Jack Thompson, 84, of Breckenridge, MN, passed away at The Leach Home, Wahpeton, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. With the current health concerns impacting the country, a private family service will be held in the coming days with a larger public service at a later date to honor Jack's life. Arrangements have been entrusted to Joseph Vertin and Sons Funeral Home, Breckenridge.
Jack L. Thompson was born on October 14, 1935, the son of Ernest and Hazel (Williamson) Thompson at Ogema, MN. He grew up there and graduated from New York Mills High School in 1953. Following his graduation, Jack joined the Maritime Merchant Marines and sailed on the USS August Ziezing and the USS Youngstown on the Great Lakes.
Jack joined the U. S. Air Force in November 1954. His basic training took place at Parks Air Force Base in CA. From there he was assigned to Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Sheyenne, WY, where he attended classes in military administration. From there he went to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, IN, for adjutant general school in advanced military administration. Jack was then assigned to Alconbury Air Force Base in Huntington, England, where he served for three years. He was discharged at Chanute Field, in Rantoul, IL.
On October 11, 1958, Jack was united in marriage to Marilyn Jane Anderson at the First Congregational Church in Wadena, MN. He reenlisted that same year, and in October, the couple went to England Air Force Base in LA, where he served until 1962 when he was transferred to Wadena Air Force Base in MN. During this time, he spent seven months in Istanbul, Turkey, where he served as NCOIC of the APO. Following four years of service in Wadena, he was transferred and served in the 29th Air Division in Duluth, MN, where he was assigned to base operations from 1966-1967. The Air Force transferred him to Osan Air Force Base in Korea in 1967 where he served as NCOIC of Division Intelligence. In 1968, Jack was transferred to Vandenburg Air Force Base in Santa Maria, CA. His duties there included tracking satellites. From there, Jack served as Sergeant Major of the University of Wisconsin’s ROTC program. He retired from the U.S. Air Force on February 1, 1975, thirty years from the day that Jack’s uncle, Ray Williamson, was killed in Burma.
Medals awarded to Jack included the Presidential Unit Citation and National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal in Korea, Korean Service Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Following his retirement from the Air Force, Jack worked as a credit manager for his brother at Bob Thompson Motors in New York Mills, MN. At night he cooked for the Colonial Club in Perham, MN, and the Red Otter Supper Club in Otter Tail, MN. Jack also did auctioneer work with Bartels Brothers and worked at Dale Wright’s Jewelry in Perham, MN. From 1974 to 1976 he attended and graduated from Wadena Technical College with a degree in Accounting. In 1977, Jack attended the Reisch World Wide College of
Auctioneering in Mason City, IA, and graduated top in his class. In 1983, Jack purchased land in New York Mills, MN, and became a partner at Hilltop Homes mobile home sales, which he co-owned and managed for five years.
It was during these years that Jack and Marilyn’s three children graduated from New York Mills High School; the same high school that he and Marilyn and their siblings had graduated from.
In 1987, Jack was hired as Veterans Service Officer for Wilkin County, MN, a job that Jack truly enjoyed. Following 18 years of service to veterans in Wilkin County, Jack retired in 2003. Jack also proudly served as the Emergency Management Director for Wilkin County during the Flood of 1997. He also served as the county’s Affirmative Action Officer for five years.
His wife, Marilyn, preceded him in death on October 22, 2007, following a five-year battle with cancer.
In his younger years, Jack enjoyed fishing. He wrote many poems and country-western songs that he enjoyed sharing with his children and grandchildren over the years. Jack had a kind heart and enjoyed helping people and families in need by providing a Thanksgiving meal if needed or by making a monetary donation so a family could purchase Christmas presents. Jack also enjoyed giving a dollar to a “golden girl” each day when out and about in the twin towns, which stems from his time spent serving in Istanbul, Turkey.
Jack is a member of the United Methodist Church in Breckenridge, MN, and served in the Breckenridge Rotary Club for seven years.
He is a Life Member and past Commander of the VFW, Post 2766, Wahpeton, ND; DAV, Chapter 25, Fergus Falls, MN; Military Order of the Cootie, Pup Tent 3, Wahpeton, ND; and a 62-year member and past Commander and state officer of the American Legion, Post 53, Breckenridge, MN. He is also a member of the Minnesota Association of Veterans Service Officers; Life Member of the International War Alliance; and a charter member of AmVets in Wahpeton, ND. Jack also served in the Wilkin County Honor Guard.
Jack will be greatly missed by his three children: Flint (Kelly) Thompson, Eau Claire, WI; Cheryl (Tim) Stoll, Dent, MN; and Joy (Paul) Eichhorn, Breckenridge, MN; grandchildren: Emily (Michael) Neels, Erica (Gerald) Loher, Ennon (Zane) Kotschwar and Elliot (Marissa) Stoll, Jordan Thompson, and Jaclyn (Eric) Kron, and Evonne and Olivia Eichhorn; great-grandchildren: Kaylee, Caleb, Caden, Eden, Easton, Elaina, Ensley, and Elsie; sister: Irene (Duane “Bud”) Frost; his sister-in-law: Bonnie Thompson; and special friend and caregiver Cindy Ekberg & her family, Breckenridge, MN, and her puppy Mia, who brought much joy to Jack.
He was preceded in death by his wife: Marilyn; parents, Ernest and Hazel Thompson; sister, Martha Hanson, and her husband, Glenn; brothers, Robert Thompson, and Jack’s twin brother, James "Pete" Thompson, and his wife Vi.
Obituary submitted by Jack's loving family.
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