Tribute to Gerald E. Thorne, Senior

Longtime Cordova fisherman Gerry Thorne Senior mending gear in the Cordova Small Boat Harbor. (Thorne family photo)

Born August 09, 1930; Died March 24, 2022

After all the time that has passed this could hardly be called an obituary, but rather a tribute to a really great person, husband, father, grandfather, great-grand father and friend.

Gerald Thorne Senior was husband of more than 69 years to Ina Thorne; father to Carolyn Thorne and Gerry Thorne Jr; grandfather to Erin Talaro of Anchorage, Alaska, Amy Daniels of Big Lake, Alaska, Ryan Thorne (wife Inez) of Cordova, Alaska and Garrett Thorne of Soldotna, Alaska; and great-grandfather to Jazzlynn Talaro of Anchorage, Alaska, Zachary King and Allyson Daniels of Big Lake, Alaska, and Liam and Leanne Thorne of Cordova, Alaska.

Gerry Senior was born in Camas, Washington on August 9, 1930. He lived in Washington until he was six years old, and then moved to Cordova with his parents Charly and Marjorie Thorne. He went to school in Cordova and like so many families in those days fished with his mom and dad and dug clams with his mom. When he was 16 years old, he and his parents drove the “Alcan” highway which had just opened. Starting a new high school is hard for any teenager, so after a while, Gerry joined the Army. He was gone for four years. Upon returning he met and married his wife Ina in 1953. They bought a house in Seattle. But after four years in the Army and not too many job opportunities in Seattle, he had a hankering to get back to Alaska, where he launched a lifelong career in commercial fishing, true to the legacy of his father. After 10 years of commuting from Seattle to Cordova every spring, Gerry moved his wife and two kids to Cordova in 1963. The whole family fished and over the years became known was the “Thorne Fleet.” Digging clams, fishing for salmon, herring, crab and kelp as well as tendering became a lifestyle. Clamming ended with the 1964 Earthquake, and herring and kelp fishing ended with the 1989 Oil Spill.

The family lived in the big white house on the hill up First Street until 2004, and then became “snowbirds,” only coming to Cordova from Whidbey Island, Washington in the spring to go fishing. However, all that changed in 2012 when Gerry had a stroke, which ended his fishing career forever.Gerry most of all loved fishing and his family. He was loved by many friends (a lot who called him Grandpa.) He was a real people person and loved to tell stories of his fishing and hunting adventures in Alaska, which included a lot of cold hard truths with a bit of embellishments and a lot of humor.

This story was a long time coming as Gerry died on March 24 of this year, but grief is a hard taskmaster. It comes and goes like the tide, but it’s always there as Gerry’s memories will be in our hearts and minds forever.

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(submitted to The Cordova Times by Ina Thorne)