John R. Thompson

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John R. Thompson, 90, of Saxonburg passed away peacefully Sunday at his home.
Born on Sept. 20, 1923, in Ashland, Wis., he was the son of the late Stephen and Anna Christine (Wick) Thompson.
John was raised in Mercer, Wis., and graduated from Mercer High School in 1942.
After high school, he was employed by the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. as a deckhand on a ship carrying iron ore on the Great Lakes. After two seasons, he obtained the rank of wheelsman and received a license of Able Bodied Seaman by the U.S. Coast Guard.
He joined the U.S. Navy and served in the South Pacific. In January 1945, his ship was sunk as mistaken identity by a U.S. Navy submarine. He was reassigned to a light cruiser being repaired in the Brooklyn Navy Shipyard. After discharge from the Navy, John returned to the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. as a wheelsman.
He attended the Wisconsin Institute of Technology where he received a three-year diploma in mining engineering. He transferred to the University of Missouri where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in mining engineering in 1951. While attending college, John worked for the Wisconsin Highway Department and the Climax Molybdenum Co. in Colorado.
After college, he accepted a position as a mine engineer with the U.S. Gypsum Co., in Port Clinton, Ohio. He married Kathleen O'Neill of Freemont, Ohio, in 1953. Shortly after they were married, he was transferred to Oakfield, N.Y., as an assistant mine superintendent.
In 1955, John expanded his role, accepting a position as plant engineer with Penn-Dixie Industries in Petoskey, Mich. He traveled between Petoskey and the Penn-Dixie plant in West Winfield for several years. He relocated to Saxonburg, accepting the position of plant manager at the Winfield plant.
In 1980, John married Duella Colwell and retired in 1983. They traveled extensively and often to Ketchikan, Alaska, where John had many relatives.
He was a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Sarver, VFW Post 894 in Natrona Heights, the National Rifle Association, and Saxonburg VFW Post 7376. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing.
Surviving are his stepdaughters, Linda Fennell and Susan (Roger) Beale; his grandson, Chad (Nicole) Beale; his great-grandson, Brayden, and his multiple nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, Kathleen, in 1977, his second wife, Duella, in 2005, and his three brothers, Chester, Lloyd and William.
Thompson- The friends of John R. Thompson, who passed away Sunday, June 29, 2014, will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Fox Funeral Home, 410 W. Main St., Saxonburg.
A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home with the Rev. James Neal officiating. Interment with military honors provided by the Saxonburg American Legion Post 683 will follow in Sarverville Cemetery.
For more information, please visit


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Fox Funeral Home
410 W. Main St
Saxonburg, PA 16056
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Published in Butler Eagle on July 1, 2014
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