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Memorial Service Report & Eulogy

January 16, 2011

Hi everyone. Debbie here again. I still haven’t figured out how to change this over so my name shows instead of Jills. I guess it’s not really important. I wanted to share that Jill’s service was awesome yesterday. We had a time of worship music, a Eulogy that I read, my friend Keven Snyder sang Jill’s favorite hymn (Blessed Assurance), the pastor spoke briefly, then we opened it up for rememberances from the crowd. There were about 120 people there and quite few spoke. It was a wonderful time of remembering a wonderful person. I found it very uplifting and left praising God for giving me the honor of being related to such a great person.

Thanks to folks at the FAA for sending the beautiful yellow roses. Also thanks to FAMS for the beautiful flowers that you sent.

The family has set up a website that has lots of photos of Jill and a place for you to add memories. (Please see Kim’s comment below for additional information about this site)

I’m going to add the Eulogy I read here, so those of you that couldn’t be there can enjoy it also.  (Note: I realized last night that I neglected to mention my brothers, Mark & Scott in this Eulogy. I guess I was just very focused on Jill. Both boys are pretty amazing people and they both loved Jill a lot)

Jill Aline Thorson was born on June 27, 1959 in Phoenix, Arizona, the 3rd of 3 daughters. Her older sisters Debbie and Kim were 2-1/2 and 1-1/2 – so we all grew up very close in age. Jill was a cute and cuddly kid who had a knack for causing trouble and making sure her sisters got blamed for her indiscretions. I remember one dinnertime (when no adults were looking) wathching her knock over an entire carton of milk. Her screams then brought my mom running. Jill put up quite a fuss, blaming Kim and I for this incident. Cute and cuddly won out when my mom wouldn’t believe that little Jill could have possibly knocked over that carton by herself. So Kim and I were punished.

We attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help grade school in Scottsdale, Arizona. My mother spend a lot of time making sure all of use looked tidy and well put together in our school uniforms. Usually by the time Jill got to school she looked like she had been through several hurricanes and a dust storm. There were frequent notes sent home from the teacher complaining about Jill’s appearance. She didn’t really have to do anything to get messy, it just sort of happened. Thankfully she outgrew this.

In 1966 the family moved from Scottsdale to Seattle. We moved into a house by the airport on Jill’s 7th birthday. In the midst of unpacking boxes and moving furniture, we somehow managed to have a nice party for her. Jill finished up grade school at St. Francis Catholic School and Sunnydale Elementary. Junior High was a Sunset. After enduring years of being known as Debbie and Kim’s sister in school, Jill made the choice to attend Glacier High School rather than Highline. This turned out to be a good move for her – no one knew her sisters and she ended up being the valedictorian for the class of 1977.

A few little known facts about Jill. She played Trumpet and French Horn in band through Jr. High and High School. She was also a outstanding classical guitarist and even taught guitar for awhile. Jill demonstrated a great sense of humor and talent for writing at an early age. She was brilliant at changing song lyrics – like “Strangers in the Night, sneak up behind you…” and “While Shepherds washed their socks…”. This was Kim’s favorite (sung to the tune of Fascination) “It was Rinsey Soap I know, that made my body so dirt wouldn’t show. It was Rinsey Soap that made him propose…”

In the early 1980’s I received a phone call from Jill. She said “Are you sitting down?” So I sat. She told me she had accepted Christ as her personal Savior. That was one of the best and most special conversations I ever had with her. Later in the 1980’s Jill met the love of her life, Hank Byington. Here’s how. (These are Jill’s words from an article printed in Guidepost’s magazine in February 1993)


Games and heartbreak. That’s what dating seemed like to me, and I wasn’t playing along anymore. I give up, Lord, I prayed one night. If you want me to marry someone, you’re going to have to drop him in my lap.

Six months later, on a church trip to give a presentation, I squeezed into a small car with several other members of the congregation. “The band’s bus broke,” the pastor informed us at the last minute. “We’re going to have to fit more people in the cars.”

Not in this one, I thought. We were already packed in like sardines. There was a knock on my window. It was Hank, the drummer, smiling uncertainly into the back seat. I rolled down the window. “There’s no room in here, ” I said “Unless you want to sit on my lap.”

Hank grinned. “Let’s switch,” he suggested. “You sit on my lap instead.”

And Hank and I got married one year after that trip.

Jill and Hank married on April 16, 1988. At that time both of them were working for Boeing as technical writers. Jill completed college and got her degree in Technical Writing from the University of Washington in 1990. She also began to do a lot of freelance writing. In 1994 Jill and Hank were excited to find out that they were expecting and on October 27th of that year, Daniel was born. Jill quit working to become a full time mom. (The following is excerpted from an article Jill wrote for a Mom’s magazine. published in 1996. The article is titled Nobody Told Me)

Ever since I gave birth to my son, my brain has undergone a drastic change.

That’s the first thing nobody told me about motherhood; that from the instant I gave birth, I would be eternally preoccupied. The direct effect of this change is that I will never again be able to find my care keys unless, or course, they are in my son’s mouth. This loss of concentration comes at an unfortunate time -I need a fully functioning brain now more than ever.

That’s another thing nobody told me; that staying at home to raise my son would be the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. After years of work in high-tech industries I was accustomed to the relentless, grinding predictablity of most technical jobs. In contrast, being a mother is always surprising. Every child is a new gift to the world, capable of changing by the moment, as unpredictable as a summer storm. The little boy who spits up my shoulder has a brain far more complex than any super-computer. He has more value than all the accrued technical advances of the centuries. He is an awesome responsibility, and I hold him in my hands.

Shortly after Daniel’s birth, Jill discovered cyberspace. She joined an on-line mom’s group called FAMS – Forum Addicted Mothers. She kept in contact with these women from all over the world for 15 years. Most of them she never met. (Thanks ladies for the 11 pages of tribute to Jill!)

Jill decided to go back to work full time and started working for the FAA sometime in the early part of this century (I’m not sure of the exact date). Guess what, Jill was a technical writer and editor of the FAA’s on-line newsletter. (Jill’s boss told us yesterday that the next edition of the newsletter will be dedicated to Jill.)

Jill’s first cancer diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer, came in the summer of 2004. At that time she went through 6 months of chemotherapy and her cancer went away.

After this first bout of cancer, Jill went back to work for the FAA and in 2006 began teaching writing for “Scholars On-Line”, a Christian home-schooling site. She taught for 3 years. She loved teaching, she loved her students and they loved her.

Jill’s cancer came back with a vengeance in July of 2009, almost 5 years to the day after her first diagnosis. This time the breast cancer spread to her lungs, bone and brain. After being encouraged by many friends, she decided to start a blog, so JillsBlahBlahBlog was born. Since the first entry on August 9, 2009, there have been 37, 309 visitors from 84 different countries. We all got a perspective on cancer and its treatment from this blog. It was real and honest; it also made us laugh and cry. We learned that Jill hated pink and Breast Cancer awareness month (October) just annoyed her. Jill also hated being called brave. In fact she said in her blog, “My latest pet peeve is the people who keep calling me ‘brave.” Ha! Brave would be stepping out in front of a car to rescue someone. Brave is when you have a choice. My only choice is to go through crappy treatments or jump off a building. How is that brave?”

Jill won many battles with her cancer, but on December 8, 2010, cancer ultimately won the war. The good news – Jill is enjoying a cancer free existence in heaven and we all have the opportunity to see her again. Maybe Jill wasn’t brave, but it does take courage to share feelings and issues as openly as she did.

I ended with reading one of Jill’s blog entries from May 2010, The Transient Beauty of Everyday Life. I think this says more about the way Jill chose to live her life more than anything she has written.

So there you have it. I’m still working on the PayPal thing for those of you that want to donate. I hope to have that resolved this week. I enjoyed putting some names with faces yesterday. Please feel free to keep in contact. I will keep the blog going for a little while. Thanks again for all your support and prayers.

Debbie (on behalf of Jill’s mom (Gail), and Kim, Mark & Scott)


16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2011 3:37 pm

    Not a day goes by when Jill isn’t in my thoughts..

  2. Murray permalink
    January 16, 2011 4:02 pm

    Same here. I think of her everyday. She inspired my son, Justin, to love writing – his ambition (now a sophomore in college) is to be a writer. Jill was wonderfully special.

    I was wondering about the Paypal thing. Please let us know if you get it worked out.

    Blessings to you all. – Maria

  3. January 16, 2011 4:27 pm

    Thank you isn’t powerful enough to explain how grateful I am for the eulogy Debbie wrote and delivered. It was perfect. And thank you to everyone in attendance who put money in a basket to help Hank and Daniel, which was a way to start things going before PayPal is working. Mark & Scott, thank you for being my brothers, and for keeping the computers going so people could sign the guest book. The site will be up forever. I’ll add the eulogy there, too. As you’re able, go to the tributes & condolences tab and write anything you wish. There’s also a fun tab called “Memorial Candles”. Pop in there anytime you want and add a little blurb. It’s more like a “tweet” area. Just put what’s on your mind. I will be having more time (now that our software conversion at work is done) to finish adding photos. I can put up to 300 on the site, and only have uploaded 70 so far. If you have anything you want to send to me, there is a tab for contacting me on the memory-of site. Jill emailed me a week before she passed away, saying, “Having a hard time sleeping, but lots of emails to read, which is nice. There’s always someone up close and personal out there and that makes me feel covered and loved no matter what.” She felt your love even if you were far away. Thank you SO much for that!

  4. Bemused Boomer permalink
    January 16, 2011 9:09 pm

    Debbie, I think Jill would have liked your eulogy very much. Beautifully done, with excerpts that really capture Jill’ spirit.

  5. January 17, 2011 5:43 am

    Thanks for sharing the Eulogy with us. We miss her, too.

  6. Barbara Austin permalink
    January 17, 2011 10:22 am

    Thank you Debbie, it WAS a beautiful memorial and was so wonderful to see how many she affected during her life here, and that wasn’t even a dent in all she apprently affected. It was nice to meet the rest of family. The comments about her were even further inciteful to the wonderful and loved person she is.

  7. E Lis permalink
    January 17, 2011 10:52 am

    I miss Jill everday even though we only sometimes saw one another through the last few years of her life. Thank you for sharing. The eulogy is beautiful and I will hold you all in my hearts.

    She was one of the few who was there for me as my son was diagnosed with Autism and my engagement ended. Jill always had a laugh and a hug to share. I met her on the FAMS site and we also became friends in real life when I lived in the Seattle area (which continued on even after I moved to the “other” part of the state, i.e. Eastern WA).

    With love, Lisa E.

  8. Babs permalink
    January 17, 2011 12:15 pm

    While reading the eulogy, I found myself smiling. Its nice to smile again.

    Jill……thank you for helping me to always find my smile.

  9. Ellen permalink
    March 8, 2011 4:46 pm


    I don’t know if anyone is checking Jill’s blog, but I just wanted to come here, on the 3 month anniversary of when we all said our tearful goodbyes to you, to say that I miss you, Jill.

    I wonder how your family is coping. I am sure that they are missing you, terribly but I am sure that your are keeping a close eye on them, in a heavenly kind of way.

    Okay, now I’m sounding like a crazy woman. But it’s not like I haven’t been called that before.

    Your friend,

  10. Ellen permalink
    March 17, 2011 5:07 pm

    Hi Kim! I would be happy to light a candle and leave a tribute. I will pass that url along to the FAMS and let them know that you are still checking Jill’s blog.

    Love to you all,

  11. March 27, 2011 12:53 am

    Thinking of Jill alot today… praying for hubby and son…

    • March 28, 2011 2:28 pm

      Thank you. We saw Hank on Saturday and it was good to hear him talk about Jill and her sense of humor and sense of style. 🙂

  12. April 30, 2011 1:53 am

    Thinking of Jill today. . .

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