Foundation BannerMake a gift TODAY.
Navigation Bar
Untitled Document
Untitled Document

Quick Links
I Fed the Tiger
Campus Updates
Employment Opportunities
Support a Program
Student Scholarships
Financial Report
Wooster Society
News Releases


Useful Links
Alumni Association
Board Access



line break
News Release

The FHSU Legacy of John C. Thorns, Jr.

George Wall
John C. Thorns, Jr. had many successes at Fort Hays State University. By 1950 he had achieved his first major milestone at FHSU by earning an undergraduate degree in art. Thorns would later join the FHSU faculty as a professor in the Department of Art and Design, but not before he furthered his education and married Catherine Ann Gallagher.  Together, the couple had two daughters - Karen and Jennifer. Despite the losses of his wife and daughter, Jennifer, in later years, Thorns kept a positive mindset and strong work ethic. His incredible values and dedication to his profession granted him a promotion to Chairman of the Department of Art and Design in 1973. Moreover, he was very active in many organizations and church functions as past President and Founder of the Hays Arts Council, Elder at the First Presbyterian Church, and Consultant and Director for the Hadley Foundation Art Collection at the Hays Medical Center.

While Thorns received a great deal from FHSU, he gave back even more. Fort Hays State University's current Chair of the Department of Art and Design, Lee Powers, noted that Thorns had a lasting impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of FHSU students, and was beneficial in helping the art department grow because of his contributions. Also, because of Thorns’ work, the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art was constructed in 1981 – one of his many dreams that he had hoped for. The gallery was eventually renamed and dedicated in 1987 at Homecoming to Thorns and previous Department of Art and Design Chairman, Joel Moss.

Thorns was a lifetime donor to FHSU, giving annually until his death on July 15th, 2014. He gained admittance into FHSU’s Wooster Society (which seeks to honor individuals who arrange gifts to Fort Hays State University through planned giving) in 2000 when he made the FHSU Foundation aware of plans to gift his estate to enhance the university’s art gallery. In 2003, he was recognized for other monetary contributions when he reached the “Silver Level” of giving within the President’s Leadership Circle, signifying his achievement of giving over $100,000 to Fort Hays State University.

Thorns’ activism to revitalize the Hays art community, and, more specifically, the art life at FHSU, has undoubtedly left a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. His willingness to give so much is a remarkable example of how using one’s talents and generosity to the utmost potential can benefit others for years to come.

To honor John C. Thorns, Jr. and support the future of Fort Hays State University, please make a gift today. Simply visit and list the “Museum of Art in Memory of John Thorns” as your area of designation or click on the link below.

To learn more about how you can help support Fort Hays State University, please visit the FHSU Foundation website at or contact the Foundation office at 785-628-5620 or