Class of 1936
James S. Thorburn
Circuit Court of Michigan Judge, 1963-1989
Received two Distinguished Flying Crosses in World War II for Heroism
President of the Royal Oak Board of Education
Inducted into Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame, 1996
James S. Thorburn graduated from Royal Oak High School in June of 1936. He holds a bachelor degree from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Michigan.
The day after Pearl Harbor James Thorburn enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve and served as a naval aviator and naval officer until his discharge in 1945. During his tour of duty in the Pacific he was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals for heroism and reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Mr. Thorburn engaged in the general practice of law in Royal Oak for 16 years. During that time he held positions as City Attorney for the cities of Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge and President of the Royal Oak School Board.
James Thorburn was appointed a Circuit Court Judge for Oakland County in 1963. He served in that capacity for 25 years during which he installed modern electrical recording equipment and created a sentencing panel to insure uniformity in sentencing. He held positions on the Michigan Judicial Tenure Committee and was president of the Michigan Judges Association. James S. Thorburn was inducted into the Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame in 1996.