Former DMR Commissioner Dies

Gareth David Thorne passed away quietly November 30, 2009 at his home in Arizona at age 87. Gary, as he was known to his family, friends, and co-workers was born on September 10, 1922 in Denver, Colorado. Gary's professional career was devoted to serving people with intellectual disabilities. Prior to his appointment as Connecticut's first Commissioner of the Department of Mental Retardation—DMR, (now the Department of Developmental Services-DDS), Gary held positions in North Carolina, Arizona and Washington State. In 1971, after serving three years as the Superintendent of Rainer State School in Buckley, Washington, Gary relocated to Connecticut to become Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) in the Department of Public Health. In July 1975, the OMR became the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR), its own agency independent of the Department of Public Health. Gary was appointed Commissioner of DMR a position he held until his retirement in 1984. His tenure as DMR Commissioner was marked by growth in the regional center concept and newly emerging community based services.

In retirement, Gary and his wife, Shirley spent years commuting between Connecticut and Arizona, eventually becoming full-time residents of Arizona in 1995. While in Arizona, Gary spent many years as a member of the Arizona Rail Passengers Association serving as a member of the board for several years. He enjoyed his hobbies of model railroading, playing piano, and writing. He is survived by Shirley, his wife of 42 years, his brother, sons, step-sons, step-daughter, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Private services will be held at a future date at Fort Logan in Denver, Colorado. 

Excerpts taken from the Hartford Courant death notice—December  6, 2009