In Memoriam

Timothy R. Thornton

1955 - 2019

Thornton, Timothy R. suddenly, June 23, 2019. Adored husband of 36 years of Teresa (Terry) Luth Thornton. Beloved father to Patrick (Emily), Dr. Katie (Brenden Bruss), Meaghan (Bryan Rogers) and Pop Pop to Grace Elizabeth. Brother, uncle, brother-in-law, son and son-inlaw, so many loved you. You always said that you wanted to be remembered as a man who always thought of others first, and himself, second. That you were. Beautiful tributes have been coming in from around the country. What a dynamo you were. When we met, you were a man smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Nine years later, you quit cold turkey and started running. A year later you ran your first of many marathons, including Boston four times, and achieved a PR of 3.02. When the joints started hurting, you applied that same tenacity to cycling, with the Tour de France being one of the highlights of your year. In peak season, you could ride 100 miles in a day and climb up to 5000 feet. Your legal colleagues all commented how you brought that same sense of intensity to your professional work, yet always remained generous and humble. After the Metrolink case, the Post-Dispatch interviewed you. Part of the article mentioned the complexity of the case and the number of attorneys involved. As traffic director for the case you were quoted as saying everyone involved left their ego at the door to work the case. That humility was you in a nutshell. As your wife, I am so grateful for the time God gave us together. Not many couples who set their wedding date five weeks after their first date survive over the long run, but we beat the odds. Working through our own issues through the years, together we learned when your marriage hits a fork in the road and you need to decide to cut-and-run or work through it, if you can work through it, a long-time love relationship can be one of the most exquisite blessings on this side of eternity. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. Among the millions of things about you that I will miss would include how you made me laugh, the twinkle in your eye, our dinners together, Friday night dates, discussing politics and mostly gently kissing you at the end of the day telling you how grateful I was that you chose me. You felt the same. Services: A Gathering of friends and family will be Sun., June 30, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Buchholz Mortuary West, 2211 Clarkson Rd. (at Wilson Rd.). A Celebration of Tim’s Life will be Mon., July 1, 10 a.m. at St. Anselm at the Abbey, 530 S. Mason Rd, St. Louis, MO 63141. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Tim’s name to Gateway Greening in St. Louis, or to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Member Tributes

Dear Terry Thornton:  Early in the morning of June 24, Terry Brookie sent an email to the College List Serve, advising the Fellows of Tim’s tragic accident:

It is with deep sadness that I inform you Tim Thornton was involved in a fatal bike accident on Sunday afternoon. Tim will be greatly missed. We have limited information at this time. We will share more information as it becomes available. – Terry Brookie

Throughout the day, Fellows from across the country responded with varying degrees of explication of their shock and sense of loss, as well as their respect and love for Tim.  This document is a compilation of those remarks, in the order they were received.

- John R. Heisse

Oh my, this is the most shocking news. I am devastated by this.

- Thomas Rosenberg

Terry, thanks for this sad news. Know this is awful for family, friends and law associates.

- Nick Gaede

Truly sad news and a real tragedy. My thoughts and prayers especially to his family.

- Fielder Martin

I first met Tim when he and his firm represented two subcontractors on a VA hospital project in St. Louis. This is truly sad news and a real loss to the construction bar.

- Thomas Kelleher

Like other College fellows, I am shocked and pained to learn of Tim’s death.  Like his mentor, Jim Hawkins, Tim was the epitome of class and professionalism.  We will all miss Tim very much.

- Gerald Kirksey

Tim was a very good friend and the best lawyer I’ve ever worked with. I am heartbroken. Please pray for his family and all those who loved him.

- James Scott

This breaks my heart. I first met Tim many, many years ago at an ABA Forum event in San Francisco but had not really spent any time with him in more than a decade. Then I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Tim and his wife when the ACCL Board met in Quebec last year.

Tim’s passing is a true loss to the College. My prayers and sympathies go out to his family. They must be devastated.

- Robyn Miller

Tim Thornton is someone I have known for years and I thoroughly liked him as a person and friend as well as a good, solid lawyer. What a shame.

- Larry Schor

I join everyone else who is shocked and saddened by this news. I can picture Tim and have a hard time believing this.

- Howard Ashcraft

This is such a terrible tragedy. He was a wonderful person in every way and we will all miss him greatly. So very sad.

- Jenny Fletcher

Deeply saddened. A true gentleman and a fine lawyer.

- James Wulfsberg

Whoa, life is sweet, life is short, carpe diem!

Tim was co-program chair of the Forum’s Fall meeting in DC once upon a time, when I was the Governing Committee’s liaison. Tim’s co-chair had the unfortunate falling of a trial right in the middle of preparation. Without missing a beat, Tim picked up both ends and the Fall meeting went off without a hitch, making my job superfluous.

But then, why wouldn’t it have- Tim, then managing partner of his firm, caused the firm to create a video for the opening plenary, written, directed and starring Tim and his partners that was TERRIFIC ( I call him Tim Terrific).

About that time, Tim had his own trial, a long bitter one, I hear, that, according to Jim Scott obtained everything that the client desired and more. So Tim could dance, sing and chew gum at the same time.

Over time, I nominated him for Fellowship and he joined our crowd. I will miss him— active, as ever, to the very end it seems — we miss you already Tim.

- Kenneth Kupchak

I am overwhelmed with shock and sadness.  I met Tim first as an opponent in litigation and then through the Forum followed by the College. Tim was one of the nicest, smartest, best construction lawyers I have had the pleasure to know.  He had a great sense of humor and was excellent on his feet in court. I can’t wrap my head around the fact he has left us so soon.

- Joseph Kovars

I saw the news early this morning but decided to wait to respond till I could get over my shock. Time has not helped. I am still shocked, saddened and frightened that such a terrific person could be taken from us so suddenly.

- James Nagle

I am shocked.  We were working together on a presentation to the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys next month on a subject he presented to at the ACCL – the #metoo movement and the construction industry.  What a loss.

- Lorence Slutzky

This is indeed a shock.

I knew Tim as a lawyer, a person and a runner.

I was the client for whom he first chaired the longest civil jury trial in St Louis history to a complete victory.  We have all won cases but how many can say they won so handily that the opposing CEO and general counsel found themselves unemployed within a week of the verdict? Tim could say that.

All who came in contact with Tim knew him as a kind, gentle soul with a fierce competitive spirit.  Tim and I often talked about running.  I was very fortunate to compete with Tim in running the Boston Marathon – and we celebrated that night!

Tim turned more to biking in recent years but did so with the same vigor.  We lost him doing what he loved. I will miss him greatly.

- George Pierson

Fellows –

We just learned of Tim’s tragic accident a few minutes ago while traveling overseas.

I came to know Tim during his service on the Board of Governors and Membership Committee over the past couple years.  He was a valuable member of those groups and the College and contributed much to their activities and discussions.  His judgment and character were impeccable.

We shall miss him at the upcoming Denver Board meeting and long thereafter.

- David Lane

The best of lawyers but a better man.  The smile and the sincerity of the friendship are unforgettable.  His inclusion of my cousin Vinny Bastianelli in his classic video for the Forum was special to me.  My thoughts, prayers, and heart go out to Terry and the rest of his family.  It is a very sad day.

- Adrian Bastianelli

Like all of you, I was shocked when I learned of Tim’s horrific death this morning. I am honored that Tim and I are classmates in the College, having been inducted into the ACCL in 2010. Since that time, we have become good friends; and Sandy and I have enjoyed getting to know Tim’s wife, Terry, also. Over the past several years, I have learned of Tim’s keen intellect and superb knowledge of the construction industry through our working on Hot Tips together. During the past 10 years, we have even shared our faith journey with each other. Tim is as good of a person as one will ever meet. The bond which we have developed will never be broken, not even by his untimely death.

Tim’s family has been through a lot recently. He lost his younger brother (age 59) to cancer this past April. Tim has been tearing up the Missouri interstates over the past year, caring for his ailing mother. And now this tragedy…

I know that we will lock hands and arms in praying for Terry and Tim’s family. The comradery which Tim shared within the College and elsewhere will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, my brother.

- William Geisen

Dear Fellows- I am sorry for this terrible loss for the ACCL, for the Construction Law world and mainly for his family. Our prayers with all whom he loved and loved him.

- Roberto Hernandez-Garcia

Amen to Roberto’s message!

Tim was not only an outstanding lawyer but also a wonderful person with a wonderful sense of humor that will be greatly missed.

- Douglas Oles

Same. He will be missed.

- Richard Smith

I met Tim first through the Forum. But really got to know him by mediating a multiparty dispute arising from an Iowa hospital. The primary protagonists were the owner, represented by Tim, and the A/E, represented by Tom Rosenberg. All parties settled with the owner except Tom’s client. Those two went on to a hard fought trial. It is a testament to Tim’s personality and professionalism (and to Tom’s) that the two became close friends while battling hard for their clients. Tim’s his demonstration of these qualities is unsurprising to those fortunate to know him, but our loss is all the more poignant when contemplating the grief weighing especially on colleagues who knew him best.

- Buck Hinkle

I join all of you in shock and sadness in Tim’s passing.  He was always a joy to be around.

Our prayers are with Tim and his family and friends.

- Gerald Stovall

Truly a sad day. A terrible reminder to each one of us to live every day to its fullest.

My prayers are with Tim’s friends, family and loved ones. He will be missed.

- Albert Bates, Jr.

As everyone has shared, the message of Tim’s passing is one I never wanted to hear, and is a message that came far too soon.  Tim had a lightning-quick wit, a smile that lit up the room and a laugh that was contagious.  He was also the smartest person in every room, and never ever made you feel that way.  We’ve lost one of the best.  We were lucky to have been in his orbit.

- Anne Gorham

I believe I’ve had the privilege of knowing and liking Tim Thornton for four decades. He was a great person, embodying the very best of what us folks from the Midwest call Midwestern values. Like everyone else, I’ll miss him a whole lot and hope to tell his family how much he meant to me.

- Thomas Stipanowich

I think it is more than fair to say that no matter where you come from, Tim exemplified the best virtues of all places and I will sorely miss him and his mischievous smile.

- John Bulman

Agree with John. He just lit up a room. What a delight to be with. Way too early to lose someone this special.

- Joseph McManus, Jr.

Like Brother Nagle, I have been waiting to join in this commemoration, hoping I would find the words to express the impact of this news, but they are proving elusive.  I will, however, join the chorus of those noting Tim’s intellect, legal skills, integrity, decency … he embodied the best of what the College stands for.  He had the rare combination of humanity and talent – he was the kind of individual you’d want to decide a hard-fought dispute, to represent you in a bet the company case, and to marry your daughter.

My heart goes out to Terry, their family, and his colleagues – the hole in their lives that’s been created is unimaginable.

I feel so fortunate to have known him.

- John R. Heisse

Like all of you, I am shocked and terribly saddened by this sudden and terrible loss.  I will not recover from this soon.  I fondly remember the many discussions I had with Tim over the years about how much we both love to ride a bicycle.  I am trying to take some comfort in the fact that I know he was doing something that he loved.  But honestly, I’m not having much success. My warmest thoughts and condolences go out to his wonderful wife and family, and to all of his colleagues (including all of us) who will miss him so very much.

- Clifford Shapiro

My mind is spinning with emotional memories of my friend, partner & colleague, Tim Thornton. As others have expressed, it is difficult to comprehend or accept that so bright a light has been extinguished.

Tim came to Greensfelder some 38 years ago. He wanted to do Construction Law. He quickly became a “go to” kind of lawyer—taking on assignments large and small with equal diligence. As you can imagine, clients loved and appreciated both Tim and his work. The Firm and I certainly did!

Tim and I never exchanged an angry word. He was polite, responsive, very competent and a good friend. I am having a hard time—as are many of the Fellows—in dealing with the reality of this tragedy. The Greensfelder firm is in close support of Terry and Tim’s family. The outpouring of ACCL friendship and respect is greatly appreciated. Rest in peace, Tim!

- James Hawkins

As with Brother Heisse, I’m having trouble processing this tragic loss of a very good friend. The pain Terry and the family must be feeling just makes Alanna and I so profoundly sad.

I think so many of you have done such an outstanding job articulating Tim’s many wonderful qualities. I will not repeat them here but simply say I tip my cap to all of you with these wonderful tributes. A truly special person. We are lucky to have him bless our lives.

I would like to address another quality not previously mentioned.  He was a life-long Cardinals fan who loved to tease this Cubs fan. We would often text each other during and after games. We had many laughs and tears watching out teams battle it out.  Really, it is what sports is all about at the end of the day, two good friends loyal to rival teams having a good time watching a great sport. A true gentleman and sportsman. He and Terry came to Wrigley a couple years ago in full St. Louis garb with smiles on their faces. We had a wonderful time. Pic attached, during much happier days.  I will always have Tim in my thoughts whenever I’m watching a Cubs/Cards game and know that with his mischievous smile he is looking down rooting for his Cards.

Rest in peace my brother. You were a great friend, fantastic lawyer, and most importantly, simply a wonderful human being.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Terry and the family.

- Ty Laurie

It is later in the day and like many of you it has been hard to concentrate on work activities today as our minds have drawn us back to the friend we lost. I shared with the leadership of the Forum on Construction Law news of Tim’s passing and from those who knew him, received many heartfelt words of reflection as well as shock as we all experienced. I felt the need to do more so I penned a letter to the chief operating officer of Greensfelder to express condolences on behalf of myself and the Forum on Construction Law family. Tim was as you know, the managing partner of his firm having returned to the position after taking a few years off from it. I share with you one paragraph from my letter: “On a personal level Tim and I were adversaries in an arbitration in Iowa many years ago. Following that arbitration, we often spoke of this experience that proved lawyers can be adversaries but act most professional and establish a friendship that endures for many years afterwards.”

Tim and I met through that adversarial proceeding that occurred in 2004-2005. It went all the way to a 7 day hearing and an award was issued by the arbitrators. We often find in our profession that is easy to get along with counsel for a co-defendant or opposing counsel where the matter does not go all the way to trial or arbitration. But whether we like it or not, relations can be strained when a case goes all the way to trial or arbitration. Tim and I proved the opposite and I have always used that case as the best example of how professionals should act.  Since neither of us worked nor lived in Iowa there were a few occasions during the discovery process where we had dinner together. He talked so proudly of his children and wife Terry. I remember years later having dinner with Tim and the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series at the time. Every few minutes each of his children would call as they wanted to share the fun of watching the Cardinals in the World Series with their father.

We all have stories about Tim and will reflect upon them as the days go by. One other involves another piece of that arbitration in Iowa. Buck Hinkle was our mediator and for reasons I cannot remember we started the mediation in the early evening hours with the plan to go a few hours then return the next day. Buck started by asking to speak to just the lead lawyers for each side, meaning Tim and me. We went into an adjacent room and they both said the purpose of this particular conversation was not to discuss the case but to convince me to get more involved in the Forum on Construction Law. Thank you, Tim (and Buck) for doing that.

Over the years we referred work to each other and there were many times we asked each other for a “favor.” The favor usually involved a speaking engagement and he never turned me down.  The favor was always preceded by about ten minutes of good-natured kidding of one another. Tim was one of those people we all think of as most professional, smart, ethical and the go-to guy if we ever needed anything for us or our clients in St. Louis.

Tim will be missed by all of us. Our prayers go out to Terry and their children. He was a true friend to so many and I am fortunate to count myself among them. I am a better lawyer today because of Tim Thornton. Rest in peace friend.

- Thomas Rosenberg

I am trying to focus on Tim’s smile. God Bless Tim and his family.

- Robert MacPherson

I echo the pain everyone feels over this sudden loss.

- Alan Harris

Tim was nominated for Fellowship in the College with the Class of 2010. He was a “shoo-in” on the first round of balloting for the many reasons that have been remembered today. One of the privileges of Chairing the New Fellows Committee is calling the accepted nominees to congratulate them on their election to ACCL. I fondly remember my conversation with Tim—he was happy and grateful in a way that was classic Tim. I was certain that he was smiling from ear-to-ear.

What a terrible loss. Our prayers go out to Terry and his family.

- Robert Smith

The news regarding Tim’s accident came from left field, and after a day still leaves me in a state of shock and sadness. It is always difficult to understand when bad things happen to good people. Here, a terrible thing happened to a great person. I never heard a bad word about Tim, and always enjoyed our time together, whether discussing baseball, fitness or law. I just want to join the other Fellows in expressing my sorrow for the loss, my admiration for Tim and my sympathies to Tim’s family. He will not be forgotten.

- Mark Heley

Nancy and I were devastated over the news of Tim’s untimely death.  We were always inspired by Tim and Terry’s commitment to each other, their family and their faith.

You could see that sparkle in Tim’s eyes when he looked  at Terry.  They always seemed to be having great fun together.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Terry and their family.

- Ben Shapiro

Tim and I were among the group recently appointed to the ACCL Board of Governors.  I was so looking forward to serving on a board with Tim again.  We first met about twenty years ago on the Division 4 steering committee in the Forum, the group focused on project delivery systems.  True friendships are forged in those early days of service to the national bar.  The chairs in particular become close.  Tim chaired Division 4 in his turn, as did many of the College fellows who have posted reminiscences here.  We are all grateful to Terry and her family for sharing Tim with us.  And to the partners and staff at Greensfelder, my condolences; I think I can relate to the grieving going on there right now. Peace be with all of you.

- Jim Schenck

There are too many losses, too soon.  Our hearts go out to family, friends and all those many lives Tim touched.  He will be missed.

- Lynn Axelroth

From the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys (forwarded by Jim Scott):

I heard the news early this morning from a fellow construction lawyer before I started a one-week construction arbitration as the arbitrator.  Tim and I graduated together from law school at Wash U in 1980.  He was always smarter and better looking but I liked him anyway.  He has been my friend for more than 40 years.

We all know that Tim was an outstanding construction lawyer.  The real loss is that he was an even better person.

- Jim Keller (Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys)

From the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys (forwarded by Jim Scott):

I was also a classmate of Tim’s. He was in my first-year section, so he saw my harried efforts to adapt to law school.  I became re-acquainted with him when I defended a case against one of his clients in the 90’s.  For some reason, I ended up taking his deposition in that case.  If he was your opponent, he was always a gentleman; when he was a witness, absolutely credible, when I sought help or guidance from him in later years, he was always helpful.  He was a lawyer and a person of rare and positive quality and losing him is a loss to us all.

- T. Scott Leo (Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys)

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