Dec. 1, 2008
WACO, Texas -- Marion Thornton Sterling, Baylor University's oldest living letterwinner, passed away Saturday evening at Providence Hospital in Waco. Sterling, 95, lettered for Baylor's baseball team during the 1934, 1935 and 1936 seasons. Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. CST at First Baptist Church of Waco.
A native of Waco, Texas, Sterling is survived by his younger brother, Dawson, with whom he established the Sterling Brothers Endowed Athletic Scholarship Fund at Baylor in 2003. In 1994, at age 81, Sterling married the former Janette Greene, with whom he had been friends since 1942; she passed away earlier this year.
Sterling graduated from Waco High School in 1930 and received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance from Baylor in 1936. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and was commissioned as an ensign; he left active service in 1945. Sterling lived in Washington, D.C., from 1942 to 1974; he retired from the U.S. Navy Reserves as a lieutenant commander after 20 years of service. He then spent 26 years as a tax accountant for the Internal Revenue Service.
Sterling remained an avid supporter of Baylor Athletics throughout his life, traveling by bus to Baylor sporting events throughout the country as recently as 2006. For 32 years, he traveled and slept on Greyhound buses with unlimited 60-day passes. In that time, he traveled to 48 states and saw Baylor athletic events in 40 states. Sterling also attended Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City (1968), Montreal (1972), Munich (1976), Los Angeles (1984), Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996).
In 2003, Sterling's streak of 232 consecutive Baylor football games attended ended when he missed the Bears' game against Texas State due to a bout with pneumonia. It was the first Baylor football game he had missed since the Bears' 1976 game at Rice, which he missed due to a severe ice storm in Central Texas.
Sterling was a member of First Baptist Church of Waco; he previously was a member of First Baptist Church of Washington and served as a deacon at both churches.
Baylor baseball's booster club, the Heart of the Order, annually awards the Thornton Sterling Player of the Year Award. The organization has presented the award since 2003 to the player who shows the best consistent performance and effort on the field and is an outstanding representative for the baseball team. Past winners are: Chris Durbin (2003), Abe Woody (2004), Josh Ford (2005), Zach Dillon (2006), Beamer Weems (2007) and Shaver Hansen (2008).
For more about Thornton Sterling and more Baylor baseball information, check out Straight from the Pen.