Dr. W.R. (Bob) Thompson

September 30, 1933 ~ June 18, 2024

Listen to this obituary

Dr. W. R. Thompson, Jr. (Bob) passed away peacefully at the Arbor in Ridgeland, MS on June 18, 2024. Bob was born in Indianola, Mississippi on September 30, 1933 to W.R. and Mabelle Smith Thompson. Bob grew up in Starkville, Mississippi graduating from Starkville High School in 1951. He followed his father’s footsteps earning a B.S. in agronomy from Mississippi State University in 1955. During his undergraduate years, he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity where he served as President and was instrumental in the building of the Kappa Sigma house on fraternity row. After graduating from MSU, he married his high school sweetheart, Anne Rutledge, and served a two-year tour in Germany as a Lieutenant of Artillery with the U.S. Army. Upon his discharge, he served 10 years in the Mississippi National Guard while working as an assistant county agent in Mississippi then during the pursuit of his M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy at MSU. He was an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University prior to joining the Potash and Phosphate Institute (PPI) where he retired as the Mid-South Director in 1991. At the time of his retirement, Dr. David W. Dibb, President of PPI stated, “Bob Thompson has devoted his professional life to service, service to the field of agronomy, to the fertilizer industry, to the farmers of South, and to all of agriculture,” As Mid-South Director, Bob coordinated research and education programs for PPI in the Southern U.S. He conducted numerous fertilizer dealer schools, workshops and training sessions and he maintained a close professional relationship with researchers emphasizing a greater understanding of potassium nutrition for cotton. He also co-authored later versions of “The Pasture Book” with his father, WR Thompson. Bob was instrumental in developing the annual Southern Extension-Industry Agronomists Workshop and he worked closely with forage crop groups in several states. He received the Merit Certificate from the American Forage and Grassland Council; he was a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, he also provided service as the President of the Mississippi Agricultural Industrial Council and Vice President of the Foundation for Agronomic Research. In the 1980’s, he was invited to work with the Chinese Soil Science Society. After his retirement from PPI, he worked as a consultant for the Mississippi Chemical Corporation and later continued to consult for the Sanders Company in Cleveland, MS.

An avid golfer, Bob was a founding member of the Starkville Country Club where he later served a term as President. He was also an enthusiastic birder and was often found with his binoculars and one of his field guides. After his retirement, he combined his love for the outdoors and birding with volunteer service at the Noxubee Refuge. A member of the First United Methodist Church of Starkville, MS for over 80 years, Bob and his wife, Anne, were founding member of the Inquirers Sunday School class. He developed life-long friendships with his many golf buddies and together with his wife, Anne, enjoyed close friendships with many of the members of their Sunday school class and couples bridge club who often gathered for family cookouts and an annual New Year’s Eve party.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, W. R. and Mabelle Smith Thompson, his brother, George Thompson and one niece, Diana Thompson. He was a beloved husband, father and brother. As Grandpop, he had a special relationship with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Dr. Anne Rutledge Thompson; his daughter, Dr. Barbara T. Alexander, (Mike Segura) of Brandon, MS; son, Glenn R. Thompson (Ellen) of LaGrange IL; his sister, Betty T. Allen (Bill) of Flora, MS; four grandchildren, DeBow A. Padgett (Brian) of Ridgeland, MS; Alexander Thompson of LaGrange, IL, Dr. Douglas Alexander (Erik) of New Orleans, LA , and Lisa Stulgate of Oswego, IL; four great grandchildren, Elizabeth, Alli Mae, Ella, and Shane; one nephew, Billups Allen and two nieces Patty Erwin and Missy Allen.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the many wonderful caregivers who cared so much for Bob during these past few years, including Enhabit Hospice.

Visitation is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, 2024 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. at Welch Funeral Home in Starkville, MS with the service immediately following. Burial will be at Memorial Garden Park Cemetery in Starkville.

Memorial donations can be made in Bob’s honor to Friends of Noxubee Refuge, Attn: Donations Chair 13723 Bluff Lake Road, Brooksville, MS 39739 (friendsofnoxubeerefuge@gmail.com). You can leave the family a condolence at www.welchfuneralhomes. com.

Leave a Comment