NORMAN — Edwin Arthur Thompson died Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in Norman. He was born Aug. 23, 1927, outside of Okemah on the family farm.
He was the next to the youngest of nine children of Simon J. Thompson and Verona Adline Thompson, formerly Beddoe, a family line that he was particularly proud of. He had many fond memories of his life on the family farm, and he frequently returned to the site to relive some of those memories and share those memories with friends and family members, especially his great-nieces and nephews.
Unfortunately, as hard times hit when he was a child, the family lost that farm. By this time, his older brothers and one older sister had left the family and started their adult lives, with several of his brothers joining the military. With his mother and one sister, Louise, Edwin moved to Oklahoma City, where he attended and later graduated from Central High School in 1947. During this time, he worked various jobs, but he was most proud of his work at a movie theater where, as a young man, he advanced to assistant manager.
World War II saw several of his brothers drawn into the war effort, and as often happened, one of his brothers, Pete, who was in the Navy in the South Pacific, had his ship sunk by the Japanese while he was on board, injuring his foot severely and sending him into shark-infested waters for hours. Pete survived but required extensive time in a military hospital in San Francisco. As Pete was allowed visitors, his mother took Ed and his younger sister, Louise, to California to live during that time. While they were there, Ed — never one to be idle — took a job delivering telegraphs on a bicycle he had purchased.
After their return to Oklahoma City and his graduation from high school, Ed could not wait to follow in his older brothers’ footsteps, who he tremendously admired, by joining the Army. This was just after the end of World War II, as soon as he became old enough to enlist. He was trained and sent to Japan in the Army of the occupation. He had found his home for the next 30 years of his life.
Following his service in Japan, his next foreign post was in Korea during that conflict. He had many stories of his time there, both during the conflict and in the time immediately after the end of hostilities when he served on the edge of the DMZ, where he could look over into North Korea. It was during this time that he became interested in photography and took and developed many pictures of the troops, the people and the landscape of the area where he served. He returned to the United States and served at various Army posts. As the Vietnam conflict began, he was sent into action again, serving three tours of duty there.
All the time he was advancing in rank, culminating in his promotion to the highest possible enlisted rank of sergeant major. After the end of his Vietnam service, he was stationed in Germany, where he finished his military carrier in 1975. He had found a second home in Germany because he had met the love of his life, Gerlinde Miess. They were married there, and he entered civilian life and worked at a financial services agency as a manager.
Over time, Ed and Gerlinde decided that they would like to relocate to Ed’s home state of Oklahoma, and they purchased a home in Norman. Here, Ed attended classes at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a second college degree; Gerlinde also attended, earning a master’s degree in German, and then was accepted as part of the teaching faculty at OU. Ed continued to advance his education and studied for and received his license as a real estate agent, which he used over a number of years.
Ed and Gerlinde’s home was a great source of pride, and while their health allowed, they were avid gardeners with flowers, fruit trees and vegetables covering their yard. They traveled back to Germany to visit family often, and when their relatives would come here to visit, they seemed to particularly enjoy driving them around the western United States. Ed had made many acquaintances around the world in his military travels and he had found family members from as far away as England, and all of these he loved to correspond with over the years.
Ed was preceded in death by his wife of almost 30 years, Gerlinde Miess Thompson; his father, Simon J Thompson; his mother, Verona Adline Beddoe Thompson; brothers Percy, Roy, Myron, Herbert, Jay and Pete Thompson; sisters Lucille Thompson Dunson and Louise Thompson Wolf; and two nephews, Bo Robbins and Jack Edwin Thompson.
He is survived by his two sisters-in-law, Rosi Miess Fernengel and Angela Miess; brother-in-law, Michael Miess; nieces and nephews Juhree Robberson and husband Jim, Susie Mercer and husband Larry, Michelle Hannon and husband Jeff, Veronica Thompson, Larry Thompson and Elizabeth Thompson; and a host of other family members.
Memorial services for Ed will be 11 a.m. Saturday at the Primrose Event Center.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Primrose Funeral Service.
For condolences and memorialization, visit primrosefuneralservice.com.
Norman Transcript, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013