Springfield’s chief municipal judge died Friday, according to a release from the City of Springfield.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Chief Municipal Judge Todd Thornhill passed away Friday,” the release said. “He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of public service and will be missed.”

He was 61.

Chief Municipal Judge Todd Thornhill

Judge Thornhill first joined the City when he was appointed Second Division judge in 1993. The following year, he was appointed as the court’s chief judge. In that role, Thornhill presided over city ordinance violation cases and was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the court, the release said.

Judge Thornhill achieved many honors during his career, including an appointment to a Missouri Supreme Court Municipal Division Work Group in 2015.

In 2016, he was appointed to serve as a member of the Missouri Press-Bar Commission to foster better communication between the media and the bench and bar.

In 2019, he was awarded the Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges Association George Pittman Award, which recognizes the honoree’s contributions to the association “which substantially exceed those normally expected of officers and board members,” the release said.

Judge Thornhill graduated from Missouri State University in 1983 with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law with a juris doctor degree in 1987.

He then worked in private practice with the Springfield law firm of Woolsey, Fisher, Whiteaker and McDonald until 1990 and was an attorney with the law offices of Robert M.N. Palmer in Springfield from 1990 until 1993.

Judge Thornhill was a member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, the Missouri Bar and the Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges’ Association.

He is survived by his wife Cynthia and son Ryan.

Private family services will take place with a celebration of life scheduled for a later date.

Online memorial messages can be made at Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald