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Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


Itasker F. Thornton 1915-1977

I want to take this opportunity to wish all the Moms and the Moms-to-be a very Happy Mother’s Day.  I have delivered 5,542 babies as an obstetrician over the past 40 years and I can’t imagine a better specialty in medicine to practice.  My life has been to share the joy of so many couples who have started a new chapter in their lives by starting a family.

My mother, Itasker Frances Edmonds Thornton, died in 1977 at 61 years of age.  She was too young to die, but she raised five daughters (with the addition of our foster sister, Betty) and encouraged us to be the best.  We started out living in the housing projects of New Jersey. However, my Dad built our home in Long Branch, New Jersey with my Mom serving as his hod carrier in order for me and my sisters to go to a better school and have a chance at succeeding in life.  As teenagers, our mom was the bass player in our all-girl family R&B band known as “The Thornton Sisters”.  We went on to win six consecutive weeks in the Amateur Night contest held at the famed Apollo Theatre, recorded for Atlantic Records and performed at the Brooklyn Fox with Murray the K and his Swingin’ Soireé.   Watch Your Step

My Mom: Top Row - third from the left next to me with the sax

My mom had three years of college at Bluefield State Teachers College back in the 1940s, but the credits were not accepted in the northern colleges when she left West Virginia to come to New York City.  My mother always regretted not getting her college diploma and, I believe, she was the true driving force behind all of her daughters excelling in academics.

Although she had to leave college without a diploma, working with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, I secured her that elusive “sheepskin” and, in 2005, she was posthumously awarded a Doctorate of Humanities from Bluefield State College.  On her diploma it states: “She dared to dream great things and, through those whose lives she touched, great things were achieved.”

Her daughters, with her love and guidance, became successful, independent and accomplished women: an obstetrician, a psychiatrist, a prosthodontic oral surgeon, a Ph. D. and an attorney.  Mom, all I can say is “thank you” for your love and your vision.  I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am if it weren’t for you.  May you rest in peace.  I love you.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.

A blast from my past

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Those who read my first book, The Ditchdigger’s Daughters, know that my parents, a blue-collar laborer and a domestic, valued education above all. They knew it was the way to a better life for their daughters.

But how did they find the money to put five girls through college, with four of us going on to get advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry and law?

We spent our weekends touring as The Thornton Sisters, playing for college dances, appearing at the Apollo, and recording records.

I’m writing the above because I just discovered that, 44 years after we recorded it, an old Thornton Sisters record is playing on YouTube.  Who would have thought it?

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH