Donald R. Thorpe

donald r thorpe

American FlagDonald R. Thorpe, age 84, retired business man and entrepreneur; peacefully slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God on December 11, 2014. A loving husband, father, brother, friend and family man, he will be dearly missed by all those whose lives he touched. He served his country in the United States Air Force for five years, 1 month and 23 days. A skilled and decorated pilot, his final mission as a first Lieutenant during the Korean War was the training of the Republic of Korea pilots to operate the multi-engine C-46 cargo plane. Upon his graduation from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1957 he embarked upon a career in the transportation industry. Eventually he established his own business which he successfully operated from 1972 until his retirement in 1998. A man of exceptional voice, he helped the West Town’s Barbershop Chorus achieve the first place International standing in 1987. He is preceded in death by his father Raymond, mother Fern and beloved brother Richard (Karen).

He leaves his survivors, Marcia Waterman Thorpe, devoted wife of 59 years; brothers David (Phyllis) and Jeffrey (Pearl); sisters Carol and Barbara (Steve); sons Stephen (Andrea) of Wichita, Kansas and Donald (Jackie) of Valparaiso, Indiana and daughter Laurel (Tom) of St. Louis, Missouri, to bear the sorrow of his loss. Survivors also include grandsons Andrew and Justin and granddaughters Amanda (Jared) Taylor, Katherine and Sarah and multiple nieces and nephews.

Lying in State, Monday, December 15, 2014, 3 P.M. to 9 P.M. at St. Luke’s Orthodox Church, 10700 South Kean Avenue, Palos Hills, IL 60465. Service 7 P.M. Lying in State Tuesday, December 16, 2014 from 10:00 A.M. to Time of Service 10:30 A.M. at St. Luke’s Orthodox Church. Interment Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials appreciated to: St. Luke’s Orthodox Church, 10700 South Kean Avenue, Palos Hills, IL 60465 or Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675. Arrangements by, Hitzeman Funeral Home Ltd., 9445 West 31st Street, Brookfield, Il 60513. Information 708-485-2000 or

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Messages of Condolence

  1. David A.Thorpe condolence:

    Don Thorpe was an active Christian his entire life. He demonstrated extraordinary intelligence and Character as early as Grammar School. He displayed and demonstrated maturity and judgement well beyond his years his entire life.
    He practiced total honesty and integrity in every thing he participated in.
    He was a perfect role model for every member of his very extended Family.
    He will always be thought of and remembered as a Hero.
    A perfect example of what a real American is.
    He will live on as long as there is ever a Thorpe.

  2. Natalie Anne Thorpe condolence:

    My Uncle Don was a larger than life Hero and a great role model for leadership and success. I remember him to be always confident in himself and loving of his family. When I was little, I remembered being briefly terrified of his presence as he was an imposing figure of a man but quickly realized his warmth when he would wrap you in a great hug and make you feel important. While I didn’t get much time with him later in life, my memories of him have left an imprint on my heart and soul. Truly a self made man who lived the American dream and raised a great family. Sweet dreams Uncle Don.

  3. Logan and Dorothy Wharton condolence:

    Don was one of our long time friends — mine since high school. Warm and loving and always fun to be with. He lived an impressive life and will be missed by so many family members and friends. We send sincere sympathy. He lives in the memories of all of us whose lives he touched.

  4. Karen Verderber condolence:

    How blessed I was to be a Church greeter at
    St. Luke Church when Don and Marcia walked
    in. Although I’ve only known this sweet couple for
    a short time I feel that they have been part of
    my family for decades. Don was a very intelligent,
    interesting and caring man who didn’t waste a
    moment of his long life using all his God given
    talents to bring out the very best in all who knew
    him. I for one am better for knowing both Don
    and Marcia .
    Memory Eternal!!

  5. Johanna Thorpe Hendries condolence:

    As a small child, I was a little intimidated by my Uncle Don because of his stature, mustache, and loud laugh. He quickly diminished my intimidation with one of his huge hugs, big smiles, and warmth. It also helped that the tone of his voice resembled my grandmother’s, his mother, Fern Thorpe; he also shared her raspy laugh. My favorite memories of him are remembering him with his siblings sharing in laughter, while always trying to one up each other with a funny comment. I can only imagine the dinner table in the Thorpe home during their younger years.There is no doubt in my mind that Uncle Don is sharing that same joy and laughter with his family in heaven right now. As an adult, I will also remember my Uncle Don for his intellect and humble nature. He never boasted about the many accomplishments noted above or his service to our country. He simply lived his life with honor, character, and commitment. My sincere condolences to Aunt Marcia, Steve, Don, Laurie, and their children, as well as his siblings, Aunt Carol, Aunt Barbara, Uncle Jeff, and my father, David Thorpe. What a blessing he has been to all of us and how he will be missed! May the memory of his warmth, kindness, intellect, wit, and laughter carry us until we meet up with him again. Thank you, God, for blessing us all with the time we shared with him.

  6. Betty Edson Chapleski condolence:

    Don was a fine man, generous and with a keen sense of humor. I will always remember singing at his wedding to Marcia, my very good long-time friend. She is a strong woman, who personifies the role of ‘caregiver’ like a true angel. I’m sure Marcia and his wonderful family eased his last days and helped him on his way. My deepest sympathies to Marcia and all the family.
    Betty Edson Chapleski

  7. Leslie Thorpe Riasanovsky condolence:

    I am very saddened by the passing of Uncle Don, even though I believe he is in a better place. He was a man of great intelligence, integrity, and kindness. I particularly admired both his and my Aunt Marcia’s devotion to his mother (my grandmother) in her later years. My heart goes out to Aunt Marcia, Steve, Donny, Laurie, and their respective wives and children, as well as to my Aunt Carol, Aunt Barbara, Uncle Jeff, and my father. May God grant you comfort in this difficult time.

    Love, Leslie

  8. Sue Alley condolence:

    My Symphahy, Love, and Prayers are sent to you, Marcia and to your family. Pat Ifft just told me about Don’s passing, and I am truly sorry.

    Love you and miss you,
    Sue Alley

  9. Nathan Hadwen condolence:

    I would second everything all have said to this time and also express my deepest condolences to the entire family for their great loss of Don, a family and neighborhood hero. He was so loved. I remember coming home from work on Catherine in LaGrange the day of his 50th birthday amazed that someone (probably Stephen and Donny) managed to hang a huge surprise banner across the street from the highest oaks that once graced our block–as if there would be a PARADE! I only mention it because I have never seen anything so impossible or thoughtful–which I am sure melted his heart but good…Irony exists tonight as I receive the word of his passing during the Hawks game, which he would probably be watching in heaven with us still. As a witness to his generosity and care for others, many things come to mind. He was a little league coach and wanted the best for his kids, and sometimes I let him adopt me away to a game at the stadium with the boys. I watched the great Gretzky skate only because of him…and he loaned me his Leika camera to practice with if I promised to get him a print of #99, which I did, unhappily showing the moment he scored a goal on Tony Esposito that night. But he was always about aspirations and goals and the art of the possible. I have emulated his patience and time sharing often in my own life. And once my oldest daughter lost her voice to a stroke, the first thing she wrote with a shaky hand: “Dad is encouraging.” I was relieved she was aware and I thought I was blessed to have such good teachers like Mr. & Mrs. Thorpe.

  10. Bill and Sharon Isaacs condolence:

    We send our condolences to Marcia and family. We missed Don earlier since he was part of the Starlight family in Florida and was missed when they left. Our prayers are with you all.

    Sharon and Bill Isaacs

  11. Greg Lyne condolence:

    Don Thorpe was a gentleman of the highest echelon. Always quick to smile, forever welcoming, one just felt good about being in his presence. He and Marcia were such a devoted and handsome couple. I will always hold a deep place in my heart for Don. It’s true that he did sing a bass line that contributed greatly to the success of our winning West Towns Chorus. God bless you, Don.

  12. Hank Knaack Jr. condolence:

    I met Don over 40 years ago. We were both members of the West Towns Barbershop Chorus, and we shared the stage together when we won the coveted gold medal in 1987. Over these past 40 years Don & Marcia were very special friends. They always opened their home and hearts. Don was a very Christian man and exhibited that whenever we were together as a twosome or in a group. We played golf together and always were able to share a beer or two afterward. We also shared business opportunities as I was able to suggest some components for use on his tank trailer fleet. He was a shrewd business man, and knew what he was doing in his business. Don will be sorely missed and the fond memories will never fade. God bless you, my friend and thank you for your friendship. Jeanette and I offer our deepest sympathies to Marcia and family.

  13. Suzi Ponchur condolence:

    I had the opportunity to get to know and love Don through my acquaintance with Laurel during O.T. school. Don and Marcia so graciously welcomed me into their home to reside with them during my 3 month internship. Little did I know that I would be learning much more than pediatric care during my stay in Chicago! Don introduced me to bloody Mary’s with gin instead of vodka, a new love and appreciation of barbershop quartet music, Sunday brunch at the country club where he loved to golf,
    and happy hour at home before dinner! I’ll never forget how he gave me confidence and courage to
    drive to O’Hare airport on a cold Friday night in January to pick up my future husband. Don will always hold a very special place in my heart. God Bless you Don. Your generosity and belief in me will never be forgotten. Mark and I send our deepest sympathies to Marcia, Laurie,and family.

  14. Jim Ahlgrim condolence:

    I got to know Don during the years that we sang in the Westtowns Chorus. Some years after that, I decided to join the LaGrange Country Club and needed a sponsor. Don said he would be glad to sponsor us and that is when I really got to know him. We traveled all over the United States each year to play golf with a small group of friends. He was a great guy to be with because of his sense of humor, patience and constant good nature. We all will miss Don and will never forget him.

  15. JIM FOSTER / DON CALDWELL condolence:


  16. Vickie Theobald condolence:

    Steve, Andrea, Amanda,Taylor, and all of your family, Mike and I are very sorry for your loss. God bless you and comfort you. Love you all.

  17. Ed & Pat Ifft condolence:

    Marcia and family,
    Our sincerest sympathy and prayers on the loss of your dear husband and father. The Starlight Family has missed you since you left us. Ed & Pat Ifft

  18. Edel & Kevin condolence:

    Marcia, you are in our thoughts and prayers. Our deepest sympathy to you and the Thorpe family. Edel & Kevin

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