Nature 14

Hugh White Thompson

April 26, 1951 ~ May 24, 2022 (age 71)


Hugh White Thompson died at home on May 24th, after an 18-month battle with lung cancer, at 71. By his side was his high school sweetheart, Joan, to whom he would have been married for 52 years in August. He would want you to know how very much he loved her.

Hugh was born on April 26th, 1951, the surprise youngest child of Kermit Adrian and Willie White Thompson, of La Grange, NC. He was particularly close to his mother, who instilled in him a love of learning, reading, humor, and adventure. His childhood in La Grange was a mid-century American classic, down to his high school job pumping gas at the local service station and being gifted as a child "the meanest pony that ever lived".

He met Joan Ham at North Lenoir High School and their lives were intertwined from then on. Hugh and Joan were a package deal in everything they did. They married in 1970, while both were students at East Carolina University. They didn't worry too much about the details or frills of their small ceremony: they just wanted to be married to each other. Hugh served in the US Army from 1972 to 1975, and was stationed in Germany for 2 years. There, he and Joan explored Europe and gained a strong conviction about the importance of travel, which they would someday make a priority for their two daughters, Jennifer and Sara.

After the Army, Hugh and Joan settled in Greenville, NC, where Hugh started a 30-year career as a financial advisor for what is now Ameriprise. He always supported Joan's personal and professional endeavors, and after a job took her to Raleigh, retired there to be with her after several years of commuting between Greenville and the capitol city. Retirement was not a state that sat well with Hugh, and he eventually found a second career in real estate, working with and serving as the resident avuncular curmudgeon known as "Blue" with Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston and then DASH Carolina Realtors in Raleigh for several years. Up until the last few months of his life, he hoped he would be able to get healthy and back to work.

Being productive and of service to others were some of Hugh's most deeply held values. Generous to a fault, he was not always good at sharing his feelings verbally, but showed his love for others through acts of service and gifts. He often gained new, life-long interests and passions as a way to connect with his loved ones: Burgundy wine when his older daughter Jennifer met and married a Frenchman; Carolina Hurricanes hockey when his first grandson started playing the sport; subscribing to the online version of the local newspaper from the tiny English town Sara lived in and knowing more about the goings-on there than she did.

Other interests were always there. He loved sailboats and maritime history, was an avid reader, and voraciously watched historical and military documentaries. He was a Duke basketball fan who rarely missed catching a game. He had a soft spot for animals, and became increasingly passionate over the years about rescue dogs, after having the companionship of two of the best ever: Molly, for 14 years, and more recently Winston, who stayed by his side until the end and will now turn his attentions to taking care of Joan.

He was preceded in death by his father, Kermit Thompson, mother Willie White Thompson, brother Kermit "Kay" Thompson II, and sister Betty Ruth Bradshaw. He is survived by his wife Joan, his daughters Jennifer (Xavier) Mouney and Sara Thompson, his grandchildren Julien, Tristan, and Celine Mouney, his brothers-in-law Edward L. Bradshaw and Allen (Glenna) Ham, and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, cousins, and friends.

Hugh's sense of humor and generosity towards others have been recounted by many friends and acquaintances recently. But foremost in everyone's minds is the love he had for his family, and the centrality of Joan to his life and endeavors. 

Truly, he would want you to know how very much he loved her.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, June 2nd, at 11am, at The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville, NC. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Hugh's name to your favorite animal rescue.


Memorial Service
June 2, 2022

11:00 AM
Memorial Baptist Church
Greenville, NC
Greenville, NC 27834

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