A Life Celebrated

Pat Thorburn’s teaching legacy and greatest achievements


This past week on Sept. 10, RMHS history teacher Pat Thorburn tragically passed away. As a teacher and man of many achievements, he left his mark on students and colleagues alike, inspiring many and constantly spreading positivity around RMHS. 

His impact spread not just to his recent but also to his former students. In fact, his two and a half decades of teaching at RMHS made impacts on the way that many view the study of history. Current RMHS history teacher Elliott Olson recognized Thorburn as a friend, a former teacher and a consistent inspiration. 

Given all of those ‘official’ accolades, I think that his true legacy rests with the fact that there are several of us [past students] whom he taught that have carried on to become teachers in the social studies,” Olson said.  “I am lucky enough to be one of those legacies and try to carry out my job as a teacher with the passion that he showed.”

Since Thorburn’s first year teaching at RMHS in 1996, he consistently worked hard to continue educating himself so that he could better serve his students. In 2010, Thorburn was one of seven RMHS teachers to achieve National Board certification. This certification is earned by educators who have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review. 

In addition to his desire to be a lifelong learner, he was also seen as a true inspiration by many.  In 2016, Thorburn received the State of Illinois Outstanding Teacher of American History Award from the Illinois Daughters of the American Revolution, an organization dedicated to keeping American history alive as well as advocating for the education and patriotism of younger generations.

The impact of Thorburn’s teachings and zest for life were widespread, and his loss devastated the students, staff and the Rolling Meadows community. 

Thorburn leaves behind his beloved wife, Kathy Thorburn, who is a current RMHS science teacher, his parents, his brother and sibling in-laws, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

In honor of his legacy, RMHS has created a Scholarship Memorial Fund in his name. It can be donated to the Go Fund Me page, linked below. https://www.gofundme.com/f/patrick-thorburn-memorial-scholarship-fund