John Racheldon Thurston

Jon Racheldon Thurston was taken from our midst on Dec. 13, 2019. He passed away from medical complications in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He was born on Aug. 20, 1951, at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley, to the union of Jewel Naurlynn Smith Thurston and the late Julius Allen Thurston. 

Jon was raised in Oakland in his family home on Grande Vista Avenue and in 1960 was baptized at age 8 at the St. Jude Spiritual Temple, Richmond, Calif., with his brother, the late Christopher Kirk Thurston. Jon graduated Manzanita Elementary School, Roosevelt Junior High School, and Oakland High School before attending University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Hastings School of the Law, San Francisco. 

His original major at UCSB was pre-med and he worked at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Oakland as an orderly and aide throughout high school and summers home from college. He switched his major late in his third year at UCSB and his focus became law. 

Jon worked as a clerk in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office while attending law school and, upon passing the California State Bar, he became a deputy district attorney in 1978. Although Jon worked throughout the criminal justice system, his first love was the Juvenile Division, where he worked for 17 of his 36 years with Alameda County. He felt that young people needed alternatives to the lifestyles they saw on the streets. 

His parents were always active in the community and instilled in their children the value of community involvement and “giving back.” Jon gave from the heart to many boards where he served, including the Alameda County Legal Aide Society and International Dragon Boat Association, and as an advisor to Safe Passages and the Alameda and Oakland Explorer Law Posts. 

For more than two years Jon participated in a national program to prevent youth violence in association with Youth Alive of Oakland and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. He served on the executive committee of the Interagency Children’s Policy Council of Alameda County and was a past president of Alameda Boys and Girls Club. Jon was a co-founder of the Donald P. McCullum Youth Court. He assisted in writing the bylaws and strategic plan, while also recruiting the support of judges, court staff and lawyers throughout the community. 

He worked with numerous volunteer programs and was a frequent speaker at public schools, informing students about opportunities available to them and could often be found in courtrooms, orchestrating mock trial programs in which students serve as judges, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, defendants and plaintiffs. 

He loved to travel and explore new places. Together, Jon and Tik went to China, Canada, multiple countries in Europe and many trips to Mexico every year. He loved fishing and made time to fish with friends at Lake Shastina and in Mexico. Jon also enjoyed attending cultural events, music concerts, dance performances and always enjoyed a fine dinner out. 

Jon is survived by his wife of 36 years, Linda J. “Tik” Thurston, mother Jewel Naurlynn Smith Thurston, sister Miguel Q. Thurston (Brett York), and brother Amiel M. Thurston (Tracy Amey Thurston); Sister-in-law Patricia Susan Dizard; nephews Jordan A. Thurston (Tamara Jonoubeh Thurston), Ryan A. Thurston, Jonathan T. York, Quintin E. Thurston and Nick Dizard (Niki Dizard); nieces Ashley Dizard (Ivan Lindblad) and Jill Dizard; Aunts, Queen Esther Thurston and Narvelle Smith Harrison; step-grandchildren Ana N. Menefee and Alex Menefee; Godchildren: Erin Kershaw (Matthew), Meghan McGinn (Brian), Thomas Daffern, Damon Todd (Kam Mendez-Todd), Jason Todd, Amber Todd, Nyiema Bayfield, Simone Bayfield and Laura Joy Sonido; and a host of cousins, other relatives, colleagues and friends. 

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held this Sunday, Jan. 18, at 2 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Repast immediately following, with location to be announced after services. 

In lieu of flowers please consider donating to: Alameda Boys and Girls Club, Alameda Meals on Wheels, or Hastings College of the Law.