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A tireless advocate and public servant, “larger than life,” a statesman with unmatched vision and leadership skills, a good friend, fair and honest, a coach, consistent, a people connector, a forward-thinking leader, determined, a people person, treated everyone equally, rock of the community, a man with unshakeable faith, and a loving husband, father, and grandfather. These are qualities that defined R.J. “Hank” Thompson. Though Hank was taken from us much too soon, he touched the lives of many people during his 69 years.
In April 2007, Hank was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. Following his diagnosis, he endured chemotherapy treatments and suffered severe side effects, including the loss of his voice. In spite of his valiant efforts, Hank lost his battle against lung cancer on July 6, 2008.
Hank was a political force in Sumner County for three decades. He served as County Executive (2002-2008), Mayor of Hendersonville (1990-2000), and County Commissioner (1981-1990); the only person in Sumner County history to hold all three positions. During his treatments, Hank found strength by continuing in his work as the Sumner County Executive up until the day he died.
Prior to Hank’s death, the green space in the Streets of the Indian Lake shopping center was dedicated as “Thompson Plaza” by the City of Hendersonville. A plaque there states “No person has done as much to shape the community surrounding this plaza as Hank Thompson. Let this place be testimony to his extraordinary vision and immeasurable service.” Additionally, in January 2008, the new Sumner County archives building was named the “R.J. Hank Thompson Sumner County Archives” in his honor.
Hank was a Christian, a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Nancy, for 45 years. He was an amazing father to Nick, Lance, and Amanda and father-in-law to Teena and Jon. He cherished being a grandfather and spending time with his grandchildren, Addison, Lacey, Chase and Cody.
Hank leaves behind a legacy of honor and determination that will be carried on by his family and friends. His only daughter, Amanda, decided to honor his life by fighting back against lung cancer with passion and determination. Through the Hank Thompson Trek and Treat, Hank’s family and friends will work to raise lung cancer awareness, fund critical research, and provide greater hope to others in the future.
The Hank Thompson Fund has co-funded two grants through the Uniting Against Lung Cancer Research Grant Program. Funds raised through the Trek and Treat are supporting Christine Lovly, PhD, and Jamey Young, PhD at Vanderbilt University.
Uniting Against Lung Cancer is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with the EIN 13 419 5464.