DeWitt Clinton Thompson died the morning of Aug. 23, 2010, in his sleep at his home. Born Sept. 18, 1917, to Mary Gibson Thompson and DeWitt C. Thompson Jr., he also was preceded by his sister, Sue Thompson Fort.
Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife of 68 years, Diana Roberts Thompson; his brother, Hall W. Thompson (Lucille) and his sister, Betty Thompson Hobbs. He also is survived by his daughter, Mary Becca Cherry and her children, Diana Finlayson (Reid), Bill Cherry (Kelli), and Elizabeth Barrett (Charles); his son, DeWitt Thompson IV (Jackie) and his children, DeWitt Thompson V (Jamee), Mary Britton Cummings (Jody), John Thompson (Margaret) and Jacqueline Towery (McClain); his daughter, Diana Wilker (Marvin) and her children, Scott Alden, Katharine Mosher (Bryan), Niel Alden and Laura Rebecca Alden; and his daughter, Carolyn Beckner (Jim) and her children, Catherine Perry (Chase), Jim Beckner Jr., Diana Beckner, Helen Beckner and Jack Beckner; as well as his 15 great-grandchildren.
Mr. Thompson was the prototypical patriarch of his relatively large family. He was affectionately known as ’Pop’ to all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in whom he took great pride and interest as they grew and developed. Throughout most all his life, Mr. Thompson had a passionate interest in sports, especially golf, football and baseball. In his younger years, he was a well-accomplished golfer, and he was a life long and avidly faithful supporter of the Vanderbilt football team.
He attended Vanderbilt University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps, where he served as a flight instructor throughout World War II. After his military service, throughout his business career, he continued his engagement and enthusiastic interest in flying.
Upon return from military service, Mr. Thompson joined the company recently started by his father and George Green as the 13th employee of Thompson and Green Machinery Company, a Caterpillar dealership. He was always very appreciative of the opportunity to be a Caterpillar dealer; and he was passionate about the company’s many products throughout his entire life, well after his retirement from chairmanship of the dealership. As a businessman, he also was very focused upon the customers who purchased Caterpillar machines, and he especially appreciated those well-established construction companies in the late 1940s whose patronage he always credited with giving Thompson and Green an initial chance to be successful.
In 1957, he helped his father and brother establish a new Caterpillar dealership in Northern Alabama, Thompson Tractor Company, and then in 1987, he assisted Thompson and Green in its acquisition of two other Caterpillar dealerships, one in west Tennessee and one in north Mississippi.
In his extracurricular activities, he gained much enjoyment and gratification from his involvement with the care and development of the Belle Meade Country Club golf course. And, in his retirement years, he spent most winters in the North Palm Beach area, where he enjoyed sharing with many friends and family members his membership in the Seminole Golf Club.
Mr. Thompson also loved his many beagle dogs, and he was a dedicated supporter of the Nashville Humane Association.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations to be made to Vanderbilt University Athletics, the Vanderbilt Medical Center, the Nashville Humane Association, or a charity of one’s choice.