Ray Thornton, former A-State president, dies at 87

Ray Thornton, former A-State president, dies at 87

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Raymond Hoyt Thornton, Jr., former Arkansas State University president, died Wednesday morning, according to a report in Arkansas Business. He was 87.

Thornton served as A-State's president from 1980 to 1984. In 1984 he assumed the helm of the University of Arkansas until 1990.

In addition to presiding over the two universities, Thornton served as Arkansas Attorney General from 1971 to 1973, and represented Arkansas's 4th district from 1973 to 1979 and 4th District from 1991 to 1997.

In 1997 he was named an Arkansas Supreme Court justice, serving until 2005.

Thornton's sister, Betty Thornton Ulrey, confirmed her brother's death to the paper. She said funeral arrangements are pending.

Arkansas politicians released statement's following Thornton's death.

Senator John Boozman released this statement:

"Congressman Ray Thornton led a distinguished career that benefited Arkansas from public service as an elected official to leading our state's top universities. His dedication to the people of Arkansas leaves a lasting impact. I join with all Arkansans as we mourn the passing of Congressman Thornton and keep his family and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers."

Senator Tom Cotton also stated:

"I join all Arkansans in mourning the death and celebrating the life of Congressman Ray Thornton, a pillar of political and educational life in Arkansas. Whether it was during his tenure as President of both Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas, representing two congressional districts, or serving as a Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court, Ray leaves a lasting legacy of selfless service and principled leadership. My thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Thornton's family and friends."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson commented:

"I was greatly saddened to hear about the passing of former Congressman Ray Thornton. Ray was an Arkansas gem who passionately served the people of this state for many years. He was a man who had a genuine heart for the people of Arkansas. Every time I saw Ray, he had a smile and a word of encouragement. He will be greatly missed, and my heart goes out to his family and loved ones."

Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin replied:

"I was saddened this morning to hear of the passing of Ray Thornton.  Ray was a long-time dedicated public servant who served Arkansas in many ways, including as attorney general of Arkansas, a United States congressman, justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, and president of both Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas.  His legacy is inspirational to the next generation of leaders."

Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan released this statement:

"Ray was a consummate Arkansan and public servant.  From serving as a United States Congressman, Arkansas Supreme Court Justice, Arkansas Attorney General to President of our two largest land grant universities, he always put the people of Arkansas first and served as a true leader.  Tina and my thoughts are with Betty and the rest of the Thornton family.  May God grant them peace and comfort during this difficult time."

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