Todd Robert Thornstrom, aka ‘Mr. Todd’

Beloved son, BLAST volunteer, lover of music and dance

Todd Robert Thornstrom died peacefully, at home, with his mother by his side, the morning of August 4.

He was born on January 8, 1981, to Rob and Lynn Thornstrom, and lived in Claremont since the age of 2. He attended Mountain View Elementary School, El Roble Intermediate School, and Claremont High School, graduating in 1999. In 1999, he received the City of Claremont’s Youth Recognition Award and Certificate of Appreciation. He went on to earn an AA in social and behavioral science from Citrus College and a BA in human development from Cal State San Bernardino.

While attending Mountain View, Todd and his brothers Tyler and Thomas, participated in the Claremont Unified School District’s Best Learning After School Time or BLAST program. All three boys thrived at BLAST and if their parents arrived before closing, the boys asked them to come back later. So, it was no surprise that he volunteered and later worked for the program as a child development program assistant. Most of his years were spent on the Sumner Danbury campus that was conveniently located across the street from his house. The students he worked with fondly referred to him as “Mr. Todd.”

Rick Lopez, CUSD assistant superintendent of human resources, shared, “For over 20 years, Todd served at a variety of sites and summer programs, making a positive impact in the lives of students. He has been described as a kid at heart with a bright smile. He often could be found setting up and playing games — board games or other fun group games — with students, ensuring they took turns, played fair and were having fun. He had a great laugh and students responded to his fun heart and encouragement to play and enjoy each other.”

Despite his medical retirement in 2021, he continued to volunteer, most recently with the kindergarten class at Sumner Danbury Elementary School during the morning recess.

He showed a love for children at an early age and took pride in being the oldest of the 17 Sturgis grandchildren. However, he was even prouder to be uncle to his brother Tyler’s children, Georgie and Miles. Miles is pictured with him in the photo that accompanies this obituary.

He grew up attending Pilgrim Congregation Church in Pomona, where he served as a teacher’s aide and president of the high school youth group. Most recently he was a member of HOPE City Church in Claremont. Faith and fellowship were important to him and helped him face the many challenges he experienced throughout life.

In 1994 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor which required a ventriculoperitoneal shunt, chemotherapy, and radiation. He was homeschooled during sixth grade and missed a portion of junior high school due to radiation treatments. He was first diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015, with recurrences in 2021 and 2022.

Following a visit to the emergency room on July 24, an MRI of his brain and spine indicated the lymphoma had aggressively returned and could not be treated. He came home to hospice on July 28, and he died a week later.

Almost as important as his faith was his love of music and dance. At the age of 5, he loved to perform as Michael Jackson, glove, and all. He then entered his hip-hop phase where he would perform “Too Legit to Quit” as MC Hammer. He was one of the first members of Claremont High School’s hip-hop team, Wolfgang. “He was like a music encyclopedia and would play name that tune/artist while listening to music with his uncles,” his family shared. “He loved to attend his uncle Steve Sturgis’ bands the Dogs and Soulshine, where you would always find him on the dance floor.”

His brother Tyler remembers his wit and sense of humor: “Some of the times I have laughed the hardest were with him.”

His uncle Todd Sturgis was a frequent companion, taking him on hikes, walks, and to the movies. They also loved to fly kites across the street in Griffith Park. Aunt Nancy Sturgis also played a special role, often lending her ear or taking him to the store. His uncle Mark Sturgis visited every day while he was in the hospital and hospice. Almost all his aunts and uncles, and most of his cousins were able to visit prior to his death.

Mr. Thornstrom was preceded in death by his father, Rob Thornstrom, and brother, Thomas Thornstrom.

He is survived by his mother, Lynn Thornstrom; brother Tyler (Jess) Thornstrom; niece and nephew Georgie and Miles Thornstrom; aunts and uncles Steve Sturgis (Stacey), Nancy Sturgis, Mark Sturgis (Sheila), Todd Sturgis, Doug Sturgis (Cheryl), Tom Sturgis, Linda Bradley, Terry (Buck) James and Don Vandegriff; cousins Brittany (Andy Scrape), Sarah, Matthew and Michael Sturgis, Aubrey and Brennen Biewener, Brian (Kaitlyn) Sturgis-Jensen, Sean (Megan) Sturgis, Leah (John) Davis, Lauren (Jared) Haston, Paul Sturgis, Ashleigh (Dennis) Sturgis/Perry, Alina Sturgis and Maddie Keehn, Jennifer (Jimmy) Friend and Cathy Corkrum; and  second cousins Ben and Jackson Scrape, Elias and Emma Sturgis, Cooper Davis, Hadley, Cody and Conner Haston, Jameson Perry and Kinsley Keehn.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to the City of Hope at

A celebration of his life will be scheduled for later this year.


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