Skip to content

2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Brent Thorne ('63)

Brent Thorne

“Go to class,” is Brent Thorne’s advice for Snow College students. When Brent started at Snow College in 1961 on a football scholarship, he had no idea education was his future. He often skipped class and struggled with a C grade average. Remembering those early years Brent said, “I just didn’t have a lot of academic self-confidence.” Later, when he entered the army, he was required to take a military intelligence test. He was surprised to learn that only one other guy in his battalion scored higher than he did. Brent realized he might be more capable than he thought. He said, “Most people are smarter than they think they are, they just need to have confidence and work hard.”

With his strong work ethic and new self-confidence, Brent was able to raise his grade point average and learned he could excel in school, eventually receiving a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, a master’s degree from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Connecticut. Through it all, Brent never forgot his start at Snow College.  

Brent was raised in Perry, Utah, where he played football and baseball for Box Elder High School. He helped the football team win the state championship, and Brent was named All-State in 1960. After High School, he was recruited by Coach Robert Stoddard to play football for Snow College. For Brent, this was the start of a lifelong devotion to Snow. He remembers with fondness helping Snow College win their first ever Intermountain Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship in 1962. Brent said, “In the conference, Snow played each team twice - one counted as a practice game and one was a league game,” he laughed, “well, we lost all the practice games and won all the late games,” winning them the championship. Brent earned All-Conference and honorable mention All-American honors.

Brent went on to play football for Weber State University where he joked, “They sobered me up and got me on a mission.” After he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the New England states, he returned home to play football for Weber, but he said, “I just didn’t feel like hitting people on the field anymore.” He explained, “I had coaches that really influenced me,” and wanting to make the same difference for others, he enrolled at Utah State to study history and physical education.

He met Janis Whitehead, the sister to one of his Snow College teammates, and they were married in 1967. They are the parents of six children (three deceased) and ten grandchildren. All of their children went on to attend Snow College including their son, who followed in Brent’s footsteps by playing football for Snow. Janis attended Utah State and has made a career of caring for their family. She is a lifelong learner, taking classes through correspondence with a particular love for her art courses.

After receiving his master’s degree, Brent accepted a job in Mt. Pleasant where he served the North Sanpete School District for 18 years, the last six as superintendent. During that time, he took a two-year sabbatical to earn his Ph.D. While living in Mt. Pleasant, Brent reconnected with his Snow College roots working with Robert Stoddard, the Foundation Director, and his former coach, to create a payroll deduction program for school district employees to donate to Snow College scholarship funds.

In 1992, Brent was recruited to Sevier School District where Janis told him, “We’ve gone south far enough.”  He served the rest of his career as superintendent and retired after 42 years in education.  Brent and Janis currently reside in Richfield, and they have loved living there.

Brent’s love for Snow College over the years is evident in his service to the students and his involvement with providing financial aid through scholarships. He and Janis established three scholarship endowment funds at Snow College including the Utah Rotary District Native American Scholarship, where he personally follows recipients’ progress at Snow College and is genuinely concerned for their success. He has also established additional family scholarships, and has encouraged many families to establish legacy scholarships in honor of loved ones who have passed away.  

He has served as Snow College’s Alumni Board President, as well as on the Athletic Fundraising Steering Committee, and continues to serve on the Foundation Board as the Scholarship Committee Chair. As Scholarship Committee Chairman, Brent has spearheaded many scholarship projects and was instrumental in raising funds during the Reimagine Scholarship Campaign in 2020, when a record amount of scholarship funds were raised for needs-based scholarship aid.  

While superintendent in Richfield, Brent played a key role in changing the Sevier Applied Technology Center to Snow College Richfield. He was also instrumental in raising funds to build the Sevier Valley Center (SVC) and helped establish the four 16-team basketball tournaments which are now in their 21st year at the SVC.

Outside of Brent’s service to Snow College, he is active in Rotary International, helping with numerous projects including building wheelchair swings for the Richfield Rotary Park and the Snow College campus, as well as raised garden beds for the community gardens. Brent is an avid woodworker and turned his skill into the Freedom Chair Project, which raised $50,000 to support local military families.

Brent and Janis served an LDS mission to the island of Kiribati as adjunct professors for BYU-Hawaii. After returning, Brent wrote three Rotary Global Fund grants to improve sanitation and drinking water on the island. The Thornes’ assisted with and continue to follow the Kiribati Kindling project, which provides loans for startup businesses to local Kiribati women.

The Snow College Alumni Association acknowledges Brent for his demonstrated love for Snow College and his community through his many years of dedicated service, and is honored to recognize him as the 2022 Snow College Distinguished Alumnus.