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Robin Lloyd Thornton

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Robin Lloyd Thornton, long-term resident of Lawson Place/Greene Met housing in Yellow Springs, passed away Feb. 16, 2024, at the age of 90.

Robin was born Jan. 11, 1934, in the county of Middlesex, on the outskirts of London, England. Robin was very loving toward his parents. He was the second son of his mother, Judith (Lloyd) Blodwin, of Mertha Tiduil, Wales, and his father, Robert Fleming Thornton, of London, England. He was preceded in death by both parents and his older brother. He was also preceded in death by his two wives, Ruthanne Burr and Juanetta Phillips, both of Springfield Ohio, and his stepson, Chipper Orum.

During World War II, in October 1940, while the Germans were dropping bombs on London, 6-year-old Robin and his 12-year-old brother were evacuated to Springfield Ohio, to live with movie house owners Phil and Helen Checkers, contacts made through his father’s work as a cinematography representative. Robin lived the rest of his life with fond memories of the four years spent living with the Checkers in Springfield and part time in Florida.

Returning to England at 10 years old, his life was rough. His father remained in military service in Africa, fighting Rommel’s forces. His mother struggled to keep the house safe and well provisioned. Unfortunately, Robin suffered constant physical abuse from his older brother, most notably arm twisting, which resulted in his need for surgeries, which prevented him from graduating with his class at the Haberdashers Aske’s Hampstead School.

Robin chose an alternative route at age 16 and took command training for Merchant Marines at Outward Bound for two months and later went to Portsmouth Military Academy, then joined the Royal British Air Force for three years, becoming a corporal.

After his military service, at age 21, he was invited back to the United States to help with the Checkers’ movie house empire, working as manager in the Majestic Theater in Springfield, then in the Park Theater in Cleveland, then back to England at the Ritz at Bowes Road.

Robin’s father survived the war, but later took a paralyzing fall while assessing damage at a bombed theater in Germany. Robin’s father never made it back to England and died after a year-long hospitalization, which was devastating to the family. 

After that, Robin returned to the United States and worked in the largest movie house, The Stanley, in Jersey City; also the Warner, in Ridgewood, and Oretanie, in Hackensack. Life in New Jersey became dangerous when Robin inadvertently got mixed up with organized crime, through an acquaintance named Bruno who offered him work “driving” a car. Excursions included scalping fight tickets, cutting perfume with alcohol for resale and lifting liquor from loading docks. When a Mafioso’s girlfriend took an interest in Robin, he felt his life was in danger, so he packed up and fled west, landing in Lexington, Kentucky, where he began his next career in restaurants.

Starting as a dishwasher,  Robin eventually managed/owned eight restaurants — one in England — including The Ranch Boy, in Lexington, and pizza houses in Springfield, Jamestown and South Charleston.

Robin got his pilot license in the late 1980s and flew a private Piper Cherokee. He also drove semitrucks for Wilson Freight. Robin was an excellent driver of trucks and cars, and never had an accident or a ticket.

In his 50s, Robin taught himself house construction and was able to purchase a bit of land on U.S. 68, north of Yellow Springs, and dug his own septic system with a shovel. He used scraps and salvage to produce two living quarters, complete with baths and kitchens. His ingenuity in this endeavor impressed all who knew him during those years.

Robin began slowing down in his 70s and lived a modest life in Yellow Springs until his transfer to Shawnee Estates Assisted Living in August 2023.

He leaves behind a small bank account in the amount of $8,000, which will be donated to humanitarian aid for the children in Palestine, a cause for which Robin had a lifetime dedication.


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