Cover photo for John Mitchell Thornton's Obituary
John Mitchell Thornton Profile Photo

John Mitchell Thornton

January 10, 1949 — September 23, 2023

Hot Springs

John Mitchell Thornton



John Mitchell Thornton, age 74, of Hot Springs, passed away on Saturday, September 23, 2023.

He was born on January 10, 1949, in Hot Springs, the son of John Milton Thornton and Martha Wilburn Baker Thornton.  He was preceded in death by his parents. 

John was a 1972 Arkansas Tech University graduate, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Minor in Math.  Upon graduation from Arkansas Tech, John was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army.  He attended officer basic training and upon completion returned home and joined Company A, 489th Combat Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve.  Following completion of service as Company commander and serving with the 489th Battalion, he joined the 122nd ARCOM division as a Major and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before leaving his 20-year military career.

John began his survey career in 1974 and became a licensed Professional Surveyor in 1979.  He maintained continuous licensure until his retirement in 2019.  During his years of Professional Surveying, he spent 34 years at B & F Engineering, Inc. in Hot Springs and the last six years as Branch Survey Manager with Garver, LLC.

He was a member of the Arkansas Society of Professional Surveyors throughout his career.  He served as chairman of several committees, was on the Board of Directors, and served as President 1990-1991.   He was also an associate member of the Arkansas Floodplain Management Association. John was proud to have been selected as the Arkansas State Surveyor in January of 2016 and held that position until his retirement at the end of 2019.

He was active in many civic and community organizations.  John was an Eagle Scout, a 32nd Degree Mason, past master of Hot Springs Masonic Lodge 62, and a Shriner.  He served on the Board of Directors of Arc Isle for over 25 years, serving as President for 20 years.

He is survived by his loving wife, Debbie Thornton; three sons, Jeff (Shelley) Thornton, Josh Thornton and Andy (Amber) Ragsdale, one daughter, Christina Collins; his identical twin brother, Jim (Penny) Thornton; six grandchildren; two nephews; and many cherished cousins; and a host of wonderful friends.

Funeral services will be 11:00AM, Friday, September 29, 2023, in the Smith Family Funeral Home Chapel, Hot Springs.  Visitation will be 6:00PM-8:00PM, Thursday, September 28, 2023, at the funeral home.

Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery with full military honors by the U.S. Army Honor Guard.

The family would like to express a special thank you to The Caring Place and Dierksen Hospice for providing such wonderful care for John.  A very special thank you to Melinda Ragsdale and Daniele Soto for all the love, care and joy you gave to John over the last several years.

Memorial may be made to The Caring Place, 101 Quapaw Avenue, Hot Springs, AR  71901.

Guest registry is at

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Past Services


Thursday, September 28, 2023

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Smith Family Funeral Home - Hot Springs

2205 Airport Road, Hot Springs, AR 71913

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, September 29, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Smith Family Funeral Home - Hot Springs

2205 Airport Road, Hot Springs, AR 71913

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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