Samuel Thoron died Nov. 17 in his sleep at his home in San Francisco, shortly after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was 79 and had been a lifelong summer resident of West Tisbury where his family connections date back to before World War II.

Husband, father, grandfather, amateur race car driver, sailor, business owner and activist, Sam was a deeply compassionate and ethical person who shared his life and wisdom with many.

He was born in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 1939, the third child of Violet Spencer Thoron and Benjamin Warder Thoron. He was educated at the St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., the Pomfret School in Connecticut and Harvard College, with a break during his college years to serve in the U.S. Army in an artillery unit stationed in Germany. While at Harvard he met Julia Harding Miller. They were married in December 1962 in San Francisco.

Sam was dedicated to his family, beginning with his wife, Julia of 55 years, whom he always introduced as “my lovely bride.” He parented with both joy and seriousness, forging connections with his children and grandchildren through bedtime stories, stuffed animals, sailing and motor-boating adventures, and earnest, wide-ranging conversations over dinner. He cared deeply for his extended family, and was a link that kept various branches of the family together.

He cherished the family property on Martha’s Vineyard where he had spent summers as a child, and was deeply committed to the stewardship of Seven Gates Farm, where he served as president, as his father had.

LGBTQ issues became important to Sam after his daughter Liz came out. Sam and Julia were longtime leaders of PFLAG’s San Francisco chapter. Sam was passionate about helping other parents learn to accept, support, and advocate for their gay, lesbian and transgender children. Sam served on the PFLAG National Board for 10 years and as PFLAG National President from 2002 to 2006.

He and Julia were enthusiastic and vocal supporters of the 2008 No on 8 campaign in California. They were featured in an influential campaign advertisement and signed the California Voter Information Guide argument against Proposition 8, stating simply that they wanted their lesbian daughter to have all the same rights and opportunities as their two straight sons.

Sam continued his service as a board member of Freedom to Marry and Marriage Equality USA, and as a supporter of the Horizons Foundation and other organizations. In 2015 Sam and Julia were honored by the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee as recipients of the Jose Julio Sarria History Maker Award, in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to the way society views the LGBTQ community.

Sober for 35 years, he was also devoted to helping other recovering alcoholics and cherished his friends in the recovery community. He freely admitted that if he had not stopped drinking he would have lost both his family and his life a long time ago. He was continually grateful for his hard-won second chance.

He will be remembered by those who knew him for his wisdom and insightful commentary. He was humble, pragmatic and gentle with his advice.

He is survived by his wife, his three children, Benjamin, Joseph and Elizabeth and their spouses; seven grandchildren; a sister Ann A. Hale of Bedford; the extended Thoron family and beloved Miller family of Marin County. He was predeceased by his parents and a brother, Christopher Thoron.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco.

Donations in his memory can be made to the PFLAG Thoron State Advocacy fund (; the Point Blue Conservation Science (; or the Horizons Foundation (