1909 ~ 2013
Great Scot, Jamie Thomson lived 104 grand years of adventure!
Jamie started his life on May 20, 1909, on the high-plains of Montana in the days of the Wild West on the family ranch outside of Fort Benton. He left this world in peace and serenity on June 13, 2013, in Boise, Idaho. Jamie was a proud first-generation American. His father Robert Thomson was from Scotland and homesteaded in Montana by way of Canada where he had been a member of the North-West Mounted Police, stationed at Lethbridge, Alberta. Jamie's mother Thekla Sandberg Thomson, a pioneering woman in her own-right, emigrated from Sweden in 1888 entering the United States at Ellis Island and also homesteading in Montana where she met her husband Robert. Jamie was the youngest of his siblings - John, Thekla and Mary. Jamie and his brother worked summers as horse wranglers in Glacier National Park and appeared in an old Tom Mix movie. They also participated in rodeos throughout the West including the Calgary Stampede riding bareback broncos.
Jamie attended the University of Minnesota where he played on the Golden Gophers football team, and later played professional football with the old Minnesota Pros and had "a cup of coffee" with the Green Bay Packers. He was a member of the Minneapolis Rowing Club where he participated in 8-Man crew. During college, Jamie worked delivering coffee to a little mom and pop grocery store, which turned out to be a front for Al Capone's operations in Minneapolis.
After college, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Minneapolis employed Jamie until he joined the army during World War II. He was stationed with the Army's 42nd Infantry Division ("Rainbow Division") at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma near Tulsa, where he met his future wife, Helen Light, who was serving with the Red Cross. Overseas, he survived the Battle of the Bulge and a brief time as a prisoner of war. Coming home, when asked by a reporter which state he was from, he proudly answered he was from the "United States of America." While he was overseas, their first son James "Jim" was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.
After the war, Jamie returned to his old job in Minneapolis where their sons John and Joel were born. He transferred to Fargo, North Dakota as a General Tire and Rubber Company dealer where their daughter Julie was born in nearby Moorhead, Minnesota.
General Tire transferred Jamie to Boise, Idaho in 1952 so their family drove across the country to their new home - a house in the North End where they lived until the last two years of his life. Jamie and Helen fell in love with Boise and chose to stay here and raise their family.
Jamie was a sportsman all his life. He was general manager for the Boise Braves, a farm team of the Milwaukee Braves professional baseball team (now the Atlanta Braves). It was a family affair at the old ballpark on Walnut Street with his three sons working as scoreboard operator, clubhouse boy and shagger. He continued to scout for various baseball teams throughout the years. A special memory for him was to make an annual pilgrimage with his sons to Baseball Spring Training in Arizona.
He was a true fan of Boise State football and athletics from the first year they moved to Boise and onward. Jamie and Helen had season tickets to the football games and loved to tailgate and travel to various out of town games. Jamie also served as the Rodeo Club Advisor.
Jamie was involved in numerous civic activities. While president of the Boise Optimist Club, he was instrumental in getting the Optimist Youth Football program established where he also served as a team coach, and in getting Camel's Back Park built. With his wife Helen, they helped establish the Boise Ditch Safety Committee, which worked to cover the ditches in Boise to save children's lives. The North End Neighborhood Association ("NENA") was formed in their backyard with the late Senator Frank Church writing the by-laws and articles of incorporation. Jamie and Helen worked on various Fred Norman productions to help raise funds to build the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, and on organizing activities with the Community Concerts Association where Jamie would regularly take tickets at concerts up into the last years of his life.
As director with the Boise Housing Authority, low-income housing was first built in Boise - a proud accomplishment for Jamie. Not ready for retirement, Jamie continued working throughout the years running a small advertising agency finally retiring at age 93.
Jamie was president of the Boise Caledonian Society for over thirty years and would wear his kilt to the Robbie Burns Night celebration every year. He loved the bagpipes and it was always an emotional experience for him whenever Pipe Major Ron Lopez would play.
Jamie was a lifetime member of the First Congregational Church UCC and a member of the Masonic Blue Lodge 32nd degree Scottish Rite. He also served on the Governor's Prayer Breakfast committee for several years. Jamie made numerous lifelong friendships in these fellowships.
A crowning achievement for Jamie was carrying the Olympic Torch at age 92 as it made its journey through Boise on its way to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. He was one of the oldest torchbearers and the oldest to do so unassisted. It was a very special moment in time with the bagpipes playing and all his family gathered around cheering him on to victory.
His parents and siblings preceded Jamie in death (finally reunited with his father after a hundred years). His devoted wife Helen passed away just 15 months earlier. He is survived by his children, James "Jim" Thomson (Donilyn), John Thomson (Bonnie Hopper), Joel Thomson, and Julie Thomson Backe (Michael); grandchildren, Eva Thomson Wohlfahrt (Martin), Jamie Thomson II (Becky), Jennifer Thomson Brozovich (Matt) and Malia BiHe Helen Backe; and great-grandchildren, Braden Thomson, and Tyce and Zoe Brozovich; and a grand-niece Candy Atwood of Missoula, Montana. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the kind and loving staff at the Marquis at Shaw Mountain who cared for him his last two years.
A celebration of Jamie's life will be on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 10:00 am at the First Congregational Church UCC, 2201 W Woodlawn Ave, Boise, ID 83702. Kilts are encouraged!
In lieu of flowers, contributions in the name of Jamie and Helen Thomson may be made to the American Red Cross, the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts or the Idaho Botanical Gardens.
Jamie and Helen are together again dancing the polka.
SCOTS WHA HAE!
Published in Idaho Statesman on Sept. 22, 2013