Ben Aaron Thornton

January 16, 1938 - November 19, 2020

Ben Aaron Thornton, 82, of Nederland, went home to be with the Lord Thursday, November 19, 2020, at Bonne Vie Skilled Nursing, Port Arthur. He was born January 16, 1938, in Kountze, to Eva Barrington Thornton and Virgil Alvin Thornton. He was United States Army veteran.

Ben graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur where he played on the football and basketball teams. He served in the United States Army during the Cuban turmoil after high school. Ben retired as a Lab Technician at Texaco Research in 1994.

He will be remembered by his family and friends as a loving family man and by his neighbors as the neighborhood patrol man. He was known for his love of the outdoors. His life was filled with many accomplishments. When Jefferson City Shopping Center opened, he even set a world record for the amount of time he was able to stay underwater.

Ben loved all sports an enjoyed playing basketball with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also enjoyed playing golf with Heath and his friends whom he lovingly called “The Boys”.

He is survived by his wife of fifty-four years, Shirley Willey Thornton; daughter, Debra Orta and husband, Xavier; grandchildren, Heath Thornton and wife, Shawna; Jason Strickland; and Emilio Orta; great-grandchildren, Rylynn and Tristan Thornton; Julian Orta and mother, Brittany Bledsoe; and Xavian Orta; brother, Sam Thornton and wife, Inez; sister-in-law, Betty James; his dog and best friend, “Lady”; and many extended family members and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Eva and Virgil Thornton; daughter, Tracy Smith; and grandson, Lance Orta.

A gathering of Mr. Thornton’s family and friends will begin at 1:00 p.m., with his funeral service at 2:00 p.m., Monday, November 23, 2020, at Broussard’s, 505 North 12th Street, Nederland. His interment will follow at Memory Gardens of Jefferson County, Nederland.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 700 North Street, Suite M, Beaumont, Texas 77701; or to The Humane Society of Southeast Texas, P.O. Box 1629, Beaumont, Texas 77704.

Please observe social distancing guidelines. By attending any public event you are acknowledging the risk of exposure to the Coronavirus. Please follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control:


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Memory Gardens of Jefferson County, Nederland

Memory Gardens of Jefferson County, Nederland
  • 3098 u.s. 69 access rd nederland tx 77627

Funeral Service

Funeral Service
  • 505 n 12th street nederland tx 77627
  • 11/23/2020
  • 2:00 pm

Gathering of Family and Friends

Gathering of Family and Friends
  • 505 n 12th street nederland tx 77627
  • 11/23/2020
  • 7:18 am

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Nancy Landry

A Cropo's Barber Shop boy forever and in my heart forever REST IN PEACE GENTLE BEN

Patty Bonnette

Loved Ben's sense of humor! Our family has one more star in heaven.

Alfred Ellsworth

A good friend for over 50 years. Always willing to help any one. Shirley was the perfect wife for Ben and his family & friend s.

Danny Williams/Donna Lewis

So sorry to hear of the passing of Ben. We were classmates at Thomas Jefferson and played sports together and ;later in life we played a little golf together. Ben was a very niice and attentive person with a great smile and wonderful laugh. It was my honor to have known him and count him as a friend. May he rest in the arms and grace of God

gene jones

I was there like many others when Ben set the underwater record in a tank in the parking lot at Jefferson City Shopping Center. H e played golf regularly with the 8am golf group at Zaharias Golf Course. Used to see him all the time but have not seen him recently and i was unaware that he was sick. Hate to hear this. He was a great guy with a great attitude. I was in his graduating class of 1956 . He will be missed. Rest in peace, Ben

Roy S. Martinez

So sorry to hear about Ben leaving us. He was a good friend, person, athlete. I graduated with Ben in 1956, played Basketball and some golf with Ben, he was always pleasant, thoughtful and a good sport. I'm sure the good lord will welcome Ben with open arms. Bless you Shirley and may the lord be with you.

Lee & Linda Sims

We are so sorry to hear about Ben's passing. Our prayers are for his family,

Kent and Marla DeCoux

So sorry for your loss. Mr. Thornton will be greatly missed in our neighborhood. We will miss him patrolling and our dogs are going to especially miss him and his special treats. Ms. Shirley you and your family will be in our prayers.

Cliff Cawley

I will miss Ben. I was a neighbor to Ben and Shirley. I met Ben about 4 years ago while doing my daily walks. "The early bird gets the worm"...often this was his greeting as I was out early and Ben was on his golf cart cleaning the streets from trash and cans. He was so proud of his grandkids. Always bragging on them. I asked how he married up in getting a beautiful wife in Shirley. He would laugh and tell me stories. Sometimes about his military experiences, his diving, running, and golf, and of course his family. As I walked this morning I missed Ben. The ducks will miss Ben .....and the canal....and his neighbors.....and his friends....and his family. Shirley, your a beautiful women....stay strong...Ben loved you so much.

Bill and Rene Fitzgerald

Goodbye to a Good Man! Our condolences to Shirley and all his family!

Linda Parish

Ben, our handsome, gentle giant, will be sorely missed. Shirley, we share so many memories, and they are flooding my mind. What good times we all had together. Ben will never be forgotten. With much love, Linda Parish