James Thornton: A Splendid Life

The Renaissance Founder of Mailing Lists Asia

I received this email a couple of weeks ago.

FROM: Anthony Green
TO: Denny Hatch
DATE: June 17, 2014

Hi Denny,
I am sure you encountered James Thornton of MLA [Mailing Lists Asia] Hong Kong at various DMA events over the years. He certainly remembers you.

James died of cancer a couple of weeks ago. I read the eulogy at his funeral here in Manila where I live. I am not sure if Target Marketing likes to mention such depressing events but if you wanted to I attach a copy of the eulogy I read out at James’s funeral.

All the best.

A Eulogy For James Thornton (1940-2014)
Delivered by Anthony Green at the funeral of James Thornton on May 28, 2014.

We’re here today to say farewell to an amazing individual. A complete eccentric and a perfect English gentleman. A man who has inspired and influenced, in one way or another, most of the people in this room. When I visited James last Friday at Makati Med his doctor, who had looked after him for the last six years, called him a brilliant man and a genius. I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. For James achieved much in his lifetime and was still giving everything he had right up until the last few days when his life was cruelly and painfully taken away by cancer.

James was what I would call a serial entrepreneur. He lived for his businesses. He was an ideas man who was continually pushing the boundaries of convention and looking for new ideas. His business interests were wide and varied. Some might say too wide and too varied. From property portfolios in Bali to Alpaca farms in Chile to hotels in Philippines to direct marketing agencies in Hong Kong and India to astrological newsletters, investment newsletters, list broking, selling luxury luggage, developing innovative healthcare products, and a state-of-the-art biotech company.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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  • Lois Geller

    James Thorton was a real gentleman and a great friend. I called on him over the years for all kinds of “international” direct marketing challenges. He always made time to help me. At Al Goodloe’s Conferences we laughed over the fact that he had at least 3 speeches each time…and I had a 20 minute segment. Al made me practice that segment for hours ahead of time. James just got up and talked away…and had fun.
    I met him for dinner once in Bangkok and he told me about healing his cancer. He did manage to do that for many years. What a great man he was.

  • Peter Rosenwald

    A very fitting tribute to the life of a true gentleman and international direct marketer.

    James and I spent a fair amount of time together when I was building the Wunderman and then Saatchi networks. We shared a love of cultures’ gifts and spent long evenings re-living the pleasures of performances we had attended, books we had read and treasured. As expats, he from the UK and I from the US, we shared the unique experience of being on the outside looking in at our chosen new nations and looking at the countries we had left with the heightened perspective of distance.

    Yes; he and his kind will be sorely missed. An era is coming to an end.

  • Gary Price

    I knew James since the early 1990s. We were long time associates and friends.