EL MONTE – Former mayor and city councilman John “Jack” Thurston died Friday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 69. “He loved his community, he loved his country, he loved his family,” said Thurston’s daughter, Jackie Thurston- Rowe. “Those were the three things that mattered most to him.” Thurston died at about 9:30a.m. in Ramona Care Center in El Monte. Thurston had been in the care center the past two years. “He did a wonderful job for the city of El Monte,” said current Mayor Ernie Gutierrez. “I’m saddened that he died.” During the 1990s, Thurston was a force in the city, easily winning re-election after his first bid for council in 1990. “I’m sorry to hear of his passing,” said Councilwoman Pat Wallach, who came onto the panel at the same time as Thurston and frequently clashed with him over policies. “My sympathies and prayers go out to his family.” For his successful 1990 council bid, Thurston raised the most money of any candidate in the race, accumulating a war chest of $4,390. It was considered a substantial sum at the time. Once elected, he took a bold stand against Los Angeles County. Thurston advocated creation of San Gabriel County, with a smaller and easier-to-manage county government. Thurston also was known as a strong supporter of the El Monte Police Department. The city’s police union frequently contributed to his campaigns. Thurston was also a strong backer of the city’s fire department and the sole vote against turning the service over to the county, Wallach said. His family said Thurston also was proud of his role in starting the city’s police helicopter program, developing a movie theater on Valley Boulevard at Santa Anita Avenue and the expansion of Longo Toyota. Thurston also was known for donning a Santa Claus costume every year and giving out gifts to El Monte children in need. A viewing of Thurston’s body is planned from 4 to 8p.m. Jan. 3 at Roy C. Addleman & Son Funeral Home, 11338 Valley Blvd. His funeral will be held at 9 a.m. Jan. 4 at Nativity Catholic Church, 3743 N. Tyler Ave. Following the funeral, Thurston will be buried at Riverside National Cemetery. Thurston is survived by his wife, Helen, and six children. In a letter to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June 5, 1990, Thurston thanked it for its support. “If success and wealth are measured only by position and material acquisitions, then some may judge me a failure,” Thurston wrote. “However, if measured by friends and loved ones, I am truly rich and successful.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2717 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!