NAUGATUCK — Richard David (Rick) Thornton, 65, of Naugatuck, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 in the arms of his beloved wife Susan Ruggeri-Thornton.
Rick was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. on May 19, 1950. He graduated from Wappingers Central High School in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. where he lettered in track and cross country; State University of New York in Albany with a bachelor’s degree in biology and Rivier College in Nashua, N.H. with a master’s degree in business administration. He was a U.S. Navy corpsman during the Vietnam era, stationed in Sicily Italy and at the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory in Groton. While in Groton, he co-authored a publication of Environmental Physiology Studies.
Rick was employed by Dallas, Texas-based Global Focus Marketing & Distribution LTD. He came to the company as territory manager of the New England area. Rick’s tireless determination, unmatched passion and enthusiasm resulted in his being named top sales person of the year three years in a row after which he was promoted to eastern regional sales manager where he led his region to excel every year. He was awarded the Triathlon Award in 2009 and the Ironman Award in 2015. Rick served as vice president and national sales manager for the past several years. He excelled at sharing his vast knowledge and experience with others by authoring training programs and creating learning tools. Everyone who had the opportunity to work with Rick will remember his high energy level and expertise in the medical diagnostic business.
Rick was a Third Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Naugatuck. He was active in his community and in local politics. Many called upon him for his political campaign acumen. Rick always stepped up to help others and frequently donated to various charities. He never walked past the local children asking for donations outside the local grocery store without discussing their cause with them and making a generous donation. Rick was a lover of all things jazz and theatrical. His and Susan’s favorite summer getaway was the Montreal Jazz Festival each year.
Besides his wife Susan, Rick is survived by his loving daughters, Christine and Melissa Thornton of Middletown and Stephanie and her husband Josh of New Jersey. He loved and adored his grandchildren, Kadin Eason and Baxter and Ivy Bryant. He leaves his brothers, Thomas and wife, Sheree, Thornton of Daphne, Ala. and Stephen Thornton of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; sister, Lynda Millet and husband, Gary, of Texarkana, Texas; beloved stepmother, Sara Thornton of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and several cousins, nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his father, Richard H. Thornton and brother, James Thornton.
The family would like to thank Dr. Joseph Bowen and his staff of the Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center and the staff of St Mary’s Vitas for the compassionate care that they provided.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., Naugatuck. Family and friends are asked to please meet directly at the church. Rick’s ashes will be buried at sea in accordance with his wishes. There are no calling hours. The Prospect Memorial Funeral Home, 72 Waterbury Road, Prospect is in charge of arrangements.
To honor Rick’s memory, donations may be made to the Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center, 1075 Chase Parkway Suite A, Waterbury, CT 06708.
To place online condolences, visit www.prospectmemorial.com.