Sunday Q&A: Jill Thorne, retired

<p>Jill Thorne</p>

What do your friends call you?



How old are you?



Where do you live?

On a wheat ranch, north of Pendleton, that was homesteaded by the Thorne family.


Where did you go to school?

Olympia High School and Washington State University.


What do you do?

I am retired so what I am now doing is volunteering in the community.


What’s the best thing about your work?

I have been blessed with a rather rich career so I will cover what were the best things about my careers. I was a legal investigator for 12 years at a Pendleton law office. I liked the mystery. I was Mike’s campaign chairman all four times that he ran for the State Senate and then assisted him in his Senate office. I really enjoyed politics. I was on Gov. Neil Goldschmidt’s senior staff for four years. That was exciting because I was his liaison for the 18 counties east of the mountains and traveled and learned a great deal about this marvelous state of Oregon. My focus was on rural economic development and assisted the counties with their rural economic development strategies. I also organized all of the Governor’s trips to those counties and did the advance work. After leaving the Governor’s office I chaired the Oregon Trail Coordinating Council that was responsible for the Sesquicentennial of the Oregon Trail. The Council was responsible for the celebration but also for working with the other seven trail states, organizing all 36 counties in Oregon, raising the funds, coordinating the construction of the four interpretive centers, trail interpretation at Oregon’s rest stops and much much more. When the celebration was complete I started a consulting business focusing on rural issues and contract work on statewide ballot measures. The best part of all this work, besides the variety, was I was actually able to accomplish something that was a lasting benefit to Oregon communities.


Who is the historical figure you most admire?

President John F. Kennedy. He was elected before I could vote but he was an inspiration in my formative years and helped guide my career choices. His famous statement of “ask not what your county can do for you but what you can do for your county” helped me in those choices. His book “Profiles in Courage” gave many examples of individuals standing up for democratic principles even when it is not easy or popular.


The living person you most admire?

I think I will change person to persons in this question. It is my immediate family. Mike and I have been successful in our public/professional careers but I feel we have also been successful with our children and grandchildren. I admire how our children have been successful in their marriages and careers, and now I am blessed to be able to share in our three granddaughters’ lives. I admire what they are accomplishing in their school careers, their athletic careers and in their personal development.


What is your proudest accomplishment?

Coming back to Pendleton and being involved as a volunteer for my community. I have been involved in Pendleton’s Urban Renewal since 2005 and have assisted with many of those projects. I was also involved with the Centennial Plaza at the Round-Up Grounds. We, along with another couple, have restored two buildings downtown to enhance the historic district. The skills and experiences from my careers all came together for my volunteer work.


What is the most difficult challenge in your life these days?

Trying to define “retired.” As you proceed through the different stages of your life there are adjustments and I guess I’m having a hard time adjusting to “retired.”


What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with family, antique, refinish furniture, swim, exercise, cook, read, travel and I have just started doing genealogy. I spend a lot of time on the Internet trying to piece together the mysteries of the family ancestors. I was able to know all of my grandparents and also Mike’s. The one thing they had in common is that they didn’t talk about their parents or grandparents. I don’t know why, I think it was a common trait for that age group. Through the Internet I am finding out many great stories. Many came in the 1600s. Many were Involved in the Revolutionary War, the French Indian War and the Civil War. Many were involved in the early formation of the nation’s government.


What type of electronic equipment do you carry around with you?



If you had to live in another country for a year, where would you go?

I have been able to travel a great deal in my life and I guess I’m pretty happy here in Oregon. I do like getting out of here in the winter, follow the sun!!!


If you could change one thing in your community, what would that be?

The community concept of “downtown.” When you travel and see communities that have no downtown, just shopping center after shopping center, you can appreciate what Pendleton has. We have a downtown where you can gather. We have a downtown that has a unique history. We have a downtown that has an identity. You can close your eyes and open them and you know where you are. Close your eyes in a shopping center and open them and you could be in Salem, Gresham, Beaverton or Eugene. They are all the same. We need our community to support our downtown!!!


What is at the top of your bucket list?

Travel the east coast and the south in search of my ancestors and their histories.


What is your favorite beverage?

I drink lots of water and in the evening I have been known to add something to it.


Tell us about the best book you’ve read lately

I have been on a real history kick lately. I am trying to put historical events into my genealogy so I know more about the ancestors than when they were born and when they died. What were their experiences? Why did they move? Two books by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton have been helpful. “The Dominion of War” and “The War that Made America.” I would especially recommend “The War that Made America” — it is the history of the French Indian War and covers not just the war but the economy of the times and the colonization of the eastern part of our nation.


Your most prized possession?

I don’t think I have one. However, my dishwasher went out the other day and I didn’t like having to wash dishes by hand so maybe I prize my new dishwasher.


What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

I can’t think of one thing. I have a pretty good sense of humor so sometimes it is what I do to others.


What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Reading a book by a swimming pool in the sun.


What’s the one question we didn’t ask that you’d like to answer?

Can’t think of any.

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