Ernest N. Thorp 95 of rural Clinton, Illinois passed away 8:47 PM, Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at Hawthorne Inn, Clinton, Il. Our family wishes to thank the staff at Hawthorne Inn as well as the 24/7 caregivers that gave such loving and dedicated care to Ernest.
Services for Ernest will be 11 AM, Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the Clinton United Methodist Church, 308 E. Main St., Clinton, IL, with Rev. C. Don Ferrill officiating. Burial will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery, Clinton, IL with Military Honors. Visitation will be 4 – 8 PM, Friday, February 10, 2017 at the church with Masonic Rites at 4 PM. Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, IL is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be given to the Clinton United Methodist Church Endowment Fund or the American Red Cross, Central Illinois Processing Center, PO Box 811460, Chicago, IL 60681-1460 or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
Ernest was born February 3, 1921 in Clinton, IL, the son of Claude W. and M. Louise (Carter) Thorp. He married Mary Ellen Harris in 1945, she passed away in 1986, Verneal Dunn in 1990, she passed away in 2005, and Helen Hume in 2006.
Survivors include his wife, Helen; son, Nelson I. (Linda) Thorp, rural Wapella, IL; daughters: Carol van Rossum, Lincoln, NE; Marjorie Thorp, Bothell, WA; and Zelda Lewis, Joliet, IL; and son, Lewis A. (Cathy) Thorp, Herndon, VA; 7 grandchildren: Jennifer (Trent) Klomhaus, Natalie (Rory) O’Connell, Jered (McKenzie) Thorp, Emily (Jason) Plourde, Kira (Gabrial) van Rossum, Sarah (Steve) Kaminsky, Doug (Emily) Lewis; 8 great-grandchildren; 3 sisters: Andrea Miller, Winston-Salem, NC; Ruth Lutz, Dewey, IL; and Norma Wedekind, Raymond, IL, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Carl E., 3 sisters, Evalyn, Mary Alice Moberly, and Sarah Jackson, and son-in-law, Charles van Rossum.
Ernest lived and thrived on the farm. He attended Thorp Grade School, Wapella High School Class of 1939, Illinois State Normal University for 2 years and then graduated from the University of Illinois in 1943. Ernest obtained his private pilot’s license in 1941. He served in the Army Air Corps 1943-1945 as a B-17 pilot.He was shot down over the North Sea and was a POW for 9 months. Upon coming home, he joined his brother and father in the family seed business, Thorp Seed Company. He retired from the US Air Force Reserve as a Captain. His community involvement included the Methodist Churches of Prairie Center and Clinton. He was proud to become a certified lay leader of the church and served on district and conference boards of the United Methodist Church.
He served on the Wapella School Board and was able to give all 5 of his children their high school diplomas.
Other involvements included being a director of First National Bank of Clinton, the Masonic Orders, Kiwanis, Farm Bureau, DeWitt County Housing Authority, DeWitt County Building Commission, DeWitt County Conservation Board, DeWitt County Co-op, and the Clinton YMCA.
Ernest was an active member of the International Flying Farmers and served through the executive offices. He received great satisfaction in speaking publicly about his World War II experiences. His passions were flying, accumulating over 7000 hours over 70 years, reading, trees, birds and his beloved Chicago Cubs baseball team. Numerous people had their first airplane ride with Ernest as a pilot.
Ernest was known about town for his 1977 White Ford LTD station wagon that he drove until 2014. Whether it be driving to the Post Office or busting snow drifts it was special to him in many ways.
Ernest was recognized by the community for his philanthropic gifts.
Ernest’s life was based on his faith, his love of family, flying and community. A man who made a difference to many, in many different ways. “He was just a boy that wanted to be home on the farm.”

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