lyon: 1983 – 2003 In 1983, Mark set forth on yet another course in his life. He and Hilaria decided to go separate ways in their marriage though they remained friends to the end of his life. At age 60, he retired from his work as a chaplain, took early retirement from the church, and became a licensed massage therapist. He would say that his new mission was the “literal laying on of hands.” After training at the Atlanta School of Massage he established Lyon Massage. For the next 25 years, he provided therapy to hundreds of individuals including Louisville Ballet dancers. At one point he was chosen to be the massage therapist for dancer Rudolph Nureyev before and after his performances and rehearsals while in residency in Kentucky. During this time, Mark met Lana Wertz, his partner of 18 years, at Al Shands’ House Church in Louisville. Lana and Mark hosted many parties in Louisville and Frankfort and travelled throughout the U.S., the U.K., Africa and Israel. The Final Years: 2003 - 2020 After more than thirty years in Louisville, Mark moved to 116 E. Campbell Street in Frankfort, Kentucky, near his daughter Joanna. In Frankfort he walked everywhere, knew everyone and enthusiastically participated in everything. Every Thursday and Friday evening he did his “pub crawl” through Downtown Frankfort lingering the longest with his friends at Capital Cellars. He was a dedicated member of Frankfort’s Church of The Ascension, and then became a Catholic, attending the Church of the Good Shepherd for many years, before finally joining St. Peter’s Anglican Church near his house. His faith continued to deepen in these years. He never stopped seeking, questioning, praying and orienting himself to God on a daily basis. As Mark’s memory declined, at age 92, he moved from his cozy Campbell Street home to a beautiful apartment in Treyton Oak Towers in Louisville, where he also become a member of Calvary Episcopal Church. Remarkably, Treyton Oak Towers is situated at Third and Oak Streets, built on the footprint of the old Norton Memorial Infirmary, where Jeremy was born. This is the very hospital that hired Mark as Chaplain, thus bringing the Thornewill Family to Kentucky. This seems an uncanny story of returning full circle but is indicative of the rootedness that Mark felt to his adopted Kentucky and to his family. A Life that Touched Many Hearts Mark was always present for his family, for neighbors, friends and strangers. He expressed deepest love for his extended family even in his final hours. He welcomed everyone with open arms and refreshments, smiling ear to ear, with enthusiastic excitement for any new endeavor. All who spent time with him felt uplifted by his joy of life. When his time came, he was ready and he passed graciously from this world into the next, eager and excited to start his next new adventure.
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