Cover photo for Linda Mae (Cowan)  Thornton's Obituary
Linda Mae (Cowan)  Thornton Profile Photo
1937 Linda 2023

Linda Mae (Cowan) Thornton

March 2, 1937 — September 3, 2023



Linda Mae (Cowan) Thornton, age 86, passed away peacefully while in residence at the Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home in Carlisle on Sunday, September 2, 2023.  

Born March 2, 1937 in Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania, she was the oldest daughter of Samuel and Dorothy (Stinson) Cowan.  She spent most of her life in Central Pennsylvania, and was a graduate of Mechanicsburg High School where she played the saxophone for a dance band and studied for the secretarial skills that she used to manage the family business for more than five decades.  

Linda married L. Robert “Bob” Thornton in 1955 after a classic love story plot evolved.  Engaged in high school, Linda sent Bob a “Dear John” letter after he shipped out during the Korean War, then became engaged to someone else.  Immediately upon return from Korea, Bob sought her out, asked her to marry him again and they were inseparable from that moment on.  

Linda’s life was one of distinction not from public awards or accolades, but by her service to others, particularly to her family. She valued a strong work ethic from a young age and helped to care for her siblings when she was still a child herself, and cared for her parents later on their lives.  That tradition of committed work and passionate care provided the foundation for her life’s work.  

Linda and Bob were known for the gift of hospitality, offering their home and their table to so many.  Linda’s dedication to her family was extraordinary, with a focus on care that was unassuming and beautiful.  Her days were a fabric woven together with support of the family business, Solid “R” Construction, care for her husband and children and later in life her grandchildren.  

Linda loved people with food, and she lifted others up with her service and care.  The best memories of her family’s history happened around a table and where she created a space of warmth and care for others in a way that was selfless.  

Linda was an introvert, content to find her happiness behind the scenes.  But she had a quick wit with a sometimes fiery temper, and she was fiercely independent.  She created a home where support and laughter were freely given, where she equipped others to fly, often by sacrificing time or comfort for herself.  

Linda had a strong faith and loved her Lord and Savior fiercely.  She made a public profession of faith in her early 20s, and spent her entire adult life fostering her relationship with her Heavenly Father while equipping her children to do the same.  

Nowhere did her care and love shine more than in her role of grandma, a title she relished, embraced and wholeheartedly committed to.  Time with her four grandchildren made her effervescent.  

While heartbroken by her husband and soul mate’s passing in 2013, Linda created new spaces for herself, spending time with her children in Michigan, Texas, and Maryland before returning to her beloved Pennsylvania.  

Recent years have proven complex for Linda as aging compromised her mobility and cognitive decline became more pronounced.  Even within that complicated space, Linda still deeply loved those around her, making it so very difficult to say goodbye.  

Linda was predeceased by her husband, L. Robert Thornton, in 2013, with whom she is now joyfully reunited in heaven.  She is survived by her children, Ty Robert Thornton of Birmingham, Alabama, Marsha (Thornton) Cobb and, Joe, of Davison, Michigan, Faith (Thornton) Perkins and, Bob, of Asheville, North Carolina and Jonathan Thornton of Dillsburg.  She is also lovingly honored by her grandchildren, Rachel Cobb and Rebekah Cobb, both of Greenville, South Carolina, and Christopher and Samuel Perkins of Asheville, North Carolina.  

 Linda relished her role as older sibling to Joyce Cowan Marshall of New Cumberland, and was predeceased by her brother, Samuel Richard Cowan and her sister Norma Jean (Cowan) Shoppel.  The family would like to express its particular thanks to Joyce Marshall for her loving and constant support for her sister, Linda, particularly during the unique challenges of the pandemic and Linda’s final two years in long-term care.  In addition, the family is deeply grateful to Linda Elaine (Thornton) Fetrow, sister-in-law, for providing a place of comfort and warmth whenever travels allowed a return home.  

Services will be private with immediate family only at Linda’s request.  In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the following organizations, both of which provide remarkable support for aging adults:  The Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home, 1000 West South Street, Carlisle, PA 17013 or Mechanicsburg Area Meals on Wheels, Inc., Box 1093, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055.  

In honoring her life and legacy, Linda’s family would like to offer its encouragement to make discussion of memory care issues more prominent and open.  Decline of cognitive capability does not diminish the lifelong contributions and value of a loved one and we are deeply grateful that our mother recognized her onset of memory issues, asked for help and requested the exceptional care that she received in the last few years from the Sarah A. Todd home.  

Proverbs 31:28 - Her children arise and call her blessed.  

Linda’s family has entrusted her care to Buhrig Funeral Home & Crematory in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421.  Read Linda’s full obituary, view her memorial video and portrait, offer condolences and sympathy, share stories and memories, upload photographs and videos, light a candle and sign her official guest book by visiting  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Linda Mae (Cowan) Thornton, please visit our flower store.


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