Condolences: Thurston Carleton

It is with great sadness that ASU shares news of the passing of Thurston Carleton, 6th dan, Aikido Shobukan Dojo Board member, and longtime contributor to the aikido community. Thurston’s deep understanding of aikido principles and commitment to Saotome Shihan’s vision served as an inspiration to us all and benefited many. His time at Shobukan spanned five decades. From rigorous training in his early years (e.g., we’ve heard the stories of koshi-nage practice in the parking lot) to leading seniors’ class in his later years, Thurston was always engaged in the happenings of the dojo. Thurston truly did it all for the dojo and always from a place of love and respect for the art and those around him. We will miss Thurston’s sage guidance and generous spirit.

The following memories are offered by George Ledyard Sensei:

“I knew Thurston Carlton for over 40 years. I began my Aikido training in 1977 at the newly opened Aikido Shobukan Dojo with Saotome Sensei and in those early days of the dojo, Thurston was ever present. In those days the dojo was not yet close to finished. Warren Little lived in his camper behind the dojo (where the rock garden is now). Only half the space was matted. It had been an electrician’s business and half the space was filled with old cable reels, wiring, and all sorts of garbage while we had cleared the other half and built the mat. The walls were in the process of being paneled. Thurston and I among others did that.

Thurston always seemed to be at the dojo somewhere, fixing something. In those days there was no residence upstairs so the Dojo was the mat area and a cave-like basement. Sensei lived elsewhere. Thurston seemed to be over at Sensei’s when he wasn’t at the dojo. I know he had a job in those days but I am not at all sure how he managed that since between his time at Sensei’s helping him and his time at the dojo working on the space it seemed like aikido took up all his time. In those days the core group all trained six days a week. But Thurston would even come in off-hours and train with Glenn Bluestone who lived with Sarah down in the basement. Glenn was always happy to have Thurston drop in for more Aikido.

No one loved Aikido more than Thurston did. And no one did more for Sensei or the Dojo than Thurston did in those early days. Over the years that never changed. If something needed fixing, he jumped right in. If Sensei needed help with something, he jumped right in… right up until his passing.

The Aikido Shobukan Dojo owes Thuston more than can be expressed. And it will not be quite the same place without his presence. His passing is the end of an era.”