Dr. Clyde Thornsberry is a proud alumnus of Alice Lloyd College who was born and raised on Caney Creek (KY). His parents, Lummie and Ollie Thornsberry, chose to live in Pippa Passes so that Clyde and his siblings could have an education provided by Alice Lloyd. Clyde studied under Mrs. Lloyd at Caney Junior College, which would eventually become Alice Lloyd College.
Dr. Thornsberry remembers his time at the College fondly and says, “The influence that the school has had on my life is immeasurable.” He continued, “The quality of the professors and the curriculum were excellent, but the education went far beyond the ‘3 Rs.’”
Although his major interest was science, he is forever grateful that he was introduced to the humanities, particularly literature, before becoming totally immersed in the sciences. He says, “How else would I have known about, let alone see, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas?”
Dr. Thornsberry married a true mountain girl, Glenda Martin, whose family had ties to Alice Lloyd. They have three children, Teresa, David and Robert, whom he proudly refers to as his biggest successes, eight grandchildren, and at present, two great-grandchildren.
He began his high school career at the very young age of 10, and began college four years later. He graduated form Caney Junior College once in 1947 and again in 1952. After serving in the military during the Korean War, he decided to continue his education at the University of Kentucky where he received his Doctorate in Microbiology.
Dr. Thornsberry’s professional career began at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. While working at the CDC, he gained a national and international reputation as a scientist and expert in several fields, including, but not limited to, microbiology and infectious diseases. He authored and co-authored many hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles, books, and chapters on these subjects and various others. His laboratory at CDC was selected to be a World Health Organization (WHO) laboratory, which is a huge achievement.
In 1989, Dr. Thornsberry left the CDC, but continued his work in the industry. He and Glenda moved to Franklin, Tennessee, where he held an appointment at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. In 2012, he and Glenda moved back to Georgia (Macon) to be closer to family. He continues to work but at a lesser pace, focusing more time on his family and enjoying the life that he has built.
Dr. Thornsberry was, and is, active in his profession and has reached countless achievements. He has been an active member of the American Society for Microbiology for more than 50 years and has served in many capacities for the ASM. He was Chairman of The Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the most prominent infectious disease meeting in the world. He is also a long-time member of The American Academy of Microbiology, The Infectious Disease Society of America and its European counterpart, and the New York Academy of Sciences. He was instrumental in the development of the Clinical Laboratory Science Institute and has worked with them for more than 50 years to develop standard laboratory methods that are used worldwide. He remains active in editing and reviewing articles submitted for publication in scientific journals to determine their scientific accuracy and continues to lecture on these subjects not only in America, but worldwide.
Dr. Thornsberry has received numerous awards for his work and service. Among them are the Commendation Ribbon with Medal Pendant for his service in the Korean War, the Public Health Service Superior Service Award (which is the highest award given by the PHS to a non-military individual), the Public Health Service Award (presented to him and his laboratory personnel), and major awards from the American Society for Microbiology. He has been named a “most cited author,” a member in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Medicine, and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering. Dr. Thornsberry is also a proud Kentucky Colonel and a Tennesse Squire.
While Dr. Thornsberry’s amazing medical achievements make him seem unapproachable, one will find that he is very down to earth. When asked about his memories of Mrs. Lloyd, Dr. Thornsberry warmly refers to her as an “incredible lady who always had something to say.” He advises current students, commenting, “It’s easy to give advice, but hard to take it,”; but, he says to “work hard and enjoy what you’re doing.”
ALC is proud of Dr. Thornsberry and all of his terrific accomplishments! Even though he is retired, we know that there is much to come from him in the future. Dr. Thornsberry remains one of the best examples to Alice Lloyd College students of how far an education and hard work will take you.
Alice Lloyd College is always looking for stories about our alumni! If you have a story to tell, or if you know an alumna or alumnus who has received an award, published an article, book, or influential research, or has accomplished something noteworthy, please let us know by visiting this page.