SARAH KAY ALFORD THORNHILL
1936 MS – 2001 LA
Tylertown, Walthall Co., MS—_____ May 2001
Funeral services for Dr. Sarah Kay Alford
Thornhill, 64, of Baton Rouge and Tylertown, were May 24, 2001, at Broadmoor
Baptist Church in Baton Rouge..., followed by grave side services at Tylertown
Dr. Thornhill died May 21, at her residence in
She was born Sept. 30, 1936, at Tylertown,
daughter of the late Joseph Hardy and Katherine Kyzar Alford. A brother, William
Kyzar Alford, also preceded her in death.
She is survived by her husband of 43 years, John
W. Thornhill; a daughter and son-in-law, Amy and John Gould of Dallas, Tex.;
one son and daughter-in-law, Gary and Denise Thornhill of Baton Rouge; a
sister, Virginia Knippers of Tylertown; a brother, Joe Alford of Jayess; and
five grandchildren, Katie, Kara and Kristen Gould, and Elyse and Baylie
Dr. Thornhill was the department head of the
Baton Rouge Campus of Southeastern University College of Nursing and Health
Services. She was a Christian and a member of Broadmoor Baptist Church.
“Southeastern has lost a great professional and
friend. She was a role model for faculty and aspiring young nurses. She was
known nationally and internationally as an authority in nursing education. Dr.
Thornhill was scheduled to go to Denmark to make a presentation at the
International Council of Nurses. Kay was even more than a great professional.
She was an extraordinary lady who positively touched thousands of lives.
Southeastern will be forever grateful for her extreme capacity to care for
others. We will miss her beyond words,” Sally Clausen, president, Southeastern
Louisiana University, said.
Dr. Thornhill received her Ph.D. from Louisiana
State University in 1991. She was a 1957 graduate of Gilfoy School of Nursing,
Mississippi Baptist Hospital; received a Bachelor of Science from the
University of Tennessee in nursing in 1974; and a Masters degree in nursing
administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1978. She was
certified by the American Nurse Credentialing Center in Nursing Administration
Advanced, Texas A&M Research Center for Distance Learning, Louisiana Board
of Secondary and Elementary Schools as a Level A Evaluator, and licensed as a Registered
Nurse. She received the Excellence in Leadership Award, Gamma Lambda Chapter,
Sigma Theta Tau International, University of Southern Mississippi in 1996, and
was named Outstanding Professional Achievement, one of 25 nurses, by the Baton
Rouge District Nurses Association in 1994. Since 1995 she was named Program
Evaluator for the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission: National
League for Nursing Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs. In 1989
she was an invited member of Phi Kappa Phi, and in 1974 she was listed in Who’s
Who Among American Colleges and Universities. Dr. Thornhill held membership in
the Louisiana Organization of Nurse Executives, SLU Honor Society of Nursing,
National League for Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Nursing Society,
Phi Kappa Phi, and the American Nurses Association, serving as Baton Rouge
District Nurses Association president from 1997-1999, and two terms as first
Sarah Kay Thornhill—She served as a member of
the Louisiana State Nursing Association Continuing Education Committee, a
member of Louisiana Council of Nurse Educators, a member of the SLU Honor
Society of Nursing, and was an elected member of the Louisiana State Nurses Association
Board of Directors.
She was well known for several presentations,
and had been scheduled to give two presentations in Copenhagen, Denmark, this
month. Among her presentations were “Preparing Graduates for a Professional
Nursing Career,” “A Consortium Model: Distance Learning for Graduate Nursing
Education,” “The Utilization of a Clinical Practice Critical Thinking Process
Model to Improve Professional Nurses Patient Care Interventions and Outcomes,”
and “Clinical Practice Incidences Initiating Critical Thinking Processes.” In
addition to the Denmark presentations, her presentations had been made to
meetings in Nashville, Tenn., Indianapolis, Ind., San Diego, Calif., Baton
Rouge and other locations. She was the author of several manuscripts and publications.
Dr. Thornhill attended many continuing education
programs and was responsible for submitting several grant applications.
Memorial donations may be made to Sarah Kay
Alford Thornhill Nursing Scholarship, Southeastern Development Foundation, SLU 10450,
Hammond, LA 70402.
Pallbearers were nephews, Cletus Alford, Jamie
Alford, Benji Alford, Brad Alford, Kyzar Alford and Gerald Planche.
Burial was in Tylertown Cemetery with Rabenhorst
Funeral Home and Capps Funeral Home in charge.
A tribute to Dr. Kay
By Barbara Lowe, a friend, Sunday School teacher and
colleague in nursing
When I think of Dr. Kay Thornhill, I have a
mental picture of a very gracious lady with many talents. I had the privilege
of getting to know Kay through my Sunday School and Church and through our
professional association-nursing. When asked to share with you some of Kay’s
accomplishments, I spoke with a number of her friends and colleagues who had
the following to say:
- She was an exemplary Professional Nurse who came up
through the ranks, having earned a Diploma in Nursing, a Bachelor of
Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing and a Ph.D. She assumed
many roles through the years including Staff Nurse, faculty member at Our
Lady of the Lake School of Nursing, and at Southeastern Louisiana
University, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor.
She taught both undergraduate and graduate students. In recent years, Kay
moved into administration. She served as Director of the Graduate Program
in Nursing at Southeastern prior to her most recent appointment as
Department Head of Southeastern Louisiana University College of Nursing
and Health Sciences, Baton Rouge Campus.
- Kay was a Visionary-one of the first in the community back
in the early 70’s to recognize the need for nurses to pursue advanced
education that would improve patient care and advance the profession.
- She was an innovative teacher...always saw ways to make
- Kay was very active in her professional organization by
assuming leadership roles. For example, she served as Secretary, Second
Vice President and President of the Baton Rouge District Nurses
- She has distinguished herself by receiving numerous awards
from the University as well as professional Organizations. In 1994 she
received recognition as an Outstanding Nurse, an award presented by peers.
- She was a long-term member of Sigma Theta Tau, National
Honor Society in Nursing.
- Kay was a frequent presenter at local, state, national and
international meetings. She was scheduled to make two poster presentations
in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June 2001; One of these was titled “Clinical
Practice Incidences Triggering Critical Thinking Processes: What Nurses
Experience.” The second was “A Consortium Education Model: Distance
Learning Initiative for Graduate Nursing Education.”
- She was also involved in writing grant proposals and was
successful in obtaining funding to accomplish things like Distance
Learning for Graduate Nurses in the state and region.
- Kay is also remembered for her appreciation of history. It
is said that her appreciation of the past helped with her acquisition of a
Commemorative Nursing Art Collection that will be enjoyed by many for
years to come at Southeastern Louisiana University, College of Nursing.
Perhaps this appreciation for the past helped her to be the visionary that
she was. She frequently reminded the faculty to “Look at the Big Picture.”
Through her leadership role and innovation, she guided the faculty in
developing a new curriculum.
- She was a respected evaluator with the National League for
Nursing Accrediting Commission. In this role she participated in the
evaluation of the quality of education in other nursing programs
throughout the country.
In summary, she was described as the Epitome of
Professionalism...a very caring person...a mentor for many over the past
several years. So while we grieve at our loss, it is comforting to me to
visualize Kay in her new home.
Photos from Tylertown
Cemetery, Tylertown, Walthall Co., MS—www.findagrave.com
granted by the photographer, Terry Stinson
NOTES: SSDI records confirm the birth and death dates Sarah A.
Thornhill (SS# issued in MS), last residence not listed.
We included the obituaries of her brothers
Joseph Hardie Alford Jr. and William Kyzar Alford; and aunt Letha Alford Sims
in Mississippi Obituaries.
Sarah Kay Alford’s
grandparents, Thomas L. Alford and Lillie Rushing, were married in Pike Co.,
MS, on 15 Dec 1898. [Mississippi Marriages, 1776–1935 (Ancestry.com)]
Alford was born 15 Dec 1870 in Pike Co., MS, and died there on 28 July 1910;
Lillie died on 6 July 1915 in Walthall Co., MS. [Ancestry.com and
In 1900 the family is
listed in Beat 2, Pike Co., MS, dwelling #169: Thomas L. Alford, no occupation,
age 29 b. Dec 1870, m. 2 years; his wife Lillie E. 22 b. Nov 1877, 1 child, 1
living; son Auther L. age 0 b. Sept 1899; and mother Statia P. Alford 65 widow
b. June 1835. All and their parents were born in MS. Nearby are several Rushing
In 1910 they are still
in Beat 2, Pike Co., dwelling #52: Tom Alford, farmer age 39, m. 11 years; his
wife Lillie 32, 5 children, 4 living; 4 children including Letha 5; and mother
Scirtia 74 widow. All and their parents were born in MS. Again, several Rushing
families are nearby.
In 1920 Tom and Lillie
Alford are deceased, so the children are living together in Beat 4, Walthall
Co., MS, dwelling #11: Author Alford, farmer age 20; his brother Hardy 19; and
sisters Lucy 17 and Letha 15. All and their parents were b. in MS.
In 1920 Statira
Alford, widow age 84 b. MS, is living with the family of her son B.F. Brumfield
in Tylertown, Walthall Co., MS.
AAFA records show
Thomas’s mother as Statira Lennon. In 1850 she is age 15, living with her
probable mother, Lucinda Lennon, in Pike Co., MS.
In 1860 they are still
Pike Co., but Statira must have married a Brumfield shortly after the 1850
census: Statira P. Brumfield, 25; Benjamin F. 8; Joseph J. 5; and Lucinda
Lennon 46. All were b. in MS.
In 1870 this same
family group in still in Pike Co., but Statira is now Statira Alford, married
In 1880 they are still
in Pike Co.: Statira P. Allford, age 45 widow; son _____ Brumfield 25; and son
Thomas L. Allford 9. All and their parents were b. in MS.
AAFA’s source of
Statira’s marriage to Sebastian is from a Ginn family book that says:
“Sebastian Alford, son of Eveline Ginn and William Alford, b ca 1830, known as
“Bass” and informants recall that he operated a watch repair shop in McComb, m.
(1) Rosalene D. Williams b. Jan 14, 1847, and had 2 ch. m. (2) Mrs. Stayra
Leonard Brumfield, and she had two sons by a former marriage.”
She is listed in the
Walthall Co., MS published cemetery book as Statira L. Brumfield Alford
1835-1918. However, Statira is living in 1920, listed on the census with her
son Benjamin. The cemetery book also has: “Mother of Statira L. Brumfield
Alford” with no dates. Her sons Thomas Lafayette Alford and Benjamin F.
Brumfield are also buried in the cemetery.
information on this family, see Descendants
of Jacob Alford, b. 1761 NC.
Kay’s lineage: Sarah Kay 1936 MS1,
Joseph Hardie 1901 MS2, Thomas Lafayette 1870 MS3,
Sebastian 1831 MS4, William 1804 GA5, Jacob 1761 NC6,
Julius 1717 VA7, James 1687 VA8, John 1645 VA9.