Through the Golden Gate with a smiling face and a joyful heart, Milton Eugene Thompson entered Godís kingdom on Saturday, July 6, 2013, surrounded by love and family as he drew his final earthly breath.
Milton was born in Levelland, Texas, on March 18, 1934, to William Martin Thompson Sr., and Lela Mae Sheffield Thompson. Milton and his family moved to Brownwood when Milton was very young, and Miltonís father, known to those who love him as ďPopĒ or ďRed,Ē established Thompsonís Surplus. As Milton grew up, he enjoyed matinees at the movie theater with his sister, Louise, and he developed his keen sense of humor. Milton also helped his daddy during World War II by delivering water to men who were building Camp Bowie. He was always a hard and willing worker. During his early years, Milton was called upon to pick cotton, often in the shadow of his mother, and also brought fruit from the valley to the central Texas area.
Milton was one of five children. His brothers, Bill and Jim, served in the U. S. Navy, and his other brother, Herman, served in the U. S. Army. Naturally, Milton felt the call to serve his country. He chose to serve the U. S. Air Force. Milton volunteered to serve in 1952, serving in Korea during the Korean War. He received his training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and so began Miltonís life as a young adult.
Shortly thereafter, Milton met a beautiful young lady who played piano at her church. Their paths crossed when they met on a double date, each with someone else. It was love at first sight. Milton courted this young lady, Anna Joyce Roach, with gardenias and watermelon. Joyce, being sensible and cautious, held Milton at armís length in order to take the courting at a slow, leisurely pace, and they were married within one month after they met on July 20, 1956. After the wedding, Milton and Joyce sneaked away from their reception in the floorboard of Joyceís Aunt Elsie Harlowís old Ford to escape the prankster antics of Miltonís practical joking brothers. And so began the love story of Milton and Joyce that has lasted 57 years!
Milton and Joyce moved overseas as Milton continued his military service and were stationed at Sculthrope Royal Air Force Station. They lived in Warham All Saints near Wales Next-to-the-Sea, Norfolk County, England. They made their first home at The Bungalow, making lifelong friends with the English children in the village. Milton built kites for the village children, as well as sail boats, and frequently brought them candy from the base, which made his very popular with the children. Milton and Joyce received their first little bundle of joy, Gene, on July 6, 1958, and flooded the postal service as they sent grandparents photographs of their quaint little family and picturesque England. Milton served as their villageís alert warden, a responsibility that was necessary because of ongoing military strife associated with the first Suez Canal crisis.†
Miltonís military service carried him to Missouri in 1959, and the family rotated from England to Richard Gebaur Air Force Base in Belton, Missouri. They were already expecting blessing number two, Patricia, when they moved, and Patricia entered their lives on April 8, 1960. After a bleak winter and after feeling the call of home, Milton was honorably discharged from the military, and once again the family was on the move, this time on their way home.
Milton, Joyce, Gene, and Patricia set up their lives in Brownwood, much to the happiness and contentment of the proud grandparents. Milton began his civilian business career with the family business, Thompsonís Surplus. They found a church home at Belle Plain Baptist Church, and although their little family seemed full, it was still incomplete. On a bitterly cold Blue Norther Christmas night, Caroline sneaked into their lives, delivered by her Nannie and her Daddy on Dec. 26, 1962, much to the surprise of Dr. Wheelis.
Over the next 50 years, Milton and Joyce and their family filled their lives with love and living. Milton, a 32nd degree Master Mason, learned his secret work from Virgil Cowin as they walked the railroad tracks checking the trains for Santa Fe. He was raised on April 9, 1969, and the teachings of Masonry continued to enrich his life. He and Joyce were initiated into the Order of the Eastern Star, and he quickly became Worthy Patron, serving with Joyce, his cousin, Carmoleta Smith, and Evelyn Myrick. His service also extended to his support of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls, where Patricia and Caroline and their friends looked to him as their Rainbow Dad. Later, when Brownwood added a Demolay Chapter, Milton was there to support the chapter and its inception. Rainbows and Demolays were both very important to Milton because he loved young people, and young people loved him!
Milton spent many years of his life honing his craftsmanship with cabinetry and quickly made a name for himself with architects and the general public in not only the Central Texas area, but throughout the state and the country. Thompsonís Cabinets became a name known to many, and Milton and Joyce worked side by side to grow their business until Milton retired in 2004. Milton loved making people happy, and by building a quality product, he could do just that. Through the years, heís had many young men come in and out of his cabinet shop, and each young man impacted Miltonís life. More importantly, he had the opportunity to influence many young men. He mentored many, and many served as apprentices under his master skill. He had a vested interest in their life paths, and even as each one moved on, Milton followed their progression in life and career. Many of Miltonís pallbearers are those young men that worked closely with Milton as they developed their own life skills.
Milton grew up with a strong Christian influence from his mother. That influence laid the foundation for his marriage and rearing of his children. He practiced what he preached, and he often saw a need and quietly tended to that need with little fanfare or praise. He was a member of Belle Plain Baptist Church where he was ordained as a deacon, Early First Baptist Church, where he also served as a deacon, and First Baptist Church Brownwood. In Miltonís later years when regular church attendance became difficult, Milton and Joyce worshiped and sang in their living room and shared devotions every day. God was always a priority?in times of feast and famine.
Milton is preceded in death by his parents, W.M. and Lela Mae Thompson; two brothers, W.M. (Bill) Thompson Jr. and Jim Thompson; an infant brother, J.D. Thompson; an infant sister, Ima Gene Thompson; and one grandson, Tyler Anthony Thompson.
Milton is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, 11 months, and 16 days, Anna Joyce Roach Thompson, who was the love of his life. He is also blessed with three children and their spouses, Gene and Betsy Thompson of Webb City, Mo., Jim and Patricia Cook of Cross Plains, and Kelly and Caroline Clark of Lubbock. He leaves behind six grandchildren, Troy Thompson and Stephanie Moyes of Fort Worth, J.D. (Jimmie Donald) and Angie Cook of The Colony, Ashley Danielle and Jackie Tennison of Abilene, Macayla EíLizbeth Cook of Rule, Kelsey Logann Clark of Lubbock, and Connor Kelaro Clark of Lubbock. Milton is also survived by four great-grandchildren, Courtney Thompson, Kimberly (Kimmie) Thompson, Kaedynn Schneider, and Tyler Eugene Thompson; and Milton was eagerly awaiting the arrival of great-grandchild number five, Baby Cook to J.D. and Angie in January of 2014. Milton is also survived by his brother, Herman Thompson and his wife Monena of Lake Brownwood; his sister, Louise Bennett of Norco, Calif.; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, as well as many beloved friends.
Miltonís life will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Heartland Funeral Home in Early, Texas. Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday, at the funeral home. Burial will be held at Greenleaf Cemetery immediately following the chapel service. Joyce, Gene, Patricia, Caroline, and Troy cordially invite Miltonís many friends and beloved family members to celebrate Miltonís life.
Condolences can be offered to the family at www.heartlandfuneralhome.net.