In Memoriam: Former Rockland County Board of Realtors President Bill Thorne

Thorne was the first black elected President of RCBR and was one of the key officials involved in the merger of RCBR and the Orange County Association of Realtors with the Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors.

In Memoriam: Former Rockland County Board of Realtors President Bill Thorne
Bill Thorne (FILE PHOTO)

The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors regrets to inform its membership of the recent passing of former Rockland County Board of Realtors President Guillermo “Bill” Jose Maria Thorne, Sr. at the age of 76.

Thorne was the first black elected President of RCBR and was one of the key officials involved in the merger of RCBR and the Orange County Association of Realtors with the Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors. The three Realtor associations approved the merger in late 2011 and in 2012, upon approval from the National Association of Realtors, the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors officially began operations.

Thorne, along with OCAR CEO Ann Garti, WPAR CEO P. Gilbert Mercurio, Richard Haggerty, Deputy Executive Officer of WPAR, and others, successfully completed the negotiations that led to the formation of HGAR, which has now grown to more than 13,000 members.

In an article in the November 2011 edition of Real Estate In-Depth, after the RCBR membership approved the merger proposal, Thorne said that a continued decline in membership (1,500 in 2007 to more than 800 at the time of the vote) during the housing downturn caused the RCBR Board to tap into its reserves. Unless the membership approved the merger deal, the RCBR Board would have been forced to impose a significant dues increase, he said.

“I am happy with the vote based on the work that we did to bring it to this point. It seems cliché or a no-brainer, but sometimes it is difficult to effectuate change in people’s minds… We need to, as I said in my address, look at ways to survive,” Thorne said. “This association will become the second largest association in the state.” Thorne was in fact prophetic when he told the newspaper that the combined organization would become more powerful in legislative matters in New York State and due to its size “will make us a force to be reckoned with on a national level.”

Bill was born in Colón, Republic of Panama on June 27, 1947, to Joseph W. Thorne and Maxima B. Thorne. He lived in Panama until age 14 and immigrated to New York City with his family in 1961.

Bill attended George Washington High School in Manhattan, and at age 17 he committed to a service career in the United States Marine Corps. He served two tours in Vietnam between 1965 and 1973 and retired from the service as a decorated combat veteran. Upon his retirement, he held the rank of SSGT-E-6.

During his tenure in the Marine Corps, Bill earned many accolades and awards. Following his service in the Marine Corps, Bill continued his education at Marymount Manhattan College. He earned two Bachelor’s degrees in International Business Management and International Economics. After completing his degrees, Bill served as a New York State Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker for more than four decades, before he retired from Weichert, Realtors. He moved to the Atlanta, GA area in 2012.

Bill was a Freemason and a combat veteran who held memberships in several organizations including: Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, The Phylaxis Society, Holy Royal Arch Masons of New York (PH), Tappan Zee Lodge No. 79, F.&A.M. (PH), A.E.A.O.N.M.S. Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Its Jurisdictions, Inc. - Elejmal Temple No. 185, Eureka Grand Chapter of Poinsettia Chapter #76, Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation Northern Jurisdiction U.S.A., Inc. - Pentecost Consistory No. 98, Masonic War Veterans of the -Grand Lodge of New York - Barry R. Cox, Sr. Post No. 57, West Point Chapter No. 13, National Sojourners – Knickerbocker American Lodge of Research, Scottish Rite Research Society, African Lodge No. 459, F. & A. M. - Boston, MA, The Grand Conclave of Chi Rho Fraternity, Inc. (PHA), Military Order of the Purple Heart Association, Buffalo Soldier's Association of West Point, Inc., Major General Irene Trowell-Harris Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Kearsing and Edwards Post 1600 of the American Legion, American Veterans of Foreign Wars Chapter No. 3065, Marine Corps League - Rockland County Detachment, Jewish War Veterans of the State of New York, Vietnam Veterans Chapter 333, Disabled American Veterans - Chapter No. 98, Veterans of Foreign War and the Rotary Club.

Bill was a pillar in his community in New York and Georgia. He was an advocate for educating the youth and committed to building connections within his community. He played an active leadership role at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Spring Valley, NY, by serving as a Vestry Member. He volunteered in various schools in Rockland County, NY, and Gwinnett County, GA, by reading books, mentoring students, and advocating for college-bound high school students.

The Marine Corps motto is “Semper Fidelis,” which translates to “always faithful.” Those who had the pleasure of collaborating with Bill understood that he followed that motto in everything he did.

Bill was a man who believed passionately in standing up for what he believed in, and he encouraged others to do the same. He taught us that each individual has the power to effect change, and his life served as a shining example of this belief. His memory will serve as a beacon, guiding us to always be bold in our convictions and to stand up for our beliefs.

Bill’s character, spirit, and unyielding confidence will be deeply missed. His unforgettable laughter, booming voice, and the lessons he taught will forever reside in our hearts.

Guillermo Thorne, Sr. is predeceased by his mother, Maxima B. Thorne; father, Joseph W. Thorne; nephew, Cecil Foster; and sister, Gloria Foster. He is survived by his wife Rhonda; five children: Erica, Maxima (David), Guillermo, Jr., Drew, and Esther; his brother Rolando (Alda); sister Denise; six grandchildren: Nickolas, Ashdon, David, Jr., Alida, Javier, and Gabriel; three nieces: Sharon, Yolanda (Lamont), and Alexys (Marcus, Sr.); two nephews: Gregory (Yvette) and Christopher (Kiara). Mr. Thorne leaves behind numerous relatives, friends, fraternal brothers, and loved ones to mourn him and preserve his legacy.

A wake will be held on Monday, March 11 from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. at Carl M. Williams Funeral Directors, 492 Larkin St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30313. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, March 12 at 11 a.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 2407 Cascade Rd., SW, Atlanta, GA 30311. The funeral will also be live-streamed via Facebook Live on the Church of the Incarnation (

Real Estate In-Depth

Real Estate In-Depth is the official publication of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

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