Decathlete Tom Thorne dies at 74; Kansas, Missouri coach, pastor

The Rev. Thomas “Tom” Thorne

Masters decathletes and others are mourning the passing of the Rev. Thomas “Tom” Thorne, 74, who died Sept. 9 in Joplin, Missouri, the city of his birth. According to, he last competed in 2011. Obituaries say he died at Freeman West Hospital following a short illness. “He spent his life serving others through the church, public education, sports and community service,” said one obit. “He has taught in Chanute, Lawrence and Eureka, Kansas, before returning to Neosho in 1981. He then taught in the East Newton School system, owned and operated the Coaches Locker Sporting Goods Store in Neosho; worked for the Newton County Juvenile Department and coached in area schools, including Carthage and most recently, Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School. He was ordained as pastor of the First Congregational Church in 1985, where he currently served. He was a recipient of the Neosho Exchange Club Golden Deeds award and he was an accomplished Master decathalete, competing both nationally and internationally.” Memorial services are 10 a.m. Saturday at the Calvary Baptist Church in Neosho.

Tom (left) was M50 silver medalist at the 1995 masters national decathlon meet behind Al Phillips (center) and ahead of Joe Johnson (right).

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September 13, 2017

3 Responses

  1. Stefan Waltermann - September 13, 2017

    Tom was our team leader at the US vs UK meet during the 2012 Olympic Games in Oxford, England. . We had a little spiritual get-together at the start of the second day of competition. Tom lead into a few traditional church hymns with a surprisingly large number of our English friends joining in. He then sang Amazing Grace in Cherokee; I’ll never forget it
    Tom was a someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible and decorous. Tom was a Mensch; he will be missed.

  2. christel donley - September 14, 2017

    Stefan, you wrote “my script” I remember so much about Tom and his wonderful way of treating and uniting athletes. Treating us to a party at his home after the competition – and everybody came!.
    BUT MOST OF ALL: we all sang :Amazing Grace in English and he followed it with the “Cherokee version” I can see and hear him!
    To Patty, our deepest sympathy, and for Tom: “Rest in peace”y! YOU truly contributed to our lives in the most gratifying way!!

  3. Tom Phillips - September 15, 2017

    Thanks for that, Stefan. It was quite an occasion, eh?.Somewhere, I have a few photos.

    I met Tom Thorne twice. He was a great guy. Even just meeting him those two times left a lasting impression on me. My sympathies go to all of those close to him, for their sad loss.


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