Obituary — Leslie Thornton II


Leslie Thornton II, age 77, died peacefully at home on Dec. 5. He was born on Sept. 15, 1946, in Detroit to Katherine and Leslie James Thornton Sr., and was raised in Hamtramck where he went to primary school and graduated high school.

Les earned an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies from Michigan State University, and a Master of Social Work and Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan. He was a beloved professor at UM-Dearborn from 1991-2013. He taught classes on multicultural education and served as an academic adviser for countless graduate students.

Photo of Leslie Thornton
Leslie Thornton II

Les was an enthusiastic educator who found his passion challenging his students to think critically while preparing them to be exceptional teachers. He was an avid reader of science fiction and enjoyed watching action movies in his free time.

He loved to travel and try new things. He especially enjoyed visiting other countries, learning from different cultures, and sharing his travel experiences with others.

It was important to Les to resist convention. He found meaningful personal expression in critiquing social norms and questioning authority. Though not religious himself, he was drawn to new-age philosophy and metaphysics, and throughout his life maintained a profound interest in questions related to the nature of reality, the origins of the universe, and the limits of the human mind.

He loved being a professor, but he also loved retirement. He enjoyed a good laugh and was never happier than when he was eating his favorite foods, chatting with friends and family, or sparking up a conversation with perfect strangers. He was second to none.

Les is survived by his children, Kyan Thornton (Kofi Bosque-Hamilton) and Brendan (Mónica) Thornton; grandchildren, Shanti Bosque-Hamilton and Ellis Bosque-Hamilton; sister, Amber Patterson; nephews, Calvin Patterson and Juan (Joi) Thornton; and sister-in-law, Jackie Thornton. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Auburn Thornton and Shawn Thornton.

A celebration of Les’ life will take place from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 6, 2024, at Nie Family Funeral Home, 3767 W. Liberty Road, Ann Arbor.

The family requests that donations be made to the LEAD Scholars Program at U-M in lieu of flowers. The LEAD Scholars Program offers merit-based scholarships and empowers community support to admitted underrepresented minority students (African American, Latino, and Native American) who exemplify the program’s four pillars: leadership, excellence, achievement and diversity. Donations can be made online at

Submitted by the Thornton family


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