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Harold "Butch" Thompson

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Harold "Butch" Thompson BENNINGTON, VT. Harold Rand "Butch" Thompson made this world a much better place. Not just for his kind ways, his patience, or his sense of humor, but he made this world a much better smelling place. Mr. Thompson, or Butch, as he was known to many, holds numerous patents, and was the inventor of many innovative packaging designs, including the roll-on deodorant bottle, and helped create the technology behind gel deodorants during his 30 years with the Gillette Company. His good friend Ron Guimond, fellow engineer at Gillette said, "Harry was the best engineer Gillette ever had, and he never knew it." Mr. Thompson died Monday at Maury Regional Hospital Columbia, Tenn., after battling cancer. He was 64. Even in the hospital, Mr. Thompson tinkered. He made his bed more comfortable by rigging it with wooden dowels so he could adjust the height more easily. "He was always thinking of different ways and better ways to do things. Even in his hospital bed," said his daughter, Suzanne Thompson, of Nashville, Tenn. "He was constantly thinking, doing and drawing." At his home, he made switches for his pool with bed parts, he designed a hammer that pulled nails out more easily without leaving a mark. He built sheds for his children without plans. "He had this incredible love for constantly moving and constantly doing things," his daughter said. "He loved life." Born on Dec. 14, 1943 in North Adams, Mass., he grew up in neighboring Williamstown, and graduated from the former Williamstown High School, where he was the pitcher on the baseball team. The highlight of his high school sports career was striking out the later-famous shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles, Mark Belanger, who then played for rival school, Pittsfield High School. "I struck him out, but it was his third time up to bat that inning," Mr. Thompson always said as he retold the story to his children. He earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and was an honorary member of Tau Beta Phi Engineering Society. An engineer at heart, Mr. Thompson was his own perpetual motion machine, his family said. He loved anything that moved. He built his own Formula V Racecar and raced it at Watkins Glen, N.Y., track. He loved NASCAR before it was cool and went to races with his daughter. "One of my best memories is the big smile on his face the first time we went to Pit Road," she said. He also flew planes and was an avid cyclist just missing a chance to ride for the national cycling team when he was younger. "They took the top three. He was fourth," his daughter said. Mr. Thompson then turned his attention to running. He ran the Boston Marathon at least four times. When he was 60, he ran the famed 26.2 mile course in 3 hours, 10 minutes. "He was always having fun with everything," Suzanne Thompson recalled. "He had this incredibly positive attitude." He even took his death in stride. After a wonderful conversation with his family at his beside, Mr. Thompson turned to his doctor and said, "OK, doc. It's a rap." He leaves include his wife, Janet DeGregory Thompson of Culleoka, whom he married April 25th, 1969; a daughter, Suzanne Thompson of Nashville; two sons, Andrew Thompson and his wife, Dr. Shannon McDonald, of Nashville and Matthew Thompson of Nashville, and a sister, Priscilla Medeiros and her husband, Joseph, of Pownal, Vt. FUNERAL NOTICE: The family will visit with friends on Saturday May 31, from 10 to noon at MAHAR and SON FUNERAL HOME in Bennington, Vt., followed with a prayer service conducted by the Rev. Eugene Kemp at noon. The burial will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery in Pownal. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lance Armstrong Foundation or St. Jude's Children's Hospital, through the Mahar and Son Funeral Home, 628 Main St. Bennington, VT 05201. Guestbook condolences may be made at www.maharandsonfuneralhome.net.
Published in Bennington Banner on May 27, 2008
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