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Thompson, Bruce



  • Existence: 1926-12-6 - 2011-05-20

He was born on December 6, 1926 in St. Paul, MN, the son of the late Dr. Edward T. Thompson MD and the late Jessie (Wise) Thompson. He spent most of his early years in Burlington, WI and graduated in 1944 from Burlington High School. His father joined the Army Medical Corps in 1942 and served in the South Pacific during WWII. Following High School, Bruce attended the University of Wisconsin- Madison until he was drafted in th December of 1944 when he turned 18. He served in Germany until he was discharged on December 7 , 1946 as a medical NCO with the rank of Staff Sergeant. Bruce was always proud that both he and his father served together during WWII … but in different theaters.

In August, 1950 he married the love of his life, Joyce Elaine Foltz at St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church in Burlington, WI. They remained in the Burlington area until 1985 when they moved to Waukesha. In 1963, Bruce went into banking and personnel and then retired from Bank One (formerly the Marine Bank) on December 31, 1991 as Vice President – Personnel after 28 years. He was certified by the National Personnel Accreditation Institute as a PHR (Professional in Human Resources) and given a life accreditation. He volunteered his personnel services to several congregations, small businesses and in the mid 1980’s to the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce.

In 1951, he founded a boy’s club called “Lutheran Pioneers.” This organization went national in 1954 and he served as the first chairman of the national council. He served as the National Commander of Lutheran Pioneers, Inc. for 31 years and then served on the council until he retired in 1989 and served emeritus until his death. He wrote the first five handbooks used by the boys. In 1964, he began a program for older Lutheran Pioneer boys called the “Voyageurs.” Here high school aged boys could use their learned outdoor skills on a week-long canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario. He lead 16 such trips from 1964 to 1984. In 2007, he wrote a book titled “Beginnings” which documented the first 25 years (1951-1976) of this WELS Lutheran organization.

Throughout his life, Bruce was very active in his church. St. John’s in Burlington, Trinity Ev. Lutheran in Waukesha and Mt Calvary Ev. Lutheran in Waukesha. He had a special interest in stewardship.

In retirement, Bruce took up decorative painting and in particular loved painting in acrylics and also pen & ink with oil rouging which he also taught. He held many offices in the SE Wisconsin chapter of the Society of Decorative Painters (SDP) and was the chapter’s President in 2003 and 2004. He also was elected to the Board of Directors of the national SDP.

Bruce passed away on Friday May 20th, 2011. He will be sadly missed by his wife, Joyce; children, Steven (Robyn) of Pennsylvania, Ann (Robin) Richardson of Madison, Mark (Rhonda) of Waukesha, and Robin Ann (Roy) Neal of Burlington. He is further survived by grandchildren, Richard, Lynda (Mike), Robert, and Matthew as well as great granddaughter, Jalyn and his many, many friends. Bruce is preceded in death by his parents, sister Donna Jean Kelley of Woodstock, VA and a grandson Lee Thompson.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

The Lutheran Pioneer Collection

Identifier: S019
Scope and Contents Collection contains the first handbook of the Lutheran Pioneers; the 4th edition of the Handbook for Boys Lutheran Pioneers; Beginnings: The Formative Years written by Bruce Thompson; and a canoe paddle.