Tompkins Jr., 62, Marriott Corp. executive

W. H.

January 06, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William H. Tompkins Jr., a retired Marriott Corp. executive who was also one of Johns Hopkins Hospital's longest-living heart transplant recipients, died of pneumonia Tuesday at the hospital. The Woodstock resident was 62.

Mr. Tompkins retired in 1984 as a Marriott vice president in charge of health-care services at 55 hospitals throughout the nation.

He began his career with the food-service, restaurant, hotel and theme-park corporation as a "curber" at Marriott's Hot Shoppe in Roslyn, Va., waiting on customers who arrived by car at the drive-in.

Mr. Tompkins' all-American boy good looks and hustle served as the inspiration for the Hot Shoppes corporate logo, which was worn by waiters and other staff and appeared on the restaurant's signs.

J. Willard Marriott Sr., who in 1927 founded the business that grew from a single Washington root beer stand to today's Marriott Corp., described Mr. Tompkins as a "great curber" in autographing a 1950 photo that featured Mr. Tompkins in his characteristic pose.

In 1984, Mr. Tompkins became Johns Hopkins Hospital's ninth heart transplant recipient after being diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart muscle.

"When Bill had his transplant there were perhaps 50 or 100 done nationwide, whereas today we do 2,000 or 3,000," said Dr. Edward Kasper, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplantation Program and an assistant professor of medicine. "It was a risky business then and still kind of experimental, but he was a determined and tough man."

Pat Sullivan, a clinical and administrative secretary in cardiology services at Hopkins who knew Mr. Tompkins for 10 years, described his reaction to the diagnosis of a transplant: "He used to say, 'It's better than lunch with the woodchucks, and I'll do whatever I can to live.' "

Mr. Tompkins was waiting for a heart and kidney transplant when he developed pneumonia and died.

He often spoke to prospective transplant patients at the hospital to help allay their fears.

"He used to say to the patients, 'Is it worth going through all of this? I did and I'm doing what I want to,' " said Dr. Kasper. "He loved life and virtually nothing got that guy down. He liked being outside and doing farm work."

Mr. Tompkins enjoyed riding in timber horse races and was master of the Howard County -- Iron Bridge Hounds Hunt Club.

Deeply religious, he served as a deacon at Immanuel Inter-Faith Church in Silver Spring and as an outreach counselor with the Billy Graham crusade.

Born and raised in Silver Spring, he was a 1951 graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and continued his education at Texas Western University, now the University of Texas-El Paso. He served in the Marine Corps from 1953 until his discharge in 1956 with the rank of sergeant.

Services are set for 10 a.m. today at Immanuel Inter-Faith Church, 16819 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring.

Survivors include his wife of 19 years, the former Brenda Gayle Ray; a son, Dr. William C. Tompkins of Cumberland; two daughters, Diane Marie Ruckert of Grantsville and Donna Lee Hughes of Palm Desert, Calif.; a brother, Robert C. Tompkins of Shallotte, N.C.; a sister, Bettie Jane Thompson of Cary, N.C.; and grandchildren. He and the former Patricia Ann Smith were married 20 years before she died in 1979.

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