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Robert W. Thompson

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Robert W. Thompson Obituary
Robert W. Thompson. Retired Columbus businessman and avid outdoorsman Robert W. Thompson of near Junction City, Ohio, passed away on February 20, 2014, after a long bout with lung cancer. He was 88. Bob is survived by his wife, Sybil (Starkey) Thompson; children, David, Michael, and Peter; his sister, Sally Porterfield; nine grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. Born October 3, 1925, in Marion, Ohio, to Gail L. and Irene Thompson, Bob was raised in Bexley, Ohio, graduating from Bexley High School in 1943, serving as captain of the Lions' track team his senior year. After graduation, Bob enlisted in the United States Navy and served three years as a crewmember on a modified B-24 bomber the Navy called the PB4Y-2 Privateer, flying out of the Philippines on scouting, observation, and weather missions. Bob mustered out of the military in 1947 and enrolled as a business major at The Ohio State University. Pledging Phi Gamma Delta, he took part in a fraternity serenade of the Delta Gamma house, where he first met his future wife, Sybil Starkey. The two would be wed May 14, 1949. In 1948, Bob left OSU to join Thompson and Hamilton, Inc., originally located at 211 North 4th Street in Columbus, a wholesale distributor franchise founded by Bob's father Gail in 1937 and centered on the "revolutionary" invention of the Bendix Automatic Washer, a flagship line of products the company carried for nearly two decades. By then, T & H had acquired a broad inventory of other household appliances, eventually turning to power equipment, primarily the Wheel Horse lawn and garden tractor line, in 1969. When Gail Thompson took over duties as Chairman of the company's Board of Directors, Bob became company president, point man for the company's move in 1976 to 815 Grandview Avenue, and the diversification into additional power equipment lines, including Yanmar tractors, Snapper mowers, and Husqvarna chain saws. By 1982, Thompson and Hamilton remained one of only two remaining independent Wheel Horse distributors in the United States, in large measure because of the rapport and loyalty established between T&H and its core cadre of dealers. After son David became the third generation president of Thompson and Hamilton, Bob took his turn as Chairman of the Board until his formal retirement in 1988. Bob's abiding passion for fly fishing led him to a life membership in the Zanesfield Rod and Gun Club, as well as trips for Atlantic salmon in Labrador, trout in Wyoming, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and for salt water species on the Caribbean flats. In 1972, he purchased a small farm in Perry County, property he managed around rearing and releasing bobwhite quail, fly fishing for bass and bluegill, and hunting waterfowl with his beloved Labrador retrievers. Bob trained his own retrievers, as well as pointing dogs, for hunting and participated in field trials for both. He was an active member of the Ohio Valley Retriever Club during the '60's and '70's, and, more recently, the Lake Hill pheasant club near Ostrander. Bob was active in Junction City's American Legion Post 376, and often credited his selection to take part in a 2010 Honor Flight Network trip to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., as one of the more moving experiences of his life. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to celebrate the life of Robert W. Thompson may make donations to the James E. Fisher American Legion Post 376 Honor Guard, 110 Logan St, Junction City, Ohio 43748. A modest military service will be held at the American Legion post in Junction City at the same address, on March 5, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. with food and drink at the American Legion to follow. CHUTE-WILEY FUENRAL HOME, 118 S. Jackson St., New Lexington is in charge of arrangements. www.chutewiley.com

Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Feb. 22, 2014
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