James D. “Dick” Thompson

September 3, 1916 - June 5, 2014
James D. “Dick” Thompson

J.D. “Dick” Thompson, Sr. of Leland, NC went to his heavenly home on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

He was born (the first time) on September 3, 1916 on a farm in Salulston Township, Wayne County, NC. He was the first child of the late Council Best Thompson and Gertie Parks Thompson. He was preceded in death by brothers Oswald, Lewis, and Joe Thompson. “Dick” is survived by his wife of 31 years, Doris Newsome Thompson and his children by a previous marriage, J. D. Thompson, Jr., Dick Johnson Thompson, Robert Council Thompson and wife Meg; grandchildren Summerlin Thai Thompson, Roscoe and Mary Parker Thompson; sisters Alta Brown of Murfreesboro, NC and Jeanette Morris and husband William of Hilton Head, SC; numerous nieces and nephews; step children Michael, David and Christopher Dawson and wife Jan, Stephanie Dawson Mintz and husband Mike; step grandchildren Michael Mintz, William and Joseph Dawson and the late Phil Dawson.

Dick graduated from Goldsboro High school in 1933 and after traveling for two years, attended NC State College, (NC State University). His tuition and other expenses were paid by washing dishes in the dining hall and raking leaves on the campus grounds for ten cents an hour. Dick graduated in 1939 with a BS Degree in Agronomy. He was a Life Member of the NCSU Alumni Association and was inducted into the honorary Agricultural Alpha Zeta Fraternity.

After graduating from NC State, Dick was employed by the NC Agricultural Extension Service as an Assistant County Agent in Caswell County and later in Wake County. After meeting Mr. A. E. Finley in October 1942 and being captivated by his dynamic and persuasive personality, went to work for Mr. Finley on January 1, 1943 as a salesman with NC Equipment Company and later became Senior Vice-President. His relationship with NC Equipment Company continued through 2001 at which time the Company (flagship of the Finley Empire) liquidated and Dick retired at age 85 after more than 50 years in equipment sales.

The State of NC had its share of road builders that worked nationwide as well as worldwide and Thompson followed them wherever they went. He was considered by many to be the consummate salesman and still others referred to him as the quintessential salesman. He loved selling and never met a stranger. His customers became his friends. He was never intimated by the depth of the carpet in an office or their hangings on the wall. When the phone rings for Thompson it might be friends anywhere in America or another country.

The equipment business and construction activities took most of Thompson’s time, however, he had time for beef cattle enterprises in NC, FL, TX, NM and CO. He owned a cattle ranch in Trinidad, Colorado which he sold in 1977. He was a charter member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the NC Cattlemen’s Association and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.

While living in the Leland area he had several interests in the Raleigh area…one of which was a unique connection with Yates Mill Associates in the restoration of the more than 256 year old grist mill that he helped restore and is in operation at 4620 Lake Wheeler Road. This historic jewel is non-profit, opened to the public and the sale of the corn meal to visitors keeps the wheel turning. Thompson was a member of the Board of Directors and loved volunteering and telling school children and other visitors the story of this historic mill which has attracted locals as well as visitors from many countries.

Dick was a member of the Good Ole’ Boys Club in Raleigh that meets once a month at the Carolina Country Club; The State Club on Centennial Campus; and on the Steering Committee of The Forever Club, a NC State Alumni related activity.

Dick enjoyed the luncheon meetings once a month with the men in his Brook Crossing Neighborhood of Waterford and many other occasions with neighbors throughout the years.

The family extends thanks to the dedicated Doctors , Pasquariello, Credle, Watson, Brezinski and the Pulmonary Program where he was enrolled and spent many hours enjoying fellowship with staff and friends.

Dick formed a special bond with, John, Dale, Dr. Pierce and Big John and enjoyed their many road trips and adventures. Also among his treasured friends are Sandra and husband Kevin.
Dick was a Christian and his greatest desire was for his children, grandchildren, all relatives and friends to know Christ as Savior and spend eternity in heaven with him.

A Celebration of Life memorial ceremony will be held 2 PM Monday, June 9, 2014 at Wilmington Funeral Chapel.

In lieu of flowers Dick had requested that memorials be made to Yates Mill Associates, Inc., PO Box 14512, Raleigh, NC 27605-0512.

Please share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Sign Guest Book” tab above.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403 910.791.9099


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  • June 08, 2014
    Margaret Lillard says:
    It is hard to think of a world without Dick in it. He is (I can't say "was") a wonderful mentor to me and an inspiration to all of us, whether we knew him via Yates Mill Associates or in some other way. I don't know if I'll last as long as he did, but I hope, when I go, that I will leave behind me the kind of good works, good friends and good memories that Dick has left. I will miss him terribly but am so grateful to have had the chance to know him. Surely he will wear the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7)

  • June 08, 2014
    elaine herzog - a friend says:
    so sorry to hear about Dick's passing. I knew him from pulmonary classes. He always had a big, warm smile for everyone. I can't believe he was 98 - he sure looked good for his age! May God help you ease the pain.

  • June 08, 2014
    karen Eustace says:
    Dick may you rest in peace

  • June 20, 2014
    Rajena Miles says:
    While we are deeply saddened to lose such a special, dear friend, we rejoice in a life well lived. Mr. Dick was such a vibrant, colorful, interesting person. He became the best friend of my Father. I am blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to have Mr. Dick in my life. We shared many great times together; I will forever remember that hearty laugh of his! My thoughts and prayers remain with Doris, the children and grandchildren. Love Always, Rajena Miles