Robert Benjamin (Bob) Thompson was born January 12, 1926 in Camden, SC. He was the son of James William Thompson, Sr. and Dora Jane Ammons Thompson.
He was preceded in death by his wife Rebecca Harrill Thompson, his parents, two sisters Dora Thompson Jones and Mary Thompson Fouts, one brother James William Thompson, Jr, and a grandson James William Thompson, Jr. He is survived by his three children and their families. He is also survived by one brother Edward Furman Thompson and his wife Marguerite in San Marcos, TX.
His children are Jane Thompson Gurley, Ben Thompson and his wife Carol, and Bill Thompson. His grandchildren are Deborah Huitt, Jaclyn Thompson Padak and husband Ross, Whitney Thompson Boesch and husband Brandon, Maura Thompson, Melanie Thompson Harris and husband Michael, and Matthew Thompson. Great grandchildren are Alexis and Oliver Boesch, Jack and Ava Padak, Emily and Karsen Harris.
Bob grew up in Camden, SC and attended Camden Grammar School and Camden High School. He was an honor student and active in various school clubs. He was active in the high school band and played trombone in high school as well as college. He was student director of his college band at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. While an honor student in college, he enlisted in the US Army on May 31, 1944. He was eighteen years old and felt it his duty to help as best he could during World War II.
Having enlisted in the US Army Infantry at Fort Bragg, NC; he was sent to Camp Blanding, Florida for Basic Training. From there, he was sent to Europe in Patton's third Army, 90th Division (Tough Ombres), 359th Infantry Regiment, Company L. He fought in two European Campaigns, the Rhineland and the Ardennes, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was critically wounded during the Battle of the Bulge and was hospitalized for nine months in Europe and the United States. He returned to the United States on a hospital ship (The RMS Aquitania turned hospital ship) into New York Harbor on VE Day, May 8, 1945. Due to the celebration in the city, the patients were kept on board the ship until the next day and then transported to Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island, the largest Army hospital in the world at that time.
Following his recovery, he went back to Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC to finish his studies. He earned a double major in Biology and Chemistry. While there he also completed Officer’s Training in the Army ROTC and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army upon graduation on May 7, 1947. He remained in the Active Reserves.
During these college years, while visiting Greenville, SC in 1946; he met Becky Harrill. They were married on July 31, 1948 at Caroleen Baptist Church in Rutherford County, NC. Married for almost 71 years, they were quite the team. When you saw one of them, you saw both of them. They enjoyed many of the same things; and together, life was an adventure.
Bob began his work life as a chemist for Duke Power immediately following their marriage. They began their married life in Salisbury, NC where he worked at Duke Power’s Buck Steam Station. In 1950 their first child, Jane, was born. Within months he was called back to active military duty and the family moved to Fort Benning, GA where he served as a US Army Officer in Company E, 30th Infantry. He was part of the Infantry School there, training Korea-bound soldiers in battlefield tactics. They lived there until the Korean War began to wind down and was honorably discharged on April 1, 1953.
After returning to North Carolina, Bob returned to his work as a chemist for Duke Power. Bob and Becky had two sons born in the next three years, Ben in 1953 and Bill in 1956. He was very active in his church, First Baptist Church, Mt Holly, NC. Bob was a Deacon and actively served until his health no longer permitted. He was honored as Deacon Emeritus in more recent years. He taught Sunday School and was a Training Union leader as well. He loved singing in the church’s Sanctuary Choir for over 35 years and then, for a number of years, in the Joy Choir. He took great pride in being on the search committee that called Kenneth Denton as First Baptist Church’s first Minister of Music. He and Becky both served on the committee a few years later that studied and chose the M.P. Moller Pipe Organ Company to build First Baptist Church’s first pipe organ. Music always gave the whole family great joy! Both Bob and Becky instilled that in their children.
Bob enjoyed photography and capturing beautiful scenes across the United States and Canada. He and Becky began developing their own photos in their home darkroom during the 1970s and 1980s. Numerous camping trips were a highlight of family life. Bob and Becky enjoyed travels across the United States and Canada.
He was a man of many talents, but he did not draw much attention to himself and those talents. He could grow a garden, rebuild a car from the frame up, could build or fix anything. He started wielding a hammer as a young boy as he helped his father, a fine finish carpenter in Camden, SC. He also started driving full time at an extremely young age, beginning around age thirteen, driving his father’s rural mail route. His father had some medical problems and his doctor did not want him to drive anymore. So, young Robert started driving the route as his father put the mail in the boxes.
Most important to Bob were God, family, and country. He was a loving father and grandfather, and loved welcoming their six great grandchildren into the family. He enjoyed having the family visit and watching his children and grandchildren grow up to be fine adults.
His family so appreciates all of the love and support of church family and friends who have been so kind and helpful in so many ways: milkshake and orangeade treats, cookies, cobblers, Christmas plants, visits, phone calls, cards and so much more!
His family especially thanks his dedicated, loving caregivers who have been a true blessing to Bob and his family. Sara Howell, Dawn Thompson, Christine Polk, Donna Stamey, Linda Denning, Sherry Knight, and Ava Gardner all gave Bob the best of care and enabled him to live at home.
A graveside service with Military Honors will be held at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, September 20, 2020 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church cemetery, 397 Mt. Pleasant Church Road, in the Sandy Mush community, near Forest City, NC. All are welcome and face masks are requested. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be made to the First Baptist Church Building Fund, First Baptist Church, 300 S. Main St., Mt Holly, NC 28120
Arrangements are in the care of Woodlawn Funeral Home, Mount Holly, NC
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