Frank E. Thompson, 75, helped create car dealerships

September 07, 1998|By Sarah Pekkanen | Sarah Pekkanen,SUN STAFF

Like so many other Baltimoreans, Frank Edmund Thompson, whose family owns auto dealerships in eastern Baltimore County, planned to spend yesterday welcoming the Ravens to their new football stadium, with his son and grandsons by his side.

Instead, Mr. Thompson's family gathered to grieve after he suffered a heart attack in his sleep Friday night and died at his Dundalk home. He was 75.

Mr. Thompson set an inspirational example of how far a man with a sixth-grade education could go, his family said. He left school to work in his father's gas station in Dundalk and helped build the business into the Thompson Automotive Group. Today, the company's eight dealerships sell Lincolns, Mercurys, Toyotas and Jeep Eagles.

He worked hard, but the Baltimore native made time to play.

"I think if we could have buried him with his golf shoes on, he would have been happy," said his son, Douglas Thompson of Bel Air.

Mr. Thompson loved the sport so much that after he retired 10 years ago as vice president of the family firm, he spent winters in Kissimmee, Fla., playing golf. But he always returned.

"That was the family rule," his son said. "The family that lived together, stayed together."

Mr. Thompson took the rule to heart -- at one point, he lived next door to his brother, who lived next door to their father.

Mr. Thompson's love of sports didn't stop with golf. He cheered on the Orioles and, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, raced hydroplanes. Later, when his nephew took up the sport, Mr. Thompson was always there to cheer his racing boat.

"He was my right-hand man," said Ron Thompson, the nephew. "He traveled with me up and down the country."

During World War II, Mr. Thompson served as an Army infantryman. He was a member of the Masons and the Edgemere Moose Lodge.

The man everyone called "Uncle Gus" -- the reason has been lost to time -- particularly liked helping children, his family said. "He really loved to be involved in the community," his son said. "He loved to laugh, and he loved life."

Mr. Thompson's wife, the former Lois Tallagsen, died Feb. 9, 1976, their 30th wedding anniversary.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Duda-Ruck Funeral Home of Dundalk.

He also is survived by three daughters, Carol Cardone of Indiana, Pa., Sharon Laxton of Dundalk and Roxanne Fritsch of Essex; a brother, Edmund Frank Thompson of West Inverness; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 9/07/98

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