Bruce Edward Thompson
Dec. 6, 1926 – May 20, 2011
Bruce Edward Thompson of Waukesha passed away Friday, May 20, 2011, at Seasons Hospice surrounded by his family at the age of 84. He was born on Dec. 6, 1926, in St. Paul, Minn., the son of the late Dr. Edward T. Thompson and the late Jessie (Wise) Thompson.
He spent most of his early years in Burlington and graduated in 1944 from Burlington High School. His father joined the Army Medical Corps in 1942 and served in the South Pacific during World War II. Following high school, Bruce attended the University of Wisconsin- Madison until he was drafted in December of 1944, when he turned 18. He served in Germany until he was discharged Dec. 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 World War II, but in different theaters.
In August 1950, he married the love of his life, Joyce Elaine Foltz, at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Burlington. 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 Dec. 31, 1991, as vice president-personnel after 28 years. He was certified by the National Personnel Accreditation Institute as a professional in human resources and given a life accreditation. He volunteered his personnel services to several congregations, small businesses and in the mid-1980s, to the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce.
In 1951, he founded a boys’ 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, 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 weeklong 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 to 1976) of this WELS Lutheran organization.
Throughout his life, Bruce was very active in his church: St. John’s in Burlington, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran in Waukesha and Mount Calvary Evangelical Lutheran in Waukesha. He had a special interest in stewardship.
In retirement, Bruce took up decorative painting and, in particular, loved painting in acrylics. He also loved pen and ink with oil rouging, which he also taught. He held many offices in the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the Society of Decorative Painters and was the chapter’s president in 2003 and 2004. He also was elected to the Board of Directors of the national SDP.
He will be sadly missed by his wife, Joyce, and 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 his grandchildren, Richard, Lynda (Mike), Robert and Matthew, as well as a great-granddaughter, Jalyn; and his many, many friends.
Bruce was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Donna Jean Kelley of Woodstock, Va.; and a grandson, Lee Thompson.
Visitation will be held from 3 p.m.until the 6 p.m. funeral service Tuesday, May 24, at Mount Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1941 Madison St., Waukesha, WI 53188. The Rev. Michael Turriff and the Rev. Charles Papenfuss will be officiating.
Memorials in Bruce’s name would be appreciated to the WELS Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, 2929 N. Mayfair Road, Milwaukee, WI 53222, or Mount Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church (see address above) or the charity of the donor’s choice. Burial will be held on at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 25, at Burlington Cemetery, Highway W, Burlington (please meet at the first driveway).
Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Preplanning Service is serving the family. For further information call 542-6609, or for online obituary, directions or to leave a condolence, please visit www.waukeshasfuneralhome.com.