Cover photo for Stephen P. Thorne's Obituary
Stephen P. Thorne Profile Photo
1940 Stephen 2020

Stephen P. Thorne

January 10, 1940 — July 4, 2020

Stephen “Steve” Paul Thorne, 80, of Rockford IL, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, 4 July 2020.

Steve was born on 10 January 1940 in Ottumwa, IA, to James Paul Thorne and Doris Evelyn Rodden Thorne. The family moved to Cedar Rapids, IA, and then to Moline, IL, in his high school years. Steve was active playing football and wrestling and became a licensed operator of amateur radio (ham radio). He graduated from Moline High School in 1958 and continued to UCLA in Los Angeles, earning a degree in Mathematics.

Steve was an early "tech" explorer in what we now think of as commonplace - computers! His early work in this field led him to Iowa City before Davenport, IA, then Wisconsin Rapids, WI, before landing in Rockford, IL, in 1965. Steve worked for several tech giants of the day - Honeywell, Incoterm, Hewlett Packard and Xerox--all before starting his own tech company in the Rockford area that helped businesses migrate to and thrive in our digital age. Steve was a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church and Kiwanis Club and a licensed private pilot. In retirement, Steve enjoyed refurbishing used computer equipment and donating it to students who were unable to acquire it otherwise.

Licensed to operate ham radio in 1957 as a junior in high school, Steve was better known in those circles as K9LLI (Kilo Nine Lima Lima Italy). His passion for ham radio was evident in his membership in various Amateur Radio Clubs: W0BXR - Davenport IA, W9YCR - Quad City, W0IO, University of Iowa, W6YRA - UCLA and W9AXD - Rockford Amateur Radio Association (RARA). His "small" collection of vintage radio gear included many classic pieces from Collins, Harvey Wells, Gonset, Hallicrafters, Drake, ICOM, Kenwood and many others - primarily operating in 20 and 30 meters. So "73" (best wishes) from K9LLI to the thousands of hams he shared QSOs with over the past 60+ years! K9LLI-SK

Steve married Janet Carol Rummery in 1962, and they were blessed with 2 adopted children, Bradley Paul Thorne (Colorado Springs, CO) and Susan Lee Thorne Williams (Chatham, IL). Steve and Janet later divorced in 1978. Steve was blessed to marry again, and in June of 1983, wed Elizabeth Smith Sharp. Brad and Sue were now the youngest of his children, with the addition of Scott Sharp (Plymouth, WI), Margey Sharp Hagmann and Renee Sharp Buelte (both of Rockford, IL). Steve and Liz adopted and raised their grandchild Megan “Brayden” Thorne. Steve is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Rockford, IL), his sister Kathy, all his children, 10 grandchildren: Skyler Thorne, Aidan Thorne, Antoine “Taye” Glass, Desiree Cole, Jensen Buelte, Finley Buelte, Alec Hagmann, Kyle Hagmann, Neil Sharp, and Abbey Pigatti and one great grandchild, Peighton Pigatti.

Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, 16 July 2020 at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, 1860 S. Mulford Rd., Rockford IL 61108. Please plan to adhere to phase 4 guidelines, a 50-person limit in the funeral home, face masks are required, and social distancing guidelines must be followed. A family burial service will immediately follow the visitation in Arlington Memorial Park, Rockford IL.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to any of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) projects listed at: Please include Steve’s name and call sign, K9LLI, in the “Additional Comments” section.

Arrangements entrusted to Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory. Share online condolences and memories at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Stephen P. Thorne, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, July 16, 2020

10:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory - Mulford Chapel

1860 South Mulford Road, Rockford, IL 61108

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Arlington Memorial Park Cemetery

6202 Charles Street, Rockford, IL 61108

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