November 19, 1937 – March 8, 2017
Dr. Milo Lancaster Thornberry passed away peacefully on March 8, 2017, at the age of 79, in Bend, OR. He was surrounded by family and embraced with loving arms at the time of his death.
He is survived by his wife, Connie Meugniot Thornberry of Bend; his children, Elizabeth Wayne Thornberry Maher of Granville, OH; Richard Lancaster Thornberry of New York City, NY; Katy Thornberry NcNulty of Atlanta, GA; grandchildren, Sean Milo Maher and Cassidy Wayne Maher; sister, Cynthia Ann Thornberry Richmond. His wife’s children, Wendi Lee Steele and Mark Lance Smith; grandchildren, Joshua Coburn Steele and Katie Rochell Smith.
Milo was born November 19, 1937, in Breckenridge, TX. He grew up on his family’s ranch outside of Clarendon, Hedley, then Wichita Falls. He received his pastoral license from the United Methodist Church at the age of 17. Milo received his B.A. in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University in 1959, his Master’s of Sacred Theology from Perkins School of Theology at SMU in 1962, and his Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Boston University School of Theology in 1974.
Milo served as a United Methodist Missionary to Taiwan from 1965-1971. He was assigned to teach Church history at Taiwan Theological College and Seminary. He became involved in human rights efforts during the era of Chiang Kai Sheik’s White Terror (1949-1987). Milo worked with political dissidents, including work with Amnesty International, the American Friends Service Committee, and most notably, included the planning and execution of the successful escape of former political prisoner and democracy activist, Dr. Peng Ming-Min. Milo and his family were deported back to the U.S. in 1971. Fireproof Moth: A Missionary in Taiwan’s White Terror was published by Sunbury Press in 2010. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the Taiwan Theological College and Seminary.
From 1977-1992, Milo resided in Atlanta, GA, where he served as the Director of Alternatives, a non-profit organization that promoted simple living, and later taught at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
In 1992, Milo was appointed to Juneau, AK, as pastor to Aldersgate United Methodist Church; in 1996, First United Methodist Church, Fairbanks, AK. He was appointed to First United Methodist Church in Bend, from 2001 until 2005, when he retired.
In retirement, he helped found High Desert Village in 2009. He wrote and blogged about current political and theological matters, began an unpublished novel, – Not Yet What We Shall Be in 2005. He also came out of retirement in 2007, for a temporary appointment to Chugiak United Methodist Church in Alaska.
Fishing was his favorite pastime. Travel, writing, wood working, photography were his hobbies, and the kinds of music that were his favorite were hymns, country, and opera. Never being one to take himself too seriously, he was quick with a joke, but he would start laughing toward the end of telling, everyone else as well, then the punchline. Milo was a kind and loving man for God, his family and friends.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Bend United Methodist Church, 680 NW Bond St., Bend, OR 97701. The service will be followed by fellowship to exchange stories, photos, and memories of Milo. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and to Partners In Care of Bend, OR.
Partners In Care http://www.partnersbend.org/get-involved/donate-to-bend-hospice/