Jim and Ginny Thorn honored for service

Tickets on sale now for Rush City Chamber’s Community Service Award program Jan. 18

Jim and Ginny Thorn pictured inside Fabric Fashions & More in downtown Rush City. Photo by Jon Tatting
Jim and Ginny Thorn pictured inside Fabric Fashions & More in downtown Rush City. Photo by Jon Tatting

One Rush City couple has taken on multiple roles through the years in giving back to a community that’s been so good to them.

Jim and Ginny Thorn are set to be honored with the 2013 Rush City Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award during a special program Saturday, Jan. 18, in The Spare Room at Chucker’s Bowl & Lounge. The event begins with social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the award presentation at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling Loring Nelson at 320-358-4209; Mike Carroll, 320-358-4735; or the Rush City Chamber, 320-358-4639. Tickets also may be purchased at Hairdo or Dye; Fabric Fashions & More; Hermann Insurance or Unity Bank.

People from inside and out of the community know the Thorns through their Fabric Fashions & More business at 485 S. Dana Ave., in downtown Rush City. They have enjoyed a long-time commitment to the Rush City area through volunteerism and community service, as well, which have had positive impacts on all generations.

As commissioner on the Chisago County Board from 1996-2000, Jim Thorn enjoyed a good working relationship with fellow board members including Bob Gustafson, Bob VanDeKamp, Tom Delaney and others.

He worked on a $6 million bond improvement, with the largest percentage of roadwork set for the northern part of the county. He was involved in developing a Chisago County senior housing community in North Branch.

Jim Thorn hit the 29-year mark in 2013 with the Rush City Lions Club, which he joined in October 1984. Sponsored by Virgil Hanson, he served as gambling manager for 25 years. His work hardly went unnoticed, as he earned the Melvin Jones Award in 1987-88, the Helen Keller Award two times, Lion of the Year in 1989-90 and the Secretary Award.

He assisted in donations from the Lions Club and worked with the Unity Center Corp president to negotiate a transfer Unity Center fund to the high school that would, in turn, build and operate the pool.

Jim Thorn is a veteran, having joined the Army in 1959 when he was stationed in Seattle. For 32 years, he worked at the Columbia Heights, Minn., Honeywell plant, and it was through the company that he met Ginny.

They married in Rush City in July 1969 and have enjoyed 44 years as husband and wife. They have quite the family, too, with grown children including Debbie, James, Cindy, Laurie, Melanie, Melissa and Matthew, along with 14 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three more great-grandkids on the way.

“I love Rush City; it’s a great place to raise a family and live,” Ginny Thorn said. “You can still know everybody and say hi if you don’t know them. And I believe that it does take a village to raise a child and for everybody to be involved.”

Jim Thorn retired from Honeywell in 1992 and then ran Larry Hemmer Recycling in Rush City from 1993-2007. “I went from working on a desktop to throwing tires and appliances,” he said with a grin.

Jim Thorn enjoys serving people to this day, particularly those in need, as evident through his new volunteering role at the food shelf in Rush City. “I unload the trucks and help distribute the food,” he said. “It’s a good thing to do for people who need it.”

In 1994, Ginny Thorn opened Fabric Fashions and More with a partner, Myrna Hanson, until the partnership amicably dissolved when Ginny Thorn decided to pursue a different direction for the business.

“So I switched to a quilt shop and sold sewing machines,” she said, noting she followed the trend at the time.

For years, it was the only quilt shop between White Bear Lake and Cloquet, and it’s become a place of destination for people who are now regular customers due in large part to its goods, service and exposure on a billboard sign on Interstate 35.

“Not all regular customers come here every day or every week,” Ginny Thorn said. “A husband and his wife stops here every spring and fall on the way up to Duluth where they summer.”

She added, “I don’t have to go to work; I get to go to work, and I like people.”

The Rush City school district has meant a lot to the Thorns.

For Ginny Thorn, who was more involved with the schools when her children were attending, she once sat on the Rush City District Board Advisory and Parent-Teacher Association. She helped organize student activities and even served as a babysitting coach as a certified Red Cross child care instructor.

“Rush City schools always have been an important part of our lives,” Ginny Thorn said. “Jim’s sister graduated from here, our children graduated here and two of our granddaughters are in school now. It’s an awesome school district. They do a wonderful job. The school district has had a big influence on our family. Some day I would like to volunteer again and be more involved at the school.”

In addition, the Thorns for 44 years have been active members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rush City, where they’ve served in multiple capacities for the congregation and community.

From helping out at Rush City schools to Meals on Wheels, Ginny Thorn also has served in many capacities at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she and her husband have been members for 44 years.

She has enjoyed raising money for breast cancer awareness and research, too, through a team she and family members started for the Susan G. Komen Walk for a Cure.

“We walked 60 miles in three days,” she said. “Our team is called Cancer Sucks, and I did it twice. In five years, the team has raised $50,000-plus.”

Bill and Millie Peters received the 2012 Rush City Community Service Award. The first to be awarded was James McGuire in 1972.

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