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John Ross Thurston

John Ross Thurston

February 9, 2018

John Ross Thurston, 93, died on February 9, 2018, at River Pines Nursing Home in Altoona, Wisconsin.

John was born in the old Sacred Hospital in Eau Claire to John and Mary Thurston on April 6, 1924, and he was raised in Altoona.

John served in the Navy as a signalman during World War II.  He was on the USS Porter and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. 

John earned his BA and Masters degrees at Madison and his PhD at Iowa University and served as a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clare until his retirement in the mid- 80s. He was also a clinical psychologist at Northwest Psychiatric Services.

John married Helen Kroll in 1952, and they had two children, Amy and David.  John married Betty Loomis in 1982. During their time together, John and Betty enjoyed several memorable trips around the globe.

John enjoyed visiting National Parks, advocating for the rights of women and animals, and preserving local history. He was instrumental in securing National Register status for the Kinnickinnic Church near River Falls in 2001, and he researched and wrote extensively about the history of Altoona.  A lifelong humanist, he designed and placed two large "geoglyph" designs on his property, in tribute to acquaintances who were battling cancer.

John enjoyed pondering upon the mysteries of life and devised little maxims he called pithograms. He published many articles and other writings, most recently "Nurses’ Communicative and Empathic Skills (2015)" and "The Thurstonian Theory (2014).”

John is preceded in death by wife, Betty; son, David; and brother, Richard Thurston.

John is survived by daughter, Amy Thurston of Hudson; nephews, Rick (Kathy) Thurston, Greg (Sarah) Thurston, and Dan Thurston; stepchildren, Bill (Sandi) Loomis and Sandra (Kevin) Larson; family friends, Becky Johnson, Deb (Denny) Fjelstad, Patti Stangel, Carol Benning, Jerry and Betty Harper; and canine friend Johnny.

Chippewa Valley Cremation Services of Altoona, WI, is assisting the family. Per John’s request, there will be no service.  To sign the guestbook or share a memory online, please visit www.chippewavalleycremation.com.

Memorial contributions may be given to the Eau Claire Community Foundation (The Thurston “It’s the Little Things” Family Fund), Wildlife R and R in Colfax, or Bob’s House for Dogs.


Florist Information



  • Bill Poirier I had the opportunity to become acquainted with Dr. John Thurston while working at River Pines and came to think of him as a friend. We had long rambling conversations about life, travels, and the pretty girls we either knew or would have liked to have known. I visited him last Sunday and I think we both knew we were saying our final goodbyes. I’m deeply saddened by his passing, but I find some solace in a conversation we had not too long ago when he confided he was tired and ready to go. We would sometimes debate his theory of all of our life’s choices and interactions with others putting us on the path we follow and although I won’t concede, I’ll always be thankful that my path crossed John’s.

    February 12 at 12:48pm

  • Mickey Crothers Dear Amy and Family...

    I'm sending condolences on behalf of the UW-Eau Claire Psychology Department. I took the Abnormal Psychology course with Dr. Thurston about 39 years ago, and still remember many of the things I learned from him. I have used them well in my own careers as a clinical psychologist, and as the current professor of the Abnormal Psychology course. Please know that our thoughts are with you and we send our sympathy for your loss.

    Mickey Crothers
    On behalf of the UW-Eau Claire Department of Psychology

    February 12 at 12:17pm

  • Marlene R. Jannusch Dear Amy...
    It is always difficult to write a few words about the loss of our heros, ...but, I think even more so, when an "only child" writes another "only child", sharing the life and death of a loved one, it becomes even more arduous.
    He was a very independent thinker and candid conversationalist. I always enjoyed and relished the dialogue between your father and me, and will remember many of those critiques forever.
    John had a way of confronting issues, pinpointing problems, and sharing observations. I will miss...His way with words
    Sending loving thoughts your way.
    Marlene Jannusch, Ph.D

    February 12 at 11:11am

  • Don & Mary Winrich Our deepest sympathies go out to you and your family. May God give you the comfort and peace that you seek and may the soul of your loved one rest in peace.

    February 11 at 7:20PM

  • Marge Sandfort Amy I am so sadden for you at this time. Your dad lived a very full life and I can see many of his traits in you. He taught you the love of history and kindness for wildlife of all kind.
    I'm sure your love of teaching was just like your dad would have liked it to be. Madi still tells me you were her all time favorite. Sending you sympathy and much love. Enjoy all the memories. Marge

    February 11 at 11:03AM

  • Amy Mitchell Amy: Your Dad was a familiar face at all school events and it was clear he loved you dearly and was so very proud of you! He passed on his love of animals, preserving our past history, and doing what is right even when it is difficult. I know your heart is broken, and I pray that over time tears will become smiles as you recall all the wonderful moments you shared. "If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart - I'll stay there forever."

    February 11 at 7:33AM

  • David Many people "stop by" on this Earth, futz around a bit, then move along, but John Thurston was one of the special ones; an individual who truly left a mark.A man of empathy, integrity, warmth and a deep, sincere concern for the well being of others. The world is a better place for his 93 years of life, yet, his legacy will live on for far, far longer than just that near century.

    My sincerest condolences to Amy, the twinkle of his eye, and to all the extended family and loved ones that he touched so deeply.

    David Schrager

    February 11 at 6:29AM

  • Ruth Mundden I extend my sympathy to John's family after his passing. My mother and John were friends from Altoona High School and I was happy to develop a friendship. He certainly had many accomplishments in life and knew how to live life to the fullest. May all the wonderful memories you have of him help ease the pain of your loss. With sincere sympathy, Ruth Munden.

    February 11 at 6:10AM

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