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Architects of Generosity

Sep 26, 2013
by Laura Smith

Bequest builds on Thorn legacy at Flagler College Craig and Audrey Thorn passed away exactly two years apart: he on Dec. 17, 2010, and she on Dec. 17, 2012. Friends say that’s just how they did things — high school sweethearts and married for 59 years, where one went, the other would soon follow.

The couple also shared the trait of giving. In 2004, they created a bequest to ensure that Flagler College would receive a donation in excess of $1 million. This year, the college receives that remarkable gift — by far the largest unrestricted bequest received to date.

Flagler was very close to the Thorns’ hearts. Audrey was a St. Augustine native who had watched the old Hotel Ponce de Leon evolve into a premier liberal arts college. Craig, a two-term mayor of St. Augustine Beach, was a prominent city architect who had worked closely with Flagler on nearly every major building and architectural project during the college’s first four decades.

He was instrumental in the renovation of Ponce de Leon, Kenan and Wiley Halls, and he designed six college structures: the Gymnasium, Lewis Auditorium, the Tennis Center, the Athletic Field, Lewis House and Lewis Memorial Pavilion. He also assisted during the construction of the Proctor Library.

“Craig Thorn’s fingerprints are on virtually every building project the college has undertaken in the last 40 years,” said Tracy Upchurch, Flagler associate professor of law and history, and an attorney for the Thorns. “He was an enormous part of our history.”

The Thorns’ good friend John Bailey Sr. remembers Craig and Audrey as a devoted couple who were part of a large group of St. Augustine friends affectionately dubbed “El Groupo,” who together trekked to many destinations including Spain, Greece and Germany. “Craig was the fun maker,” Bailey said. “He was always looking for a way to have a good time.”

But when it was time to get back to work, Bailey noted, Craig was quick to take his architectural and planning projects seriously. “Craig was so proud of everything he did with the college,” Bailey said. “As he should have been.”

Brad Davis, the Thorns’ CPA, agreed. “The Thorns took great joy in working with the college,” he said. “Craig often expressed a deep affection for not just the institution, but for the people who make up the institution. He was very personally connected.”

Planners in business and in life, the Thorns chose wisely in designing their last gift to the college. The bequest option — a popular giving vehicle because of its ease of set-up and estate tax deductions — ensures a donor’s legacy and can reduce tax burdens for beneficiaries.

“Flagler College always depended on Craig Thorn for architecture and preservation.” Bailey said. “With this generous bequest, the Thorns put a mark on St. Augustine that will long be remembered.”

For more information about the Flagler College Planned Giving Program, or to inquire about the advantages of a bequest, please contact Nicole Pece, Director of Development, at 904-819-6240, or visit

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