Horace Thuline ’43, age 94, passed peacefully at home on September 11, 2016 surrounded by family and friends. He is survived by his wife Janice; children Dale (Marcia), Lynn (Ron), Clare, Wade (Sheryl), Keith (Sheila), Faye and Bren (Christine); stepchildren Cynthia (Rick), Kimberly (Winfried), Dale (Callae), dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and sisters Judy, Dorothy (Ralph) and Marian (Jim). Horace was predeceased by his first wife, Blanche, his son Mark, his daughter Gail, and his grandson Eric.
Horace, widely known as ‘Doc’, decided upon his own epitaph over a decade ago: ‘I had a good life.’ Truth be told, he had a phenomenal life, touching thousands of people along his journey. Born to Free Methodist missionary parents Winfred and Evangeline Thuline on August 18, 1922, Horace spent his early years in India. Back in the U.S. as a young man, he went to work for Kodak. During his time there he patented a new type of cement for lenses for military use, and began a life-long love of photography. In 1944 Horace enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps serving the remainder of World War II as a Private First Class in the Pacific Theater, on Okinawa and in Northern China. After leaving the military he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry from Seattle Pacific College (1949), followed by a Medical Doctorate from the University of Washington (1953). From there his career progressed quickly, working at Harborview and Children’s Orthopedic Hospitals before moving into a primary focus on research. By 1959/60 Horace was the Director of Laboratories at Tacoma General and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospitals, as well as at the State of Washington’s Rainier School. At the forefront of the developing genetics field, in the mid-1970’s he established and led the Genetics Program within Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. Among many other achievements, while there he was the driving force in having PKU screening for newborns instituted as the standard in hospitals across the state, impacting countless lives.
Anyone who spent time with Doc was soon aware of another love of his life – Mt. Rainier. Through his photography he documented the mountain from every side in every season. In his last decade he and Janice achieved a life dream to build a home oriented around a view of the mountain. Horace also loved to travel. He visited numerous countries around the world including New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and England, but one that stood out was a 2002 trip to China. After a chance encounter on the Oregon Coast Horace was invited as an honored guest to the Chinese town of TangGu. They had learned that he had one-of-a-kind photos of the village from his time as a Marine in 1945 – pictures he agreed to donate to the new history museum the town was building.
Horace was a man of deep faith and commitment to family. He married his first love, Blanche Letson, on Christmas Day 1941 and together they had nine children. In 1989 Horace married his second love, Janice Tessin. He remained a Free Methodist his entire life, participating at both St. Andrew and Southminster Presbyterian Churches after marrying Janice. He cultivated over 100 varieties of iris. He ate untold bowls of ice cream – preferably vanilla – and in the last decades of his life played thousands of games of ‘Chicken-Foot’. He was deeply loved, and will be dearly missed. He had a good life.