1927 Booklet Published for Chester Thorne Funeral
The founder of Thornewood Castle, Chester Thorne, was a significant figure in the history of the Pacific Northwest. Building Thornewood Castle was only one of his many endeavors. He arrived in Tacoma, Washington in 1890, and became one of the leading figures in the local industry and community, including founding the Port of Tacoma. He was also known for his genial nature, deliberate mind, and indomitable spirit.
Building Thornewood Castle
Thorne spent his life as a civic leader moving foward the development of the Pacific Northwest region. With this industrious nature, it is not surprising that he decided to build his own castle, right in the heart of the area to which he had devoted his life and career.
1863 – 1927
It is not the purpose of this little booklet to attempt to record the history or accomplishments of Chester Thorne. Those who knew him will need no reminder of the qualities which set him apart among his fellows. Few men achieve and hold such a place in the esteem and affections of a community as did Mr. Thorne in the City of Tacoma.
His associates in this bank to whom Mr. Thorne has meant so much will want to pass on to those who succeed them something of the fine memories which are theirs, and it is with the hope that the preservation of a few of the expressions which followed his passing may serve this end that these pages are dedicated.
The National Bank of Tacoma
The National Bank of Tacoma
For nearly forty years this bank and its predecessor, The National Bank of Commerce, and Chester Thorne have been in the public mind, and in fact, inseparable. Mr. Thorne has meant more to the Bank than any other man. Although he was interested in many other financial and business enterprises and was a constant and devoted worker for the good of the whole community and of the Northwest generally, no other financial or civic institution meant so much to him as did the Bank down to the very day of his death. This board, met in special session, the members present being Messrs. A. F. Albertson, J. L. Carman, Minot Davis, F. S. Fogg, J. T. Gregory, E. M. Hayden, Henry Hewitt, C. H. Hyde, S. M. Jackson, R. R. Mattison, L. T. Murray and W. R. Rust, feels that it is appropriate to record in its records some of the facts of his career and to express, inadequately though it may be, our appreciation of his qualities, and what he accomplished, and our sympathy to his family.
Mr. Thorne was born in New York, November 11, 1863, the son of Edwin and Charlotte Pearsall Thorne, both of English descent. He graduated from Yale College in 1884, having majored in engineering. He was employed in the Engineering Department of the Missouri Pacific Railway, of which H. M. Hoxie was General Manager, and in 1886 married Miss Anna Hoxie, niece of H. M. Hoxie and daughter of M. B. Hoxie, who later was for some years a well known attorney of this city. After several years of railroad work Mr. Thorne came to Tacoma in 1890, when he first acquired stock in The National Bank of Commerce. In 1893, while he was in Europe, he was elected President of the Bank. He held that office until it was consolidated in 1913 with the Pacific National Bank, the combination constituting the present The National Bank of Tacoma, of which Mr. Thorne then became Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Mr. Thorne was only thirty years old when, in 1893, he assumed the presidency of The National Bank of Commerce. It was a time of world-wide financial panic, probably in no place worse than in this then new city. When he was elected President, many of the banks of the city already had failed or were in the most difficult circumstances, and the failure of The National Bank of Commerce seemed not improbable unless large sums were advanced to make good the impairment of its capital stock. No one but Chester Thorne could or would take the hazard. Money for that purpose could not be borrowed. He was able to secure a large sum, but only with great difficulty and at serious sacrifice and from his own private fortune, and he unhesitatingly took the hazard.
His faith has been amply justified, but we of this Bank will not forget that except for that faith and that courage, the outcome almost certainly would have been different; and that not only the stockholders, but thousands of depositors would have lost their fortunes, and the community, already suffering from disasters which at the time seemed almost to threaten the existence of the city, would have had another serious blow.
Mr. Thorne was at various times director of and an officer of many corporations, having to do with the development of the Northwest, inclusive of the Pacific Cold Storage Company, Pacific Alaska Navigation Company, Pacific Steamship Company, Alaska Coast Company, Tacoma General Hospital, Annie Wright Seminary, Rainier National Park Company, and Tacoma Savings Bank & Trust Company. For seven years prior to his death, he was a member of the Board and President of the Port of Tacoma. He was a member of the Union Club, Tacoma Country & Golf Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Fircrest Golf Club of Tacoma, the University Club of New York, and the Rainier Club and Seattle Country and Golf Club of Seattle. He died after an illness of some months at Thornewood, his home at American Lake, on Sunday, October 16, 1927, leaving surviving him in his immediate family, his wife, Mrs. Anna Hoxie Thorne, his daughter, Anita Thorne Corse, three grandchildren, Chester Thorne Corse, Anita Corse and Diana Golden Corse, and his brother, Oakleigh Thorne.
Lenient in his judgment of others, the standard of conduct which Mr. Thorne set for himself was the highest. Kindly, gentle, unostentatious and unselfish, such aspirations as he had were in behalf of the general welfare and not for himself. In the highest sense he realized the responsibilities of wealth; it was a trust committed to him to administer for the benefit of his fellow-man. He treated wealth as broadening his opportunities for service rather than for the gratification of his personal desires. Simple in his tastes, he expended large amounts for the welfare of others. He numbered among his personal friends many men and women of every occupation and of every class. His counsel was freely given. Financial help was extended whenever and to whomsoever that help in his judgment was needed and justified.
As a man of means his participation was sought in many enterprises and it was freely given. His answer to such invitations was always determined much more by his judgment as to whether the enterprise was of public benefit and especially whether it was for the benefit of Tacoma than by its probable profit or lack of profit to himself. Personal gain was to him never a primary consideration. Throughout his long life in Tacoma, his loyalty to the community and to the Northwest never wavered. In good times and in bad, under circumstances frequently difficult and sometimes discouraging he was foremost in every movement and enterprise calculated to advance this city. His keen mind and his great resourcefulness, his money and his energies, were given unselfishly for the community. Though he was seriously ill for several months, he continued to work and think and plan and counsel with others for Tacoma, down to the day of his death. His interest was not lessened as death approached; it was rather increased because of his great desire to accomplish as much as he could accomplish before passing on, as he knew he must. The death of no other person in this city could be felt more deeply than that of our late friend and associate. At all times and under all circumstances he gave unsparingly of his time, his energy and his resources of mind to this institution, and the place that the Bank has achieved in the city and in the Northwest is due in a large part to Chester Thorne.
We do now therefore Resolve that in the death of Chester Thorne, this Bank, its officers and the members of its Board of Directors have suffered the loss of a wise counselor and beloved associate; the City of Tacoma has lost its most useful citizen, and the Northwest one of its foremost leaders. We extend to the family our deepest sympathy, and direct that a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to them. We also direct that a copy of this resolution be spread at large on the minutes of this meeting, and that it be presented to the stockholders for their adoption at the next annual meeting.
S. M. Jackson
R. R. Mattison
TACOMA CLEARING HOUSE ASSOCIATION
Resolutions passed October 20, 1927,
at Special Meeting
In the death of—
this Association, the City, the State, and the entire Northwest, have lost one of the most outstanding characters and factors in their development. Since early manhood he has been an outstanding character in the development of the business, banking and social life not only of this particular community, but of the larger field commonly called the "Pacific Northwest".
During his early life and business career he was subjected to storms brought on primarily by a nation-wide panic, which were in all their fury in this newer and more or less unstable community, and which at all times called for and demanded the clearest of clear thinking, indomitable courage, and a spirit never, even under the most adverse circumstances, admitting defeat. It was by these very characteristics that he was able not only to save himself and those institutions in which he was most directly interested, but also innumerable others who were dependent upon him and his ability, and to weather the storm and build a firm foundation for his future success.
He has given unstintingly of his service to the upbuilding of the community, and at a great sacrifice to himself, his health and personal business affairs he has devoted his time and talents to the success of large civic enterprises.
He died, having the esteem, respect and love of all those who had occasion to come in direct contact with him, as well as the admiration and respect of those who knew him only by his deeds. In his passing, this Association has lost the guiding hand of one whose standards and ideals were always of the highest and one who has been instrumental at all times in establishing and maintaining the highest standard of ethics in the administration of its affairs.
We will miss his kindly smile and his quiet, deliberate and well-considered counsel and advice. We feel it but proper that the records of this Association should permanently show the place Chester Thorne held among us—
Be it therefore RESOLVED that this
wholly insufficient tribute to the man whose life has been an inspiration to all of us, be spread upon the minutes of the – Clearing House Association – and that a copy thereof be sent to his family with the heartfelt expressions of sympathy of the Association.
In a regular meeting of the
Tacoma Chamber of Commerce
Held in the Hotel Winthrop, Wednesday, October 26, 1927, the following
Resolution was unanimously passed by a rising vote;
Be it RESOLVED That in the passing of our leading and distinguished citizen
this organization feels bereft of one of its greatest, if not the greatest source of industrial strength and power.
That his constant, firm, but kindly co-operation, always blended with calm, pure and effective action, imparted inspiration and courage to our membership.
That even though he studiously kept himself in the background and exhibited a modesty which shunned everything in the nature of publicity, his valuable and meritorious deeds are known to all.
That the results of his profound loyalty and self-sacrificing accomplishments will remain for the benefit of future generations long after the memory of his name shall have passed on from those who knew him in this life.
That the example, wisdom and counsel of š Chester Thorne› will serve as a precedent and guide when encountering problems and dangers incident to the successful administration of this Chamber and the future of Tacoma.
We feel that the sincere sadness and grief resting upon every member of this Chamber is secondary only to that of Mr. Thorne’s family and relatives, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.
Tacoma Chamber of Commerce
Attest: J. __. Stevenson Secretary
Port of Tacoma
Resolution No. 216
A RESOLUTION on the death of Mr. Chester Thorne, a member of the Port Commission.
The death of Mr. Chester Thorne on the 16th day of October, 1927, removes from the Port Commission one whose service over the past nine years has been one of continuous devotion to public duties. His untiring efforts to develop a great deep-water terminal that should intimately touch the currents of world trade, have borne fruit, and the magnificent properties of the Port of Tacoma will forever stand as
a monument to his foresight, zeal and energy.
The spirit of harmony and cooperation that has characterized the labors of the Port Commission through the years of its existence; the conspicuous absence of unseemly political controversies are attributable to the sterling character and unswerving sense of fairness of the splendid man who for the first seven years of the life of
the Port, served as President of the Board of Port Commissioners. Only his failing health induced his associates to permit him to lay aside the duties of that office, to thereafter serve as a Commissioner.
Four times the people of Pierce County elected Mr. Thorne to the office of Port Commissioner. This tribute to his ability and sound business judgment reflected the confidence reposed in him by all. His attitude toward the problems of his office found expression in an intense loyalty to Tacoma and a sincere desire to make the Port an instrument of real service to the business life of this community.
Without hope of material reward, he gave the last full measure of devotion to his duties. The records of the Port of Tacoma bear silent witness to his faithful attendance at sessions of the Commission; his close and careful attention to the various details of Port activities, his deep abiding sense of responsibility to public interest.
The history of the Port of Tacoma will remain inseparably linked with the honored name of the man, who more than any other, made possible its existence and the large measure of success it has enjoyed.
Unanimously adopted by the Port Commission of the Port of Tacoma on the 17th day of October, 1927, a majority of the members of the Port Commission being present at said meeting and voting on the resolution, and signed by its President and attested by its Secretary, under the official seal of said Commission in authentication of its passage, this 17th day of October, 1927.
Charles W. Orton
President of the Port Commission of the Port of Tacoma
Secretary of the Port Commission of the Port of Tacoma
TACOMA GENERAL HOSPITAL
Resolution of the Board of Trustees
of Tacoma General Hospital
Since the last annual meeting of this board, we have suffered the loss of Chester Thorne. For more than 25 years he was a member of this body and for many years was treasurer and a member of the executive committee of the board. As a member of the executive committee he was called upon constantly to give of his time and his thought. During the period of his service the institution has grown from a small and inadequately equipped hospital to one of the strongest in the State and one which is recognized throughout the country as giving service equal to that rendered by any like institution. Though he always had many other interests, both public and private, he let nothing keep him from doing whatever he could do to forward its development. He believed that the up-building of a strong, modern hospital in Tacoma, conducted for the public welfare, was one of the city’s greatest needs, and that in aiding it he was assisting materially in the up-building of the community, which was always his dominating thought.
This board does therefore now resolve that in the death of Chester Thorne we have suffered the loss of our most loved associate, one whose counsel was always wise and was freely given, whose time and active mind were available whenever required to meet important problems often arising, and whose influence in behalf of the hospital and what it represented in the community and the State was constantly and effectively exerted. We sorry with the family and extend to them our most profound sympathy.
THE ANNIE WRIGHT SEMINARY
The Trustees of the Annie Wright Seminary, assembled at their first meeting since the passing away of their associate, Mr. Chester Thorne, desire to place on record their appreciation of his long and faithful service on behalf of the Seminary. He was intensely interested in all that concerned its welfare, and ever ready to devote whatever time and thought found necessary for the proper administration of its affairs.
By reason of his remarkable character, and genial nature, he was esteemed and loved by us all, and will be greatly missed in our future deliberations.
PIERCE COUNTY SOCIAL HYGIENE SOCIETY
In the passing of Mr. Chester Thorne the Pierce County Social Hygiene Society loses a valuable friend. During the years when we were dependent upon the voluntary interest and support of the public, Mr. Thorne gave more of his time and influence than any other citizen to aid our Executive Secretary in securing funds for the carrying on of our work.
Since the Society has been a member of the Community Chest and such personal assistance has been no longer needed, Mr. Thorne, a charter member of our Board of Directors, has continued to show a live interest in our aims and progress. For several years he has made our Secretary the almoner of gifts to the poor and needy.
We mourn the passing of a public-minded citizen, city-wide in his interest in its philanthropic and charitable activities.
RAINIER NATIONAL PARK COMPANY
WHEREAS, CHESTER THORNE, the first President of this corporation and at all times since then a member of its Board of Directors and closely identified with every activity of the company, passed out of this life on the 16th day of October, 1927, it is hereby
RESOLVED: That it is with a profound sense of personal loss that the Board of Directors of Rainier National Park Company express their sorrow at the passing of a man who in a marked degree typified the finest qualities of American citizenship, a public spirited citizen who gave generously of his time and effort for the advancement of the Northwest, and a man who exemplified in his business and private life the highest standards of personal integrity and honor, and, be it further
RESOLVED: That these resolutions be entered upon the minutes of this corporation, and that a copy be sent to the family of the deceased.
SEATTLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
"WHEREAS, The Pacific Northwest, the City of Tacoma particularly, has lost a distinguished citizen in the death of Mr. Chester Thorne, and
"WHEREAS, This entire section of the country has profited by the force of Mr. Thorne’s personality and accomplishments,
"THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Trustees of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce convey to the Chamber of Commerce of Tacoma and to the bereaved widow, an expression of this organization’s condolences and sympathy."
October 17, 1927
Today Tacoma bows in sorrow at the bier of one of its most distinguished citizens; one of its most loyal sons; one of its most devoted advocates—Chester Thorne.
While an intensely loyal Tacoman, using every bit of his exceptional talent for the advancement of the home of his choice, Chester Thorne attracted to himself, because of his personality and his attainments, the regard and respect of the entire Pacific Coast regions. His reputation for financial wisdom and foresight was not confined to local or even state bounds, his standing as man and citizen reached to all parts of that great new region which he had envisioned as the "last word" in American civilization and development.
Chester Thorne was born at Thornedale, Dutchess county, N. Y., November 11, 1863. He was of a family of financiers and therefore came naturally by his exceptional talents as banker and promoter of the sort of enterprises which go to build empires. Coming to Tacoma in 1890 he became connected with The National Bank of Commerce, remaining with that institution until it became merged into The National Bank of Tacoma after which he relinquished active control, becoming chairman of the board of directors.
To him Tacoma owes much of its commercial and industrial welfare. Whenever there was promise that an infant industry could be made important, Chester Thorne could be relied upon to get behind it. The general recognition of the soundness of his financial and business judgment by eastern capital and eastern industrialists assured close attention to his recommendations and this in many instances led to the investment of eastern capital in numerous Tacoma and Puget Sound enterprises.
While outstanding as a financier and business man Chester Thorne ranked as a clear-headed, far-sighted citizen, intensely interested in his city, county and state, ever ready to expend his energies and money in the advancement of their welfare.
On the purely personal side Chester Thorne was an earnest lover of humanity—a believer in the doctrine that it was good for one to help his fellows. In Tacoma, and for that matter throughout the Puget Sound region generally, there are today many men who can say that it was the considerate helpfulness of Chester Thorne that enabled them to stave off disaster and to again gain a sound business footing.
Tacoma today mourns the loss of a devoted son.
October 17, 1927
The passing of Chester Thorne is an inestimable loss to Tacoma.
He was one of this city’s best loved men, a great leader in industrial and civic enterprises, a true friend to hundreds in all walks of life. He was the father of the Port of Tacoma and to it he gave much of his time during the later years of his life, serving as Port Commissioner.
Chester Thorne’s friends will be found in all walks of life, for he was easy of access, never kept himself aloof from the public, and never failed to give a helping hand to those in distress who sought his aid. He will always be remembered as a kindly, courteous, open-minded and open-hearted gentleman.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
October 18, 1927
More than personal regret will be expressed by the people of Western Washington over the death of Chester Thorne of Tacoma. Thirty-seven years ago he took a place in that fast-growing city’s financial life. He was not long in rising to leadership, which he maintained to the end.
His interests were broad, evenly balanced between private business and promotion of civic enterprises. His activities resulted in acquirement of a large personal fortune, but his wise direction probably contributed a much vaster amount in the enrichment of his city.
He was truly a pioneer in founding the business structure of Puget Sound. Others must now take his place. It is to be hoped that they will possess his penetrating vision and abiding faith.
Portland, Oregon Telegram
Oct. 20, 1927
A FRIEND OF THE NORTHWEST
Chester Thorne of Tacoma, one of the leading bankers of the Pacific Northwest, is dead. In his passing the states of Oregon and Washington lose a good friend. Not only a constructive figure in banking, Mr. Thorne was a factor in the development of the entire Northwest. He gave of his time and money to many worthy matters of community endeavor, whether it was the betterment of the lumber industry, the reclaiming of logged-off lands or the development of tourist travel. Mount Rainier National Park and its great system of properly welcoming and entertaining tourists, is a monument to Mr. Thorne, for many years president and director of the Rainier National Park Company. A t one time that enterprise was indebted to him personally to the extent of $90,000. That the enterprise developed and became financially successful is due to his good business management. The Northwest needs men of such vision and courage. When they go on we miss them, but their good deeds remain an inspiration.
Tacoma News Herald
October 22, 1927
The death of Chester Thorne, chairman of the board of directors of The National Bank of Tacoma, removes Tacoma’s most prominent financier; a pioneer and leading citizen. Few men have left a deeper impress upon the history of the business community of Tacoma than did Chester Thorne. The record which he leaves as banker marked him as a man of rare ability and judgment. This ability and judgment were subjected to a crucial test in guiding the destinies of the institution of which he was the head through the critical period in Tacoma’s history—a period which reduced the number of its banks from 22 to 4, of which The National Bank of Tacoma, representing a consolidation of The National Bank of Commerce, of which he was president and the Pacific National Bank, is the sole survivor with continuity in manager. Aside from the management of his own affairs, Mr. Thorne was actively identified with the organization of a number of large industrial corporations, served as advisor to many of Tacoma’s leading business men and rendered distinguished service in assisting in financing many large concerns and important operations. His identity with public affairs was largely through participation with organized effort, although after retirement from active management of the bank, he has given personal attention to the work of harbor development, serving as head of the port commission, a position to which he was repeatedly elected with no opposing candidate. Distinguished tribute was paid to the memory of Chester Thorne by prominent and pioneer business men of Tacoma and the Northwest in the funeral services held Wednesday, while civic and commercial organizations joined with the general public in expressions of regret at the termination of a career of distinguished usefulness.
Tacoma Ryan’s Weekly
Oct. 22, 1927
THE PASSING OF CHESTER THORNE
The death of Chester Thorne removes a prominent factor in the economic life of the community. For many years he has exerted a powerful influence in the gradual but permanent expansion of our industrial development.
Mr. Thorne was a kindly man and gave aid to many young men who were endeavoring to build business enterprises in this city. One of his outstanding characteristics was his stubborn loyalty to his friends. He swept aside business and political considerations where friendship was involved.
He was intensely loyal to Tacoma and this undoubtedly brought him into positions where harmony did not prevail. His wide interests in a business way kept him in touch with concerns that did not love Tacoma, but his optimistic attitude toward Tacoma never changed.
He served for seven years as Chairman of the Port Commission. He gave the closest attention to the details of Port activities and the magnificent terminals are in a large measure the outgrowth of his efforts. The Port has been a peculiar public institution in that politics has never played any part in its activities. Men employed there were never asked their religious or political affiliations. This indicated the attitude of Mr. Thorne toward public service.
Mr. Thorne was very charitable in his judgments of his fellows. He never seemed to cherish bitterness toward any person. Friends say that he met his end in a spirit of gentleness and a manly resignation.
The city of Tacoma has lost a good friend.
Seattle Business Chronicle
October 22, 1927
BY WAY OF INTERPRETATION
In the passing of Chester Thorne a loss well-nigh irreparable is visited on Tacoma, the home of his choice, and on the entire Pacific Northwest, the land of his adoption. He belonged to that race of giants, mighty in their day and age, who are correctly designated builders of empire.
Of a family whose valorous deeds and public services date back to the beginning of colonial America, he came to the country of the North Coast at the very time there was a mighty need for him; and as if Fate itself had cast the die he entered zealously into the constructive work that long will make his name remembered as among those who achievements are not merely remarkable, but colossal.
He builded for Tacoma, contributing to that task the efficacy and power that spring from financial genius; and in building for that city, which has grown and developed so splendidly, he aided in bringing about the miracle which is the Pacific Northwest of today.
As a banker, as in everything else, he was essentially the builder; National Bank of Tacoma is a monument to his integrity and foresight. In a public way, he became identified with Port of Tacoma, serving as its head without pay or any thought of reward except the personal satisfaction of shaping Tacoma into a great seaport. As a citizen, he cherished and exemplified the highest ideals—walking humbly and gently among his fellow men, encouraging and aiding them whenever he could, always assisting in community enterprises of merit either as leader or in the ranks.
Few are the men born to do and achieve, scattering the pearls of friendliness, kindness, good will and sublime faith, as did Chester Thorne.
He has gone, mourned by thousands—for in his going the mighty heart of Tacoma, his chosen home, and of the Pacific Northwest, the region he sought out as the Land of Promise, is throbbing with grief.
He left many a monument in the material progress of which he was a part; but the enduring thing is the affection in which his honored name is held by the people with whom he cast his lot—and in the example he set for the youth of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow.