Her service to city and to Democrats ran deep
by: , Jill Thorn

The city of West Linn and Democrats across the nation lost a political leader and activist on Friday. Former West Linn Mayor Jill Elaine Thorn died at the age of 68.

Thorn had a rich and diverse history in local and state politics.

'Politics has been in Jill Thorn's blood since listening to the nominating conventions of Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower! While only 7 years old, she was hooked and wanted to be involved in politics,' states her website,

Her husband, Bob Thorn, said she was raised by parents who were deeply involved in the community and politics.

'She knew how to run meetings as a kid,' he said.

After getting married in 1974, the Thorns moved to West Linn in 1976 from Virginia and worked together for 20 years at their computer software consulting company.

Interested in gaining support for local businesses, Jill Thorn started attending city council meetings, sitting in the back and watching the proceedings.

Soon enough, she was sitting at the front of the room, participating and eventually running the meetings and the city.

She served on the West Linn City Council from 1985 to 1988 and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1988.

She was then appointed to a vacant city council seat in spring of 1990 and was elected to the position that November.

She was appointed as mayor in 1993, when Bob Liddell resigned for health reasons. She was then elected mayor in 1994 and re-elected in 1996.

"It is with great sadness that I heard of Mayor Thorn's death," West Linn Mayor John Kovash said. "She brought professionalism and pride to the mayor's office, and I will strive to emulate that in her memory. She worked to make West Linn a better place."

In 2000, Thorn ran against state Rep. Jerry Krummel and lost.

She then started working behind the scenes. She was the chairwoman of the Clackamas County Democrats from 2000 to 2012 and had served as vice chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Clackamas County since 2008.

Democratic Party of Oregon Chairwoman Meredith Wood Smith said, 'Jill exemplified what it is to be an active and engaged citizen. She led with quiet strength and heartfelt convictions. The entire Democratic Party, Clackamas County and the community of West Linn will miss Jill's leadership and participation.'

A few of her local accomplishments include getting West Linn to record and televise city council and planning commission meetings thanks to her hobby as a TV producer, as well as the construction of the current city hall.

But she was mostly known for her calm demeanor.

'Nobody in Oregon could run a meeting as smooth and non-confrontational (as) she,' said Bob Thorn. 'She was unflappable. You would never see which way she was going to vote.'

Jill Thorn was also active in the community. She was involved in many local groups, including the West Linn High School Booster Club, the chamber of commerce and the Old Time Fair, formerly known as the Old Fashioned Fair. She was also a member of the West Linn Lions Club.

She worked in the city of Canby's planning department from 2005 to 2011, when she retired. She also was a computer programmer for McKay Computer Services in Lake Oswego from 2001 to 2003.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Richard Griffie and Virginia Mayes, and sister, Linda Carpenter.

She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Bob Thorn, and sons Jason Thorn; Richard Rankin of Cary, N.C.; Robert Thorn of Portland; and Chris Thorn of Portland.

Services were held Wednesday at Zion Memorial Park Cemetery in Canby. A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the West Linn Adult Community Center, located at 1180 Rosemont Road.

Remembrances may be donated to the American Cancer Society at or by calling 1-800-237-2345.

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