Eugene Thompson of Moscow died Friday, March 25, 2016 at Bishop Place Senior Living Center in Pullman, Wash. He was 93. Gene was born to Anson and Bertha Thompson on Sept. 24, 1922 in Gooding, ID and raised as the youngest of four children.
His father, the mayor of Gooding, gave Gene a great deal of responsibility as a young boy in helping to plant and care for new trees along the canals. It was during those years that Gene began his love for growing things, which turned out to be his livelihood as a farmer and also one of his most satisfying hobbies. As a teenager, Gene started a small nursery business in Gooding.
In the fall of 1940, Gene came to Moscow to attend the University of Idaho. He joined the Delta Chi Fraternity and met his future wife, JoAnn Crites, who was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta house located right next door. The couple was married in 1942. Gene left school to join the Army during WWII, and then returned to complete his degree in Agriculture in 1946. Gene and JoAnn bought their first farmland east of Moscow in 1947 and later purchased timber property with a cabin on Moscow Mountain. Throughout the years, Gene frequently ”disappeared” to the mountain to trim and thin or dig young trees to plant on the steep hillsides around the farm.
Along with expanding farm acreage, Gene served several agricultural organizations including Crites Moscow Growers and the Dry Pea and Lentil Commission. On behalf of these, Gene and JoAnn traveled to many third-world countries to encourage the growth of peas and lentils for nutritional value. Gene was the farming representative on the Board of Directors of Washington Water Power, now Avista Corporation. Gene also served on the Board of Directors for the First Bank of Troy, Idaho Heritage Trust, Idaho Public Utilities Commission and U. of Idaho Advisory Board of Albertson’s School of Business and Economics. He was a lifetime member of the Elks. Gene and JoAnn were active in Moscow First United Methodist Church.
Gene and JoAnn continued to enjoy travels as they took high school graduating grandchildren on world-wide adventures to expand their world views. They also loved to spend warm summer days fishing near their Lake Coeur d’Alene cabin.
Gene’s agriculture expertise continued to be his passion in later years as he tended his vegetable and flower gardens. In winter his greenhouse produced dozens of amaryllis, which Gene enjoyed distributing to friends and family and others who had shown him kindness. With the expansion of the U. of Idaho Arboretum, Gene became a tireless volunteer. He planted a stand of native conifers named the “Thompson Grove” in the Western North American Section. Often Gene could be found on his hands and knees in a labor of love planting and caring for trees in the Arboretum, on the Thompson Farm and other sites he felt moved to plant trees. Asked some years ago how he wanted to be remembered he said, “I will always have more trees to plant.”
Gene is survived by his children Polly (Tom) Crowley of Post Falls, Idaho; Patty (Mike) Lowe of Huntsville, Alabama; and Ted (Kim) Thompson of Moscow; 11 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and his sister, Marjorie Thompson Birch, of Boise, Idaho. Gene was preceded in death by his beloved JoAnn in 2012.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Moscow Parks & Recreation Department, c/o Eugene Thompson, Post Office Box 9203, Moscow, Idaho 83843, for the purpose of planting more trees along Paradise Path east of Travois Way.
A family memorial celebration will be held at a later date.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to www.shortsfuneralchapel.net.