Richard B. Thompson
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FORT LEE  Music and tennis seem to have little in common. Richard B. Thompson would have begged to differ.

Mr. Thompson taught both  music for four decades in the Cliffside Park schools and tennis over the years at venues such as the Fort Lee Recreation Center, the Alpine Country Club in Demarest and the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills. He even produced an instructional LP with one of the greats of the game, Arthur Ashe.

Joseph Gemignani of Washington Township was in Mr. Thompson's seventh-grade music appreciation class at Cliffside Park's School 4 in the early '60s. "I remember him explaining that oboe players had to make their own reeds, just as he had to string his own tennis rackets," Gemignani said.

Mr. Thompson, a 58-year resident of Fort Lee and a former Board of Education president, died Friday. He was 82.

The native New Yorker was a tennis star at Newtown High School in Queens and at New York University. He began his Cliffside Park music teaching career in 1951 while continuing to pursue tennis, playing as Dick Thompson.

He competed in the National Tennis Championships at Forest Hills and the National Indoor Tennis Championship at Manhattan's Seventh Regiment Armory. At the latter tourney one year, Mr. Thompson and his brother, Donald, lost a doubles match to future International Tennis Hall of Famers Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Shields. But Mr. Thompson did have a memorable ace against Gonzalez, his son Douglas said.

Mr. Thompson's work with Ashe on the 1974 instructional album, "Learn Tennis With Arthur Ashe," grew out of his years as a teaching pro at Forest Hills.

When Mr. Thompson, long certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association, wasn't teaching the sport, he was writing music. He composed more than 300 songs, including one titled "Bergen County Boogie."

He served on the Fort Lee school board from 1966 to 1972 and was involved in many other local organizations. In 2009, he received the Fort Lee Coalition of the Arts' first Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his promotion of both the arts and tennis.

"He provided a positive influence on the kids of Fort Lee and Cliffside Park," said Tom Meyers, a founder of the arts coalition and Fort Lee's director of cultural affairs. "This was a special guy, a real old-fashioned gentleman, the likes of which you don't see anymore."

Mr. Thompson retired from the Cliffside Park schools in 1990.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joan; his children, Diane Stamberger of Long Branch, Beverly Salierno of Chatham Township and Douglas Thompson of Wyckoff; a brother and four grandchildren.

Services were Sunday at Frank A. Patti and Kenneth Mikatarian Funeral Home, Fort Lee.

E-mail: levin@northjersey.com
Published in The Record on Feb. 1, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
April 5, 2011
Dear Joan, My deepest condolences. We are only two houses down. Please let us know if you need anything! Our thoughts and prayers will always be with you and your family! Mr. Thompson will be missed on our street! Our children, or the "Beverly Hillbillies" as he called them, will always treasure having known him.
John P
February 12, 2011
We miss you Richard Thompson. Tennis. Bethany. Church music with Mrs. Tipton. Music in the air from your home on Beverly Hills. Always a hearty hello. Keeping everything on the street and in the town right. Thank you for the life you showed us. Our heartfelt sympathy to the family and gratitude for such a life...........you took the talents God gave you and shared them....... Joyce & Rich Horan
Richard Joyce Horan
February 11, 2011
Hi Mrs. Thompson,
I hope you are coping well, you are a tower of strength and I hope that you will find comfort in that. I have really enjoyed taking care of Mr. Thompson.
Love, Megan LPN
megan mcfarlane
February 6, 2011
Thank you all for your posts! As a family, we were very lucky to have Richard/Mr. Thompson/Dad in our lives for so many years! He had obvious talents in music and tennis but an even greater love was for him to teach/to give to others. As Christians, we believe he is in a better place now and might even be playing a set of tennis with Arthur Ashe or even playing some music with Glenn Miller. Our best, The Thompson Family!
Douglas Thompson
February 3, 2011
Dear Joan, My deepest sympathy to you and your family. We lost a great guy in losing Richard. I've been trying to play one of the pieces he wrote for Donny a few years ago. He had lots of talent besides being very, very nice. Donny told me he was sick but I didn't expect this. Best wishes to all in a most diffult time. Al Kuhn
Al Kuhn
January 31, 2011
my condolance to you as well. Always enjoyed Richards company when we spoke..
Phl Triantos
January 31, 2011
SORRY WE DIDN'T MAKE THE WAKE. BUT OUR WISHES ARE WITH YOU ALWAYS. OUR CONDOLANCES TO YOU.
Helen Triantos
January 30, 2011
I had Mr Thompson as my music teacher at Cliffside Park. I saw him years later handing out political flyers at the old FL shop-rite. It was a pleasure to see him and talk with him. He was a true gentleman...RIP
tom mancini
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