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October 21, 1929 - November 22, 2016
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Eleanor Ann Thornberry Sanders
October 21, 1929 – November 22, 2016
Eleanor Ann Thornberry was born into the loving household of Marshall and Lola Williams Thornberry in Hotchkiss, Colorado on October 21, 1929. Being the seventh child of this union, she was loved and adored by sister Leona, brother Harold (“Pete”), brother Myrvill (“Merv”), sisters Bernelda (“Bernie”), Willetta (“Billie”) and Nadine. In later years she would admit that she was quite spoiled by her parents and siblings, and she loved them equally. Times were tough during those Depression Era years, but the family got by through hard work, determination, and lots of love.
Eleanor went to school in Hotchkiss and graduated from Hotchkiss High School in 1947. After graduation, she took a job as a soda clerk in a local drug store there. One day a construction crew came in for a work break. One of the crew was a young man named David Sanders. The story goes that she made incorrect change for his Coke, and he of course had to bring this to her attention. From this simple interaction, a more complex and deep relationship developed over time, and they were united in Holy Matrimony on February 20, 1949 in Hotchkiss. True to Eleanor’s humble tastes and upbringing, this was a small and simple affair, with sister Willetta and brother-in-law Neil Clay standing as Maid of Honor and Best Man. This marriage was to last 67 years.
In 1950, daughter Rebecca was born to the young couple while they were living in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. David was transferred overseas during the Korean conflict but came home safe and sound, after which he obtained employment in Uravan, Colorado. There the family remained for the next 19 years. Becky was joined by brother Grant (1954), sister Mardell (1956), and brothers Glenn (1958) and John (1959); all born in Uravan.
When it became apparent that this last born child presented special needs and challenges, Eleanor took up the calling with characteristic strength and determination. She taught her young family that God had given them a unique gift, and that the family was very special to have been given this opportunity. Though over the years she shed many tears of frustration and sadness, there were an even greater amount of tears of joy and happiness, in each small and large success. Eleanor more than excelled in her God-given charge, and above all there was love, patience, compassion; and lots of joy and laughter. And that’s how Eleanor approached life.
In 1974, when David took up employment in Arvada, Colorado, Eleanor naturally followed him there. She enjoyed working as a waitress during those years at Jenny’s Pizzeria in Wheatridge, Colorado. Eventually David and Eleanor and John moved to Casper, Wyoming and for years Eleanor volunteered many hours of her time working as a “Pink Lady” in Natrona County Hospital.
In 1988, David and Eleanor retired and relocated to Montrose, Colorado where they spent their remaining years enjoying watching their family grow, and continuing to care for and nurture their much loved youngest son. Eleanor volunteered her time on the Board of Directors for Community Options from 1989 to 1992. She also served on the Human Rights Committee and volunteered with the Senior Program for many years. She listed her special interests during this time as “crossword puzzles, cooking, children and grandchildren”.
On June 30, 2016, David was called to his Eternal Home, and on November 22, 2016, Eleanor once again followed him, for one last time.
Eleanor was the last surviving member of the Marshall and Lola Thornberry family. She leaves behind, and will be much missed, by her five children: Rebecca (William) Hubbard, Loma, Colorado; Grant (Shirley), Louisville, Colorado; Mardell (Bob) Sutherland, Nucla, Colorado; Glenn (Anne), Larkspur, Colorado; and John, Montrose; 9 grandchildren; and 9 great-grandchildren. She loved and was much loved by numerous nieces and nephews; many cousins and other extended family, and uncounted friends, old and new.
The family would like to express their extreme gratitude to the individuals of Montrose Hospice Care and to Colorow Care Center of Olathe, Colorado. A Funeral Service in celebration of Eleanor’s life was held on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at the Delta United Methodist Church, and followed by a reception. Interment was held at Grand View Cemetery, west of Montrose. Crippin Funeral Home & Crematory in Montrose was assisting the family.