Sky Scene 06

William Gerald Thornton, Sr

May 13, 1942 ~ September 23, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old


W. Gerald Thornton Sr. (81) departed this mortal life on September 23, 2023 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Gerald was born to William Richardson Thornton and Dora Myrle Pope on 13 May 1942 in Clinton (Sampson County), NC.  He was a hard worker and a beloved friend to many growing up in Clinton.  He worked at the Dairy Queen, the ice cream factory, and local farms.  When he was an 8th grader at Clinton Junior High, it shared a cafeteria with the high school next door.  While there, he saw for the first time a beautiful girl with a ponytail.  He would go on to befriend this girl, Katrina Crumpler, whom he later married and stayed by for over 60 years.   

Gerald was active on the debate team and was captain of the football team at Clinton High School where he graduated in 1960.  Gerald subsequently attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was active in student government.  He and Katrina were married in 1963 and they moved into a small trailer home in Chapel Hill to start their life together.  Gerald decided to follow the advice of one of his professors to become an attorney.   Gerald graduated from UNC’s law school in 1967.  He and Katrina moved to Louisville, Kentucky for four years where Gerald worked as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service and their first two children were born.  In 1970, they moved to Raleigh, NC where Gerald joined Manning, Fulton & Skinner law firm and their remaining three children were born.

Gerald became a well-respected business, tax and estate planning lawyer.  He served on the NC Bar Association Board of Governors from 1988-91 and as Chair of the Tax Section in 1982-83. He was regularly recognized as one of the top lawyers in the state of NC in publications, and he was honored to be inducted in 2022 into the NC Legal Practice Hall of Fame.  Gerald loved his profession largely because of the friendships he developed because of it.  He used to say that he doesn’t have clients or co-workers, he only has friends.

Gerald was an active member of church in his community, serving as Bishop, Stake President, Raleigh NC Mission Presidency Counselor, Raleigh NC Temple Presidency Counselor and Temple Sealer, and Stake Patriarch for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Raleigh, NC.   Through many of these service opportunities in the church he was able to touch many lives for good and help others in their life’s journey.  He was also a Hunter Safety Instructor for many years with the Wake County Wildlife Club, achieving recognition as Member of the Year in 2005 and 2006.

Gerald was a devoted husband to Katrina, loving father to Will, Todd, Heath, KoKo, and Derek, and committed friend to many.  His devotion and love to his family was only surpassed by his faith in and love for his Savior, Jesus Christ.   

Gerald is survived by his wife and best friend, Katrina, as well as five children they shared together, Will (Angela), Todd (Lori), Heath (Shannon), KoKo, and Derek (Lexia).  He is also survived by 18 grandchildren and 3 great-children.  Gerald was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Ann Wagner.

A viewing will be held for family and friends to pay their respect on Thursday, September 28, 2023, from 6 - 8 p.m. at Bright Funeral Home in Wake Forest, NC.  A funeral service will be held on Friday, September 29, 2023, at 11 a.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1524 Jenkins Road in Wake Forest, NC.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Humanitarian Fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (visit website at


September 28, 2023

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Bright Funeral Home
405 S. Main St.
Wake Forest, NC 27587

Funeral Service
September 29, 2023

11:00 AM
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
1524 Jenkins Rd.
Wake Forest, NC 27587


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