Longtime Brainerd businessman W.W. "Bill" Thompson died Tuesday at Woodland Good Samaritan Village. He was 90.
Thompson owned W.W. Thompson Concrete Products from 1946-1980. He took the business over from his father and uncle, who started it in 1909. His son, Todd, currently runs the business.
"He was a very civic-minded guy," Todd Thompson said in a phone interview Wednesday. "He did an awful lot for the community of Brainerd."
Bill Thompson and Yibby Knudsen graduated from Brainerd High School together and remained friends throughout their lives. The two enjoyed several activities together, including regular golf outings with Marv Campbell and Wayne Fezler.
Knudsen said Thompson was strong-willed and didn't hesitate to tell people his opinion.
"He was a good friend. He was true," Knudsen said. "He always had an opinion on things and they were usually right. He didn't hesitate to state them, either.
"He was a good guy. Not a very good golfer, but neither am I."
W.W. "Bill" Thompson, in this photo from the 1960s, was operating a concrete block manufacturing machine soon after Thompson's business, W.W. Thompson Concrete Products, opened on Industrial Road in south Brainerd. Thompson died Tuesday at the age of 90.
A lifelong Brainerd resident, Thompson was drafted into the Army just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He went to officer candidate school at Fort Sill, Okla., and graduated as a second lieutenant. He was sent to the Field Artillery at Fort Bragg, N.C., and then to the South Pacific, where he was promoted to captain. In 1950, he served in the Korean War with the 194th Tank Battalion.
When he returned to Brainerd in 1946, before leaving for the Korean War, he purchased his uncle's share in the concrete business and became a partner with his father, R.B. Thompson. Bill ran the block machine, delivered the blocks and poured concrete basements when he started with Thompson Concrete.
"The business was our lives and still is," Todd Thompson said. "It's a family business and it's been awful good to the Thompson family."
He married Sue Avelsgard on Nov. 23, 1946. Sue died in November 2004. They are survived by son Todd (Roxanne) Thompson of Brainerd; daughter Kay Meyer of Grand Rapids, Mich.; grandchildren Brett and Sara Thompson of Brainerd, Michael Koering of Brainerd and Alyssa Bok and Ian Meyer of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and two great-grandchildren.
Bill Thompson was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Exchange Club; a member of the Brainerd Rotary Club, serving as president in 1963; a past president of Build Brainerd Inc.; served on the Board of Directors of the Brainerd Chamber of Commerce; and was a charter member of the Board of Directors for Camp Confidence.
He also was a past president of the Edison School PTA; played in the Oriental Band and served as it president; was active in youth baseball and donated to the parks and recreation in Brainerd; a charter member and past president of the Minnesota Concrete Products Association; a trustee and financial chairman of the Park United Methodist Church Board of Directors; and a board member of the Brainerd Technical College trust association.
He also served two terms on the Brainerd City Council, four years on the city's parks and recreation board and on the planning commission.
Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Park United Methodist Church with Pastor Rory Swenson officiating. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd. Friends may visit from 5-8 p.m. Friday at Halvorson-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Services and one hour before services Saturday at the church.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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