Joseph Charles "Shorty" Thompson, a retired printer who had been an active member of Centennial-Caroline Street United Methodist Church for more than 60 years, died Feb. 9 of complications from gastric surgery at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 79.
The son of a truck driver and a homemaker, Mr. Thompson was born and raised in East Baltimore.
When he was 14, he was hit by a streetcar, which caused a loss of hearing in one ear and partial amputation of a foot.
"He made many trips to the hospital and went through a lot. However, he'd run and play with his sisters and brothers and never let it become an impediment to him," said a daughter, Joanne Thompson Kess of Woodlawn.
Mr. Thompson had worked as a pawnshop clerk and later worked for more than 20 years for H.S. Crocker Lithography Co., mixing and matching colored inks. He retired in 1981 on a medical disability.
Mr. Thompson, who had been a longtime resident of East 41st Street, had been a member of Centennial-Caroline Street United Methodist Church since the 1940s, where he "served faithfully in many capacities," his daughter said.
He had served on the church council, usher board, finance committee and pastor parish relations committee. He was a lay leader and an active member of United Methodist Men.
Until failing health intervened, it was Mr. Thompson who would arrive early Sunday mornings at the East Monument Street church in order to make sure the heat and air conditioning was turned on.
"During the week, if someone needed to get into the church to take care of business, they could always call him and he would make the trip to open the church," Ms. Kess said.
"It seems like he's been a member forever. He did everything in the church you could do as a lay person. He was the pastor's right hand and held the memory of the church," said the Rev. Cynthia B. Belt, who is pastor of Centennial-Caroline Street United Methodist Church.
"He was very happy to be a servant of the church and had a tremendously strong faith. He had God's love in his life," said Dr. Belt. "Joe was an intelligent and quiet person but when he had something to say, he said it."
Dr. Belt said he had a fondness for the church's young members.
"He was always excited about the young people and he was ecstatic when they taught him things. The young people respected him tremendously," she said. "He was a very spiritual man who always had an encouraging word. He will be greatly missed."
Toussaint Smith, who is a lay leader at the church, is an old friend.
"He was a firm reader of the Bible and its interpretation. He took on the character of those he read about. What he was on the outside, he was on the inside," Mr. Smith said.
"He lived with hope and the promise of God. He never wanted fame or fortune. Everyone can attest to that," he said. "He was real. There are not too many like him and what a legacy he leaves."
Mr. Thompson enjoyed spending time with his family.
"During the early years, Joe was always the designated referee for the volleyball game at summer family gatherings, running up and down and blowing his whistle," his daughter said. "He was a very jovial person who kept those around him laughing."
Mr. Thompson was an avid duckpin bowler and had been a member of several leagues. He enjoyed completing home improvement projects and was a "real Mr. Fixit," Ms. Kess said.
He also like collecting tools, playing pinochle and doing crossword puzzles.
"When enjoying a good meal, he'd say, 'This is some kind of good,'" his daughter said.
He was a longtime member and treasurer of the Spinoza Social Club until it disbanded in the 1980s.
His wife of 50 years, the former Dorothy Allen, died in 2006.
Services were Thursday at his church.
Also surviving are another daughter, Charlene Thompson of Baltimore; a brother, Ronald Thompson of Baltimore; three sisters, Guinevere Redd of Pikesville, Patricia Thompson and Brenda Thompson, both of Baltimore; and two grandsons.