Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Larry Thonney


September 12, 2019

Larry Thonney

Larry Robert Thonney, son of Walter Thonney and Esther Colard, was born on his grandfather's 1877 homestead between Pullman and Moscow on June 10, 1926, and died on September 4, 2019, in Pullman, Washington.

He was one of the last surviving members of the Pullman High School class of 1944, having been active in the Future Farmers of America chapter associated with vocational agriculture and serving as a state FFA officer. He accepted an agricultural deferment from military service as his family was in the dairy business and produced milk and meat for the local community and college. He took advantage of WSC and Presbyterian Church social events where he met Phyllis Webster. They were married on June 5, 1948, and continued to be very active members of the Presbyterian Church for the next 65 years.

Larry was a dairy and grain farmer until his passion for photography turned into a full-time occupation in 1959. He and Phyllis operated Thonney's Studio, taking portrait, school, wedding, and campus event photographs at both WSU and UI until the early 1990s. He had been an active member of the Pullman Rotary Club and enjoyed fishing, hunting, and watching PHS and WSU sports. In 2005, anticipating state plans to raze the homestead house to construct a divided highway between Pullman and Moscow, Larry and Phyllis purchased a home in Pullman.

Larry was the father of four children: Michael of Ithaca, NY; Sarah Fortin (Eddie) of Mason, N.H .; Steven (Kathy) of Prosser, Wash .; and Janet Adams (Bill) of Pullman. He encouraged their participation on swim teams and in 4-H and FFA. Larry and Phyllis led a 4-H club for many years. Although not a college graduate himself, he was proud that his children all graduated from WSU.

In addition to his children, Larry is survived by grandchildren Amie Fortin and Katie Desmarais (children of Sarah); Joshua Adams, Naomi Adams, Hannah Appelhans, Jedidiah Adams, and Samuel Adams (children of Janet); Elizabeth and Benjamin Thonney (children of Michael); Andrea De Vries, Robert Thonney, and Cheryl Bonny (children of Steven); and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Phyllis, in 2015.

Larry left an oral history of his impressions of Washington State College (University) at https://content.libraries.wsu.edu/digital/collection/wsu_oral/id/1244/rec/150. A private graveside service will be held at the Pullman City Cemetery with a memorial service to follow in October. In lieu of flowers, donations in Larry's memory may be made to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (http://www.bcrfcure.org/), Camp Spalding Christian summer camp and conference center https://campspalding.configio.com/content/Donations, or a favorite charity. Kimball Funeral Home is helping the family with arrangements.


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