September 8, 1932 – August 7, 2019

Surrounded by family and love at her Longmont home, Julia M. Thornbury, Ph.D. transitioned from this world to the next on August 7, 2019 and joined the love of her life, husband Jack. Julia had a passion for taking care of others and teaching, all the way to her very last breath.

Born September 8, 1932 to Archie and Gertrude (Minnich) McGregor in Marietta, OH, Julia was raised in Caldwell, OH, graduating from Caldwell High School, attending Miami University, and graduating from The Ohio State University Nursing School. She married her husband of 62 years, John (Jack) Rousseau Thornbury, M.D. of Columbus, OH, on March 20, 1955. They raised two children, Lee Allison and John McGregor.

Julia accompanied Jack for two years of active duty at Malmstrom AFB in Montana in the late 1950s, where their mutual love of the West began. Their love of the West was bookended with their final residency in Colorado for the past 25 years, close to their grandchildren.

After years as a wife and mother, Julia continued her education, obtaining an M.S. in Nursing at the University of Michigan in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Gerontology from the University of Rochester in 1989. Julia won the National Prize from the Gerontological Society of America in 1989 for her doctoral dissertation applying Piaget’s child cognitive theory in reverse for Alzheimer’s patients, an important contribution in furthering geriatric medicine research.

Julia was a teaching professor of Nursing at University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of New Mexico, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also had international teaching experience in pre-western China, Philippines, Western Europe, and Soviet Union, with Jack accompanying her as supportive spouse. Julia was a lifelong singer in choirs and chorales, including with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, Cincinnati Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and New Mexico Symphony. She was a national officer of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority.

Julia was a loving wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, and teacher, and enjoyed many devoted, life-long friendships. She will be deeply missed by her daughter, Lee Allison Thornbury; son, John (Amy Tryon) Thornbury; granddaughters Meg and Cate Thornbury; chosen grandchild Miguel Jaime; brother James McGregor and brothers-in-law Don Williams and Tom (Lorene) Thornbury; devoted caregiver Brittany Mosqueda; honorary son and daughter-in-law Don and Lan Barlow; nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and many cherished friends and colleagues around the world. A special thank you to the family/staff at Bross Street Assisted Living in Longmont.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 11 am at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Boulder. Memorial contributions can be made to Alzheimer’s Association (Chicago, IL), St. Mary Magdalene Church Outreach (Boulder, CO), or Suncrest Hospice (Ft. Collins, CO).

2 thoughts on “Julia McGregor Thornbury, Ph.D.”

  1. It was an incredible pleasure, and our great honor, to know and care for Julia in her last years. As a resident of Bross Street, Julia brought an amazing energy to the home. She was always willing to participate in fun activities, clapped loudly for all our entertainers, and was prolific in her praise for the staff and our work. She will be greatly missed by all!

    Godspeed, Julia–and may your soul sing and dance with your beloved husband in heaven. We love you!

  2. I am so honoured to have known Julia, and her tight hugs and her amazing smile will stay with me always.
    xoxo to entire family as well!

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