JoAnn Thompson, 59, manager of well-known seafood restaurant

September 05, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

JoAnn Thompson, an office manager who was a former co-owner and vice president of Thompson's Original Sea Girt House, died of cancer-related heart failure Monday at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Towson resident was 59.

Born JoAnn Chilcoat in Baltimore and raised in Overlea, she graduated in 1963 from Overlea High School. After attending cosmetology school, she was a beautician with D'Aragon hairstylists at the old Stewart's department store near Anneslie in Baltimore County. She later earned a business administration degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

In 1967 she married George W. Thompson Jr., who survives her. His family had founded a popular seafood and fried chicken restaurant in 1885 on the Patapsco River banks in what is today's Canton industrial waterfront.

When Mrs. Thompson became associated with the restaurant, it had relocated to York Road in Govans. There she worked alongside her husband, mother-in-law and father-in-law, and eventually became its business and kitchen manager.

Mrs. Thompson was also a devotee of Chesapeake Bay cooking, including her own favorites, veal Chesapeake, cream of crab soup and lump crabmeat-stuffed soft crabs.

She experimented with and enhanced the Thompson family's crab cake recipe and produced one that had no breading or filler.

"She was the absolute guardian of that recipe," said a longtime family friend, Eric Johnson of Timonium.

Her crab cakes remained on the menu while the restaurant was on York Road and after its 1986 move to 83rd Street in Ocean City.

"She was a take-charge person who kept everything moving," Johnson said. "She was well known for her managerial skills and ability to oversee details. She worked long hours and seemed to enjoy every minute of it."

Before she and her husband sold the business in 1997, she was its vice president. She hired its staff, which increased to 75 in the summer, ran its advertising and was its kitchen manager.

"She ran her kitchen well and kept the staff smiling and in a good humor," said Pino Tomasello, owner of Fresco's Restaurant, which now occupies the former Sea Girt House location in the resort. "She had a marvelous reputation in Ocean City restaurant circles."

From 1986 to 1988 she was also office manager for Anderson Stokes Real Estate in Ocean City.

In 1998 she became office manager for Scientific Specialties and Mid-State Oil Refining Co. in Hanover, a post she held until bad health forced her to retire last year.

Mrs. Thompson was a former board member of the Maryland Restaurant Association, whose members named her the 1992 Maryland Restaurant Woman of the Year.

She was also a past president of the Ocean City Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Association. She sat on the parish council of St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church in Ocean City and was a benefactor of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Shrine of St. Jude. She was also active in the state's economic development council.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

In addition to her husband, survivors include her parents, Robert W. and Dorothy Collier Chilcoat of Parkville; three sons, Brian Keith Thompson of Charlotte, N.C., Michael H. Thompson and Brendan Wade Thompson, both of Boulder, Colo.; and a brother, Robert W. Chilcoat Jr. of Phoenix.

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