One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for June 30, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Today is a bittersweet day for not only me but a lot of people at UNC Pembroke. June 30 marks the end of the fiscal year and with that a number of employees use that date to end their service to the State of North Carolina and our university on that date. No less than four people I work with closely on a daily basis will have today be their last day at the university.
Lisa Canada has served as Assistant to the Chancellor is leaving to join her husband Mark at the University of Indiana at Kokomo. Chancellor Kyle Carter is retiring after 40 plus years in higher education and will be relocating in Asheville, NC. Dr. John Jones our current Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will begin as Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The fourth person is Dr. Tommy Thompson who I have worked with for nearly 25 years.
Tommy is stepping down as chair of UNC Pembroke’s Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department. He has spent 35 consecutive years at UNCP and a total of 45 years as a teacher and coach. Tommy Thompson and I worked side by side each other for 15 years at UNC Pembroke. He was the department chair and had faculty that were my coaches. I was athletic director that had coaches report to me that were his faculty members. It was a unique relationship that worked because Tommy and I trusted each other. There is a great story on Tommy Thompson and his career in our local newspaper The Robesonian.
When you work with someone for as long as I did you get to see what their core values are. Tommy was someone who never would enter the classroom without being meticulous prepared. I often would see him prep four hours for a three hour evening class.
Tommy despite his gruff drill sergeant approach to people was actually a caring leader who would bend over backwards to help a student who wanted to help themselves. The stories about him presenting in class are legendary at UNCP. I have graduate students talk about Tommy beginning his lectures when his left foot entered the classroom. Tommy didn’t greet his students and ask how they were doing he just dived right into the material.
When you were in class with Tommy Thompson he was going to be prepared and expected you to do the same. If you weren’t there was a chance for minor riducle. I have had students tell me on how he would respond when a student would get a question wrong in class. One classic example was in a Physiology Graduate course he was teaching. He asked the class “to define what the synapse does in the human body?” He called on student in the back of the class who said that the synapse is the lining of the knee joint. Tommy miffed that the answer wasn’t even close responded by saying “NO but at least your lips are moving, Synapse is defined as the connection bridging the presynaptic neuron, its dendrite and the axon terminal. Read the material or consider changing careers.”
Tommy was more than just a department chair and outstanding teacher he also is a grandfather. One of the driving forces for him to retire was the calling to spend more time with his two granddaughters and his wife Marion.
The Friend-TOMMY THOMPSON
The Friend of the Friend-MARION THOMPSON
Two leaders who served Lumberton
Tommy and Marion Thompson have been married for a long time and are proud of their daughter Katherine Thompson Bosma who is married to a US Coast Guard Officer named Peter Bosma. Pete and Katherine have given Tommy and Marion two beautiful granddaughters.
Marion is also a UNCP instructor in the foreign language department. She like Tommy will be retiring from teaching. Marion has served the community in so many different ways. She has been a pivotal leader for the Robeson Road Runners over the past decade and she has given that organization so many volunteer hours.
Photo below of Tommy in sweater vest and Marion in red top in foreground at Robeson Road Runner Social Event
Tommy and Marion are also animal lovers and they will be quick to support any activity that benefits the local humane society. Marion in the past was an ardent supporter of former Congressman Mike McIntyre and served as his campaign treasurer for almost all of his campaigns.
Marion and Tommy are both very active people. Tommy is like clock work with his morning bike rides and Marion has completed many a road race in distances from 5K to Marathon. Tommy has completed just as many races as a walker.
These two may be retired but don’t count on them slowing down anytime soon.