Captain Ray was born on October 19, 1946 in his grandparents’ home in East Naples, Florida to the late Capt. Frank and Dorothy Thornton. A true Florida cracker, Ray spent much of his life barefoot and on the water. He began fishing with his father when he was 12 years old and never stopped. He later started his own business as a clam farmer earning him yet another nickname, Clam Man. A true craftsman, Ray could build and replicate anything he laid his eyes on. His specialty was boats. Ray and his father built the famous fishing boat, “Lady T,” in 1978 right on their own property on Davis Blvd. Ray began racing his swamp buggy, Cold Duck #7, in 1978 and took his last lap around the track in March of 2020.
Ray was the pillar of his immediate family, loved and admired by extended family members and a respected friend to many. In the fishing community he is revered as a pioneer, a legend and the Pompano King aboard the Crown Royal. Within the Swamp Buggy family he was a mentor, a leader, the best of friends and the four-cylinder champion. Ray was known by many names but one of his proudest would be that of Papa. He always had room on his recliner for his grand babies and great-grand babies.
He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Janice “Cricket” Thornton and his two brothers, James Thornton and Glen Thornton. He leaves behind four children, Tracy (Stephen) Bell, Tammy Thornton, Tina Thornton and William “Buddy” Thornton along with five grandchildren, William Bell, Jessica (Christopher) Pomar, Robert Martin, Heather (Steve) Gard, Amanda (Michael) Corey; and great-grandchildren Rylan, Lily, Emmalyn, Brynnan, Josie, Madison and another on the way.
A Funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 26, 2021 Summitt Church 15220 Tamiami Trail Naples, FL 34110. From 2:00-4:00 Viewing followed by the Service at 4:00pm.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, June 27, 2021 Florida Sports Park 8520 Rattlesnake Hammock Road Naples, FL 34114. Reception at 1:00pm dinner to follow at 3:00pm.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that you make a donation towards cancer research, or your favorite charity, in his honor.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ray E Thornton, please visit our floral store.