Thornton Fay, Sr.

Graveside Service

1:00 pm
Friday, September 22, 2023
State Veterans Cemetery
317 Bow Lane
Middletown, Connecticut, United States

Obituary of Thornton Joseph Fay, Sr.

Thornton Joseph Fay, Sr., (Joe) 88, of Leesburg, Florida and East Hartford, Connecticut passed away Wednesday, August 23, 2023 surrounded by his loving family. Born on March 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Rowayton, Connecticut, Joe was the third of four sons born to Francis X. Fay, Sr. and Margaret Ann Thornton Fay.

After attending elementary and middle school in Rowayton, Joe headed to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire where he was a three-season varsity athlete; lettering in football, basketball, and baseball. Upon graduating KUA, Joe headed to Colgate University where he flourished while still playing football, basketball and baseball. In his junior year, during the Korean Conflict, Joe paused his education to serve his country. Joe enlisted and served in the Army state-side, in Louisiana and Texas, as a MP. Completing his service, he returned home to Connecticut where he soon met the love of his life, his wife of 59 years, Ginger.

After marrying Ginger, Joe completed his education at the University of Connecticut, earning a degree in Business and Marketing. Shortly after graduation, Joe accepted a job in the purchasing department at Pratt & Whitney. Joe and Ginger settled in East Hartford where they raised their family. Following his time at Pratt, Joe moved on to Gerber Scientific, Inc. where he became Materials and Plant Manager, retiring in 1990. A few years later, Joe started consulting, working in purchasing at Fuel Cells and finally ending his career as part of the purchasing team at Honeywell. 

From the time he moved to East Hartford, Joe was an active member of the community; coaching and mentoring young players through the town’s Little League baseball program and helping out with his son’s Boy Scout troop. Proud of his Irish heritage, Joe often volunteered with Ginger at the Irish American Home Society, where he was a lifetime member.

Whether you called him Thornton, Joseph, Joey, Joe, T. J., Chief, Captain, Coach, or just Dad, Pops, or Poppy; to know him was to love him.

Joe will forever be known for his gift of gab, quick wit, and storytelling that filled the room with laughter. Joe will be fondly remembered for his trademark whistle and encyclopedic knowledge of sports players and statistics. He was a loyal fan of the UCONN Women’s Basketball team, Los Angeles Dodgers, Hartford Whalers, and New York Giants. Whether attending a game with him or watching along from home, Joe made the experience fun and memorable. 

Although Joe enjoyed spending time golfing, sailing, and taking road trips with Ginger, his favorite place was home in the garden. Joe spent countless hours creating beautiful spaces at each of his homes for all to enjoy.

Joe’s family and friends will miss him terribly. He is survived by his four children and eight grandchildren. Mary Fay and Mary Smith of West Hartford, CT, Margaret and Stuart Craig of South Glastonbury, CT, Thornton Fay, Jr. and Susan Fay of Madison, CT, and Kathleen and Michael Zilahy of Glastonbury and his grandchildren John Craig, Christopher Craig, Mia Zilahy, Alexandra Zilahy, Jake Fay, Kelly Fay, Alanna Fay and Kathleen Fay-Smith. He is also survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law, Thomas and Alice Fay of Manhattan Beach, California, Gerard and Christine Fay of Ellicott City, Maryland, Kathleen Bamberg of Revere, MA and a niece and many nephews. He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Ginger and brother, Francis X. Fay Jr.

The family would like to thank the staff of Caleb-Hitchcock at Duncaster in Bloomfield, CT for their compassionate care of our father these last few months. Also, thanks are extended to the staff of Masonicare Hospice. Finally, we’d like to extend thanks to our special family friend, Lori Massi. We are grateful for the comfort and support you all offered our dad and family.

A Graveside service and burial will take place on Friday, September 22, at 1:00 PM at the Connecticut State Veteran’s Cemetery, 317 Bow Lane, Middletown, CT. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, 2361 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10306 or a Veteran’s organization of your choice. For online condolences, please visit

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