Robert Leo Thompson, Sr.


On May 9, 2023, Robert Leo Thompson, Sr., spent his last day peacefully, surrounded by family at home. His 93 years of living was filled with extraordinary accomplishments, most importantly, his nearly 74 years of marriage to his beloved wife, Marion. Bob’s life revolved around his family, teaching and sports. During his early years in sports, he was called Bobby, Robert, Bob, Tommy or “scatterlegs” Thompson; but to all he was a gifted athlete. He lettered all 4 years in high school track, basketball, and football and golf. (Baseball was not a high school sport.) He was never in a losing football game or track meet in all four years of high school and graduated with many records in all the sports he played both in Breckenridge and within the state of Minnesota. Bob still holds the long jump record after nearly 75 years. He led all the teams in scoring and was selected for all state honors. He participated in the famous Drake relays in Iowa. He was recruited to several universities and chose to join the famous Bernie Bierman at the University of Minnesota. There, he continued his athletic exploits. As a freshman in 1948, he was a star on the intersquad team and one of the only sophomores to start the next year. Bob played mostly defensive back, but also was a receiver, kicker and punt returner. He played alongside Bud Grant in 1949, which was clearly the best year for the Gophers who narrowly missed the Rose Bowl and a national championship, but managed to finish the year ranked #8 in the country. Bob eventually lettered 3 times in football and twice in baseball while competing also in track at the U of M. While a junior in college he married Marion Estenson of Fergus Falls on July 1, 1950. After graduation, they moved to Redwood Falls where Bob would teach, coach football, basketball and baseball while playing town team league baseball. In 1968, Bob, Marion and their 5 children moved to Alexandria where they bought Orono resort on Lake Le Homme Dieu. Bob continued teaching and coaching at Parker’s Prairie High School. He was a mentor to many of his students during his 30 +years of teaching and coaching. After retiring from teaching and coaching Bob worked as an adjuster for Rain and Hail for several years. Bob loved the outdoors and people. As an athlete and later as a coach and teacher, reporters mentioned his gregarious nature and abundant hospitality. He was loved by everyone from his students to his colleagues and of course his family. After retirement they moved to Coon Rapids and spent winters in Surprise Arizona. In his later years, Bob and Marion moved to Towerlight in St Louis Park where he quickly became active in the social scene playing poker and bridge and bragging about his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He never lost his sense of humor. …He loved his family, Wheel of Fortune and chocolate chip cookies. He lived a good life and will not be forgotten. Bob is survived by his wife of 73 years - Marion, 5 children - Carey (Jim Ryks)Thompson of Buffalo, MN, Rob (Susan) Thompson of Alexandria, MN, Jill Thompson of Jefferies Bay South Africa, David (Lori) Thompson of Palm Harbor, Florida and Mark Thompson of Minneapolis, 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren.

Bob made arrangements to have his remains donated to the University of Minnesota medical school for research. A memorial service will be held at Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis on June 17, 2023, at 11:00 am.

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