James Thornton: A Splendid Life
And there are many similar stories of chance meetings with James that have changed people’s lives. There are many in this room, myself included, who would not be living here in Manila if it weren’t for James. Because we all liked him for who he was. Open, honest, fun, generous, interesting, sociable. And we all wanted to follow him and spend time in his company.
James went on to become a leading figure in the world of Direct Marketing. One commentator called him “a legend, a pioneer, an educator — and one hell of a gentleman”.
He was a highly sought-after speaker at conferences in the US. He was a good speaker. I’ve seen him charm audiences of thousands of delegates. His achievements in this field were officially recognized a few years ago when he received the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from International Council of the Direct Marketing Association.
“For which of your particular achievements are you being recognized”, I teased him. He just smiled. The award meant a lot to him. It was a fitting recognition of the immense contribution he made in the field of direct marketing. He will be greatly missed by the dozens of good friends he made in this business in the US and around the world.
In more recent years, in his quest for new challenges, James has focused his energies on the healthcare industry developing a number of innovative new products, some of which are in daily use today, in this country and overseas. He always saw his work and investments in this field as purely philanthropic - as if he wanted to give something back to society. Alas, many of these have required long-term commitments and they remain one of his few unfulfilled ambitions.
I have often thought that if fate had not turned James into a Direct Marketing guru, he would simple have become a guru, I mean a religious guru. For James had a very strong spiritual side to him, not Christian but mystical and was very well read on the subject. That’s what made meetings with him so fascinating as the conversation could turn in a few moments from global postage rates to transcendental meditation.