Tex Thornton

Charles Bates "Tex" Thornton (July 22, 1913 – November 24, 1981) was an American business executive who was the founder of Litton Industries.

Tex Thornton
Charles Bates Thornton

July 22, 1913
DiedNovember 24, 1981(1981-11-24) (aged 68)
Burial placeArlington National Cemetery
EducationBachelor of Commercial Science, Columbus University, 1937
OccupationBusiness executive, philanthropist
Known forCEO, Litton Industries
Spouse(s)Flora L. Thornton

Early lifeEdit

Charles Bates Thornton was born on July 22, 1913 in Goree, Texas.[1]


He served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, reaching the rank of Colonel and commanding a staff of officers in the office of statistical control. Following the war he offered the group of ten to several employers as an all-or-nothing proposition to provide the corporation with an analytical management team. Henry Ford II had recently taken over Ford Motor Company, which was in bad financial shape and had virtually non-existent financial control systems. He interviewed and hired the team, which became known as the "Whiz Kids". Seven of the ten went on to senior executive positions.

Thornton left Ford in 1948 to work for Hughes Aircraft. In 1953, he founded a company called Electro-Dynamics, then acquired the vacuum tube manufacturing business of Charles Litton, Sr. in 1953.[2] In 1954, Electro-Dynamics also bought the rights to use the well-known "Litton" name.[2] Through a series of mergers and acquisitions orchestrated by Thornton, Litton became a huge conglomerate with a wide range of products.

In 1966, Thornton received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[3]

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in October, 1981.


The USC Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California is named in honor of Thornton's widow, Flora L. Thornton, due in part to a $25 million donation she made in 1999. Thornton was a trustee and donor to the university for many years. The Thornton Center for Engineering Management at Stanford University is also named in honor of Thornton. The Charles B. Thornton Administrative building on the campus of Pepperdine University stands as a tribute to the Thornton family.


He died in November 1981. He was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.


  1. ^ Robert Sobel, The Rise and Fall of the Conglomerate Kings (Beard Books, 1999) p49
  2. ^ a b "Alphonsus E. McCarthy, Jr., vs. Litton Industries, Inc". Case 410 Mass. 15. 1991. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  3. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.


External linksEdit