THOMPSON--Wade F. B., 69, of New York, NY and Old Black Point, CT died peacefully after a long, dignified battle with cancer. He is survived by his devoted wife of 42 years, Angela, his children, Charles A. Y. Thompson and Amanda Jane Thompson Riegel, his daughter-in-law, Olya A. Y. Thompson, son-in-law Richard E. Riegel III, and six grandchildren. Born in Wellington, New Zealand July 23, 1940, Mr. Thompson came to New York City in 1963 and received a scholarship to New York University. Prior to this, he graduated from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, which in 2004 awarded him with an honorary doctorate to mark his achievements in business. After a lifetime of hard work and dedication, Mr. Thompson was chairman, president and CEO of Thor Industries Inc, the world's largest manufacturer of recreation vehicles and a major builder of buses in the United States. He co-founded Thor with his partner, Peter B. Orthwein in 1980 and the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1986. Since arriving in New York 46 years ago, Mr. Thompson has been inspired to give back to his adopted city, most significantly in the founding of the Seventh 7th Regiment Armory Conservancy. For 15 years he worked tirelessly with Elihu Rose to save the Park Avenue Armory at 66th Street. His determination to preserve this important national landmark is finally a reality and for Mr. Thompson it stands as a monument to the city's character and quality of life. For their work on the armory project Mr. Thompson and Mr. Rose received the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis medal given by the Municipal Art Society for their outstanding contribution to the City of New York. In 2008 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, Mr. Thompson received the Restore America Hero Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for his dedication to landmark conservation. The recent renovation of the landscape between Bethesda Fountain and the Loeb boat house in Central Park by Mr. Thompson and his family displays their dedication to improving the quality of all New Yorkers' lives. In recognition of their lifelong commitment to the park, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson received in June this year the Frederick Law Olmsted award from the Central Park Conservancy. A true believer in cancer screening and early detection, Mr. Thompson founded the Drive Against Prostate Cancer in 2000. The Drive, consisting of two Thor mobile medical vehicles, has traveled coast to coast offering free prostate cancer screenings to over 100,000 men, largely the under-served and armed forces veterans. Mr. Thompson, a five time cancer survivor himself, devoted enormous energy to funding cancer research. In 2007 he was the recipient of the Cancer Research Institute's Oliver R. Grace award for distinguished service in advancing cancer research. A man of great passion and dedication, Mr. Thompson will be remembered as a true New Yorker. A celebration of the life of Wade F.B. Thompson will be held at the Park Avenue Armory at 66th Street on Friday, December 18, 2009 at 11:00am. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Mr. Thompson's memory to the Park Avenue Amory, 643 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065 or the Central Park Conservancy, 14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022.
Published in The New York Times on Nov. 14, 2009