George B. Thompson Sr., 91, of Dallas, Oregon, died on July 11 after a brief illness.
Thompson was born on Aug. 28, 1927, in Portland, Oregon, the son of Austin and Gladys (Smith) Thompson. He grew up in Portland, completing his high school courses early in order to enlist in the Coast Guard in January 1945.
Sent to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for training, Thompson was selected with several others at the station to sing and perform on stage and radio every night of the 1945 Miss America Pageant, the first one to be held following World War II. During the pageant, he met many of the pageant staff and contestants, including the winner, Bess Myerson.
Thompson moved to Dallas in 1950, after graduating from Lewis and Clark College in Portland. In his first years at Dallas, Thompson taught band, chorus, and radio theory at the high school. Later, he moved to the junior high school, where he taught home room before switching to ninth-grade English. Soon, he received approval to offer classes on journalism, and speech and drama. It was not long before Thompson was given two periods a day to do counseling with students.
In 1962, the National Defense Education Act (spearheaded by Oregon’s then Rep. Edith Green) made possible scholarships and stipends for teachers who sought training as counselors. Thompson was accepted into the program and moved to Portland with his wife, Marjorie, and their four sons for one year. He completed the program and arranged with the University of Oregon to receive a master’s degree in counseling. The family moved back to Dallas, where junior high school principal John Lafountaine held his position open for him.
For the next two decades and more, Thompson served as a guidance counselor for Dallas Junior High School, which became LaCreole Junior High in 1966, with the completion of a new building on LaCreole Drive. Some of his other service to education includes a term on the Supervisory Committee of MaPS (Marion and Polk Schools) Credit Union and a term on the board of the Oregon Education Association. For 35 years, he was actively involved with the Dallas Education Association, working with committees to improve teacher pay and benefits.
After 38 years with the Dallas School District, Thompson retired in 1988, and began swimming three mornings a week. He maintained an annual membership at the Dallas Golf Club for 28 years, playing first thing in the morning four and five days a week.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Thompson spent most of the summer driving a bus for the Eldon Cates farm on the Luckiamute River near Pedee. June was strawberry month; then, after a short break, pole beans began in July and ran through most of August; Thompson shared “row boss” duties with several other adults. He picked up kids early in the morning and delivered them home late in the afternoon.
A couple of years found Thompson coaching his sons’ summer baseball team, too. During these years, he also directed the choir at First Presbyterian Church and wrote some choral music. One of those anthems was sung in 2009 at son Robert’s ordination to the Episcopal priesthood.
A year after his retirement, the Dallas Education Association established the George Thompson Dallas Education Association Award, granted each year since 1989 to a graduating Dallas High School senior who plans to go into education. This award is now worth $2,000, and for many years Thompson attended the annual ceremony to present the award.
Thompson loved puns, had an offbeat sense of humor and, as a Depression-era child, relentlessly fixed and patched nearly everything until they were too far gone to use again. He was an unassuming person, never seeking the spotlight, fair and generous; over the years, he influenced the lives of many Dallas students and fellow teachers. His is a legacy worthy of pursuit.
Thompson’s wife of 48 years, Marjorie, died of cancer in 1996.
Their four sons survive: Carl (Katherine), of Carlsbad, California, Lee (Masako), of Tokyo, Japan, Robert (Pamala), of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and George Jr. (Beverly), of Black Mountain, North Carolina. He also leaves five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held Thursday, July 18, 2 p.m., at the Bollman Auditorium at Dallas High School.. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of one’s choice.