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John Thompson

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Thompson, JOHN PHILP. With great sadness and sorrow we regretfully announce the death of John Philp Thompson. John Philp, 77, a life-long resident of Dallas, died January 28, 2003, after a courageous battle with brain cancer. John was born November 2, 1925, at the original St. Paul Hospital, to his beloved parents, Peggy and Jodie Thompson. He attended grade school at Holy Trinity School, then Hotchkiss Preparatory School in Connecticut, and graduated from Highland Park High School in 1942. He attended the University of Texas at Austin for two years before entering the United States Navy. In the fall of 1946, following his discharge, he returned to UT, graduating in 1948 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. During his time at UT, he was manager of the football team for four years, served as president of his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, was a member of the Silver Spurs, the Athletic Council, and was elected to the Student Assembly. Throughout his youth, John worked part-time for his father who in 1927 pioneered the convenience store industry and then founded The Southland Corporation - now 7-Eleven, Inc. In 1948 he became a full-time employee of the Oak Farms Dairy Division of Southland and was elected to its board of directors, transferring to the 7-Eleven Stores Division in 1950. Throughout the fifties he was assistant to his father, and shortly before his father's death in 1961, John was named president and CEO, which he remained until 1986. He became chairman of the board in 1969, a position he held until 1991, when he was elected co-vice chairman until his retirement in 1996. Working side-by-side with his mentor and friend, Herb Hartfelder, throughout the 1960's, 1970's and early 1980's John spearheaded Southland's dramatic evolution and explosive growth outside of Texas, as well as internationally. During John's 43-year stewardship, Southland became a global conglomerate with total annual revenues of $12.7 billion and over 13,000 7-Elevens in the United States, Canada, and 21 other countries. Southland was one of the nation's largest dairy processors and at various times was engaged in some 18 other businesses. During his leadership Southland's name became synonymous with "Jerry's Kids" as the single largest contribution to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, raising $81.5 million. The company's dairies group was the first national corporate sponsor of The March of Dimes, and the company contributed to the National Wildlife Federation to purchase land for a refuge for the American bald eagle. It also funded the construction of the cycling velodrome for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In 1989 the company began a literacy initiative, "People Who Read Achieve," that has raised substantial funding for reading programs and organizations. Although a leading businessman and citizen of Dallas and America, John was unpretentious, never seeking recognition for himself. To the company and its people, John was the very heart and soul of "The Southland Family." He led by example, expecting nothing for others that he did not give of himself. He appreciated the value and contribution that every person made to the organization and treated each with equal respect and dignity. John made immeasurable contributions to numerous civic, corporate and charitable activities. He was a member of the boards of directors of Goodwill Industries, the Salvation Army (Advisory Board), Dallas Community Chest, Hockaday School, and the National Wildlife Federation. He also was a member of the boards of directors and president and/or chairman of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Dallas County Community College District Foundation, Presbyterian Healthcare System, State Fair of Texas, Texas Turnpike Authority, Dallas Musicals, and Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. In addition, he was a member of the boards of directors of First International Bancshares (later Interfirst), Dr. Pepper Company, Keebler Company, and the Super Market Institute, and he served as president of Brook Hollow Golf Club and was a member of Pine Valley Golf Club and the Dallas Country Club. He loyally served UT with continuous commitment and leadership. John was chairman of the Chancellor's Council and on the Executive Committee of the Centennial Commission. He was a member of the Littlefield Society, the Development Board, the Texas Longhorn Foundation Advisory Council, the "200 Horns" Club, and a Life Member of the Texas Exes. Over the years his philanthropic contributions were directed to a number of UT colleges, schools, and special projects. The Joe C. Thompson Conference Center was made possible by generous gifts from the Thompson family and friends. In addition, the Thompson family and Southland joined with the Hartfelder family to establish endowed faculty chairs in the Colleges of Business Administration and Education. In 1984 he received UT's highest honor, the Texas Exes Distinguished Alumnus Award. John was selected as a member of the College of Business Administration Hall of Fame in 1986, and was honored by the Dallas Texas Exes as its Outstanding Alumnus in 1996. That same year he received the distinguished Health Service award from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Hospital Council. In 1991 he was inducted into C-Store New's Retailer Hall of Fame. Most recently the State Fair of Texas recognized his record 40 years of service on its board of directors, the longest board tenure in the Fair's 117-year history, by for the first time naming a building for an individual - The John P Thompson General Services Center. In 2002, the Dallas County College District Foundation named him Director Emeritus for his outstanding service and dedication. John was a dedicated and loving family man. He is survived by his devoted wife, Debra Rutherford Thompson; their daughter Mary Ann Frenk and her husband Josh; daughter Peggy Wolf, and her husband Lloyd; son Doug, and his wife Bonnie; son John Jr., and his wife Diane. He had eight grandchildren: Tyler and Parker Wolf; Liza and Clark Thompson; and Caroline, John, Lauren, and Crawford Thompson. John is also survived by two brothers, Jere, and his wife Peggy and Jodie Jr., and his wife, Dottie; many nieces and nephews; and countless friends. To all who knew John, he was a compassionate, respectful, honest, kind human being. He tried to live a life that would be pleasing to God. He believed in Henry Wells philosophy that, "May we all remember our lives are not measured by the number of years and days we exist, but by what we accomplish while we do live, and good we may render to our fellowman." The family extends deep gratitude and love to Dr. Michael Desaloms, neurosurgeon; Jackie Stitt, nurse; Dr Karen Fink, oncologist; Vanessa Nestor, neuro-oncology nurse and Dr. Wendy Ringe, neuro-psychologist. Also, appreciation and thanks are extended to Audrey Karr and Lisa Harris, Hospice, VNA; and Azzie Jordan, home care professional. Each one of you is truly a dedicated and loving professional who give us 200%. We will always love you. The Rosary will be at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at Sparkman Hillcrest Northwest Highway Chapel, prayed by Father Pat Hanser, CM. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at Christ the King Catholic Church, 8017 Preston Road, Thursday, January 30, 2003 at 10:00 a.m. presided over by Father Pat Hanser. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: John P. Thompson, Chair of Surgery at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, c/o Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation 8200 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, TX. 75231 or The John Philp Thompson Foundation for Research for Brain Cancer at 12225 Greenville Ave. Suite 440, Dallas, TX 75243 attn: Dean Renkes or The John P. Thompson Rising Star Scholars, Dallas County Community College District Foundation, 701 Elm, Suite 700, Dallas, TX 75202. Dignity Memorial Sparkman Hillcrest 7405 W. Northwest Hwy. Dallas (214) 363-5401
Published in Dallas Morning News on Jan. 29, 2003
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