Greensboro, NC: Alfred Marshall (Al) Thorny, 87, died Sunday October 14, 2012. He was born in Lake City, S. C., August 14, 1925 and was the son of Salim A. and Blanche M. Thorny.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM Thursday, October 18, 2012 at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 2210 N. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27408.he visitation will follow the service in the Kloster Center.
He was educated at Greensboro Senior High (now Grimsley Senior High), Guilford College, UNCG (summer school), and the University of North Carolina Journalism School. He served in the U.S. Army, 1953-55, Information and Education Division, 101m Airborne, Headquarters Company, Sergeant, Ft. Jackson, sports editor and NCO of post newspaper; received The Department of Defense award winner as one of best service newspapers in the world.
He was a sports writer or sports Director at one time or another for the Durham Herald, The Atlanta Constitution, The Houston Press, the Greensboro News-Record, ESPN Magazine, and edited the ACC Sports magazine.
He is the author of three published books: Rambling Wreck: A History of Georgia Tech Football (Strode, 1973); Pepper: Autobiography of An Unconventional Coach, (Doubleday, 1976) and Bill Elliott: Fastest Man Alive (Peachtree Publishers 1988). One unpublished book, The History of the Atlanta Braves (written specifically for the Atlanta Braves archives). The Elliott book was a finalist as Georgia Art Council Biography of The Year.
Al won his first journalistic award (North Carolina Press Association) at age 23, (coverage of Duke-Wake Forest game in 1948) and last award at 77 (top sports columnist, community division, North Carolina Press Association) in 2002. In between, he was cited for at least 25 other national and regional journalistic awards in football, basketball, baseball, racing and opinion columns. He was named top racing columnist of 1995 by the National Motorsports Press Assn.
The year 2006 marked 63 years as a journalist and sports writer and his 31 awards in baseball, football, basketball, racing and investigative profiles moved his ex-boss Jim Minter to say, "Al's knowledge of sports is frightening."
1980-2002: In 1991 he began writing weekly racing columns, and in those 12 years, won six national writing awards for NASCAR coverage, and one North Carolina Press Association first place for columns (community division). His last award came at age 77.
To say Al was an extraordinary person and writer, one only has to glimpse at his sports writing background. –First North Carolinian to cover major league sports on a regular beat, and one of a few in the nation to cover some games in every major league-National and American baseball, National Football League, American Football League, National Basketball Assn., National Hockey League, National Soccer League, as well as old World Football League. He was also beat man in Piedmont Carolina and Southern Assn. minor leagues, and did special assignments on old North State, Georgia State, Sally and Georgia-Florida leagues. He covered minor and major league training camps.
His Sports Positions And Memberships included:-Secretary and charter member of Southern Motorsport Press Association; Director of United States Basketball Writers Association; Chairman of the Press Services Committee, U. S. Basketball Writers Association; Member of the All-America Selection Committee, U. S. Basketball Writers Association; Atlanta's charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors, served 12 years; Atlanta's designated liaison between NFL officials and the media, only media member allowed in officials' dressing room before or after game; Also member of Baseball Writers of America, National Motorsports Press Association; Southern Association (baseball) Writers, Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Writers Associations; Non-sports: Member of Houston Press Club, Atlanta Press Club, American Legion, Elks Club, and East Lake Country Club (Atlanta).
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