Charles E. Thornton

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Charles E. Thornton

Charles E. Thornton

“Charles Thornton may best be described as a ‘leader’s leader’ for he has consistently been able to assemble and direct the top leadership talent in the many positions of responsibility that he has undertaken.”
Robert LaFortune, 1984


Native Oklahoman Charles E. Thornton graduated from Tulsa’s Central High School and attended Officers Candidate School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was commissioned as second lieutenant at the age of 18. He served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an artillery officer during World War II. At that time he was the youngest officer to serve in the engineering corps. Following the war, in 1949, he graduated from Tulsa University’s School of Engineering. Starting with Gulf Oil Company, Mr. Thornton eventually went to work for Reading and Bates Drilling Company, Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of Reading and Bates, Inc. He helped in the formation of Reading and Bates Offshore Drilling Company and in 1967 was named president of that company. He was also involved in numerous civic organizations, including the Canadian Drilling Contractors, the United Way, and the Philharmonic Society.

Fun fact

Mr. Thornton personally raised over $4 million for the construction of a new wing at Tulsa’s famed Gilcrease Art Museum, and Tulsa’s East Side YMCA was renamed the “Thornton Family YMCA” in his honor.

Oklahoma connections

Thornton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.









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