Obituary: James “Jim” Leone Thurman (1935-2024)

James “Jim” Leone Thurman, 89, of Newport, RI, passed away peacefully on January 23, 2024.

James was born in Macomb, IL on January 9, 1935, a son of the late Jay L. Thurman and Ethel (Cash) Thurman, one of two children.

He graduated from Fenger High School in Chicago, where he met Virginia L. (Ponsetti) Thurman, the love of his life and wife of over 67 years, during a winter storm snowball fight.

After high school, Jim joined the US Navy at Navy Station Great Lakes, serving on the USS Gatling DD671 and receiving an Honorable Discharge. Following the Navy, he opened Viking Electronics in Newport. During this time, he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering at Roger Williams College. He finished his career at Raytheon after 26 years, overseeing the sonar and magnetic labs.

When not working, he enjoyed family time, boating on the “Bugdozer 7”, evenings at 3rd Beach, scuba diving off Ocean Drive, shooting at the rifle club, and spending endless hours building all sorts of things in his barn (his man cave), like his walking sticks and weather rocks. An avid reader, Jim could always be found with a book in hand, whether on the deck, at the beach, or waiting for Virginia while she shopped. Jim and Virgina loved doing things together, including camping, biking, enjoying drinks and appetizers with their longtime neighbors, going to art openings, and traveling the East Coast and out West to visit family and friends. Jim took pride in telling stories of his grandmother and their Native American history. Upon retiring, Jim and Virginia became “snowbirds,” following the sun down to Florida.

He is survived by his children: Mitchell Thurman and his wife, Michele, Dawn Thurman and her fiancé Tom Mockler, Russell Thurman, and Lorna Cook and her husband, Jay; his grandchildren: Brittany Thurman, Mason Michalski, Camden Cook, and Caleigh Cook; as well as extended family and friends. He is preceded in death by his wife Virgina Thurman, his brother, Donald Thurman, and wife Juanita Thurman.

Jim would always start conversations with a corny joke, like “How many apples grow on a tree?… All of them.” As one journey ends, another begins with Virginia again. You will be missed, and until we meet again, you are forever in our hearts.

Per his wishes, he will be cremated.  A celebration of his life will be held on a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the Middletown Public Library, 700 West Main Road, Middletown, RI 02842.




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