Donald Romaine Thorner 
Location served:
Years in Practice:
1952 to 1999
Area of Specialization:
Family Medicine  


Dr. Donald Romaine Thorner was born in Sarnia, Ontario on the 1st of March, 1929.  Dr. Thorner was the eldest of 3 children born to Romaine Oren Thorner and the former Edythe Marie Fraser.  According to the 1931 census, the Thorner family resided at 206 Wellington Street in Wallaceburg, Ontario.  His father worked as a tool maker at the brass factory and his siblings were;  Lorne Thorner and Ruth Thorner.  Dr. Thorner attended D. A. Gordon Public School and Wallaceburg District High School. His mother was a nurse and perhaps she influenced her son’s decision to enter medical school.  His brother Lorne, also became a physician.

Dr. Donald Thorner graduated M.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 1952.

Dr. Thorner married Helen Isabelle Laing in Wallaceburg on the 26th of August, 1952.  Mrs. Thorner was born on the 20th of September, 1929.  She was the 3rd of 5 children born to William Thomas Laing and the former Mignon Leone Petrie. According to the 1931 census, the Laing family resided at 630 Elgin Street (in Wallaceburg).  Her father was the principal of Wallaceburg District Secondary School from 1934 until 1950.  He was promoted to be an Inspector within the school board and eventually served as the Assistant Superintendent of secondary school’s in Ontario.  Her siblings were; Evelyn, Margaret, William and Robert

After their marriage Mrs. Thorner resumed her studies at the University of Western Ontario and Dr. Thorner returned to London to complete his internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London.  Mrs. Thorner graduated B.Scn in 1953.

Dr. Thorner returned to his hometown of Wallaceburg and opened a medical practice.  Dr. and Mrs. Thorner had two sons, Alan and William and 2 daughters, Alison and Erin.

Dr. Thorner enjoyed boating, fishing and curling, while he lived in Wallaceburg.  Together with his medical partner Dr. Ronald  Brooksbank, Dr. Thorner set up the first answering service in Wallaceburg for the physicians of the town where they took turns being on call after 6:00 p.m.  Dr. Thorner was the Chief of Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat when the Sydenham District Hospital opened in Wallaceburg in 1957.  He was the President of the Kent County Medical Society in 1971.  According to the 1975 Vernons Town of Wallaceburg Business Directory, his medical office was located at 214 Margaret Avenue.

Dr. Thorner moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1978.  He opened the Chattanooga Family Practice, located at 929 Springcreek Road with Dr. Ronald Brooksbank.  The medical practice grew significantly with both American and Canadian physicians joining and expanding the family practice group.  Dr. Thorner retired in 1999.

Dr. Thorner enjoyed golfing in his retirement.

Dr Thorner died in Chatham on the 18th of July, 2007. He was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tenessee.  At the time of his death he was married to Janet.

Mrs. Helen Isabelle (Laing) Thorner died at St Thomas Elgin General Hospital on the 9th of July, 2021.  She was buried at Elmdale Cemetery in St Thomas.

Photo courtesy of the Western University Library.

*Dr. Ronald Brooksbank also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.