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Thorne, Bruce (1905-2007) | Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections

Name: Thorne, Bruce (1905-2007)

Historical Note:

According to this, his own account (p. 2), Thorne was born December 1, 1905 in a home his parents had built in Winnetka, Illinois.  The Chicago Tribune obituary of Friday, June 1, 2007, says he was born in Lake Forest.  His parents were George Arthur Thorne, one of four sons of George R. Thorne, co-founder of Montgomery Ward (the first mail-order house, "ahead of" Sears), and Louise Ehrman Thorne, daughter of successful Cincinnati, Ohio attorney Benjamin H. Ehrman.

Thorne grew up in Winnetka, the youngest of six children.  In the city living on Shiller street and at 1130 N. Lake Shore Drive, Thorne attended the Latin School.  At fourteen he went to boarding school, the Hill School, 1920-24, and then on to Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, graduating in 1928.  he took a year to explore then, 1928, and led the Thorne-Graves exploring expedition to the Arctic that year, finding walruses for the Field Museum, with European travel in 1929. In 1930 he settled down and married Marianne Stevenson that October, at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, with Dr. James G. K. McClure officiating.

Three generations of Bruce Thorne's family (also parents and children) summered or annually touched base at the Huron Mountain Club, on Lake Superior in the upper peninsula of Michigan (Bruce in 1955 buying Victor Elting's cottage, after renting previously).  They tended to visit many locales summers, from Lake Placid, to Colorado, California's Bohemian Grove, etc.  The Bruce Thornes' later travels included friends such as the Solomon B. Smiths, the Calvin Trowbridges, the Donald McLennans, the Newell Childs, and the John Bents, all of Lake Forest. The accounts of these often international travels (Greece, 1966; Caribbean, 1968; eastern Canada, 1969; Germany and Austria, 1970; Ireland and Scotland, 1972; Mexico and the Adriatic, 1974; Scandinavia, 1980; Japan and France, 1981; Africa, 1983; 1984, England and Scotland; etc.) track with other accounts in the collection of accessible travel for upper North Shore locals with resources between the beginning of commercial jet travel in the late 1950s and 1990.     

Thorne pursued various business activities in the 1930s, and after Naval service in World War II, started with friends an investment company in Chicago, and joined William Blair & Co. in 1954, finally retiring from there in 1974.

Mrs. Thorne died in 1999 after the couple lived together in Lake Forest on Westleigh (625 West Westleigh, just west of Ridge Road; Victor Elting, architect, 1930s) and Sheridan (1150 North Sheridan, purchased 1979) roads.  They raised two daughters there, Elizabeth Pyott and Shiela, and two sons, Bruce, Jr. (d. 1978) and George A. (1948-1973). Bruce Thorne moved into the 1998-opened Lake Forest Place, near Waukegan Road in town, where he lived an active life for the next several years always surrounded by friends of long-standing, such as Rosemary D. Hale.


Bradbury, Katherine McLennan, in an electronic (Facebook) communication, April 21, 2013.

"Debutant is Betrothed," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 1, 1930, 15.

Jensen, Trevor, "Bruce Thorne: 1905-2007 - Joined '29 Arctic expedition - Chicago investment banker...," Chicago Tribune, June 1, 2007.

"Science and Tragedy in the Arctic," Popular Science Monthly (December 1929), 38-39.

Thalia _____, "Miss Stevenson Becomes Bride of Bruce Thorne," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 3, 1930, 23.

Note Author: Arthur H. Miller, amiller@lakeforest.edu; 847-735-5064.

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