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Rockwood loses councilman

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Ever-upbeat Bill Thompson dies in fight against cancer

By Cindy Simpson

Rockwood City Councilman Bill Thompson lost a long battle with cancer Sunday morning.

He didn’t lose his wit and charm during his health struggles, and he stayed positive during his treatments, rarely missing a Rockwood City Council meeting.
“Even when he was so sick, he’d say, ‘I’m going to get to feeling better.’” said City Recorder Becky Ruppe.
Thompson was even positive when he recently attended a finance meeting and was encouraged to return home.
While he had been hospitalized for treatment, he was able to come home recently, according to officials.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, a moment of silence in memory of Thompson was given before Councilman Mike Freeman said a prayer.
City officials agreed the soon-to-be-paved golf course trails in Rockwood  should be used to honor Thompson, who advocated using TVA funds for the work.
Vice Mayor Peggy Evans considered Thompson a dear friend, even though they sometimes butted heads.
“He was just about as bullheaded as I am. You put two of them together, it makes a good mix,” Evans said.
Mayor James Watts spoke of the void left behind by Thompson’s death.
“Bill was just a delightful person, and he’s really sorely going to be missed by this city,” the mayor said. “We had a lot of fun together.”
Thompson was quick with one liners, often jokingly telling reporters “That’s off the record” in the midst of a Rockwood City Council meeting.
One of his biggest concerns as councilman was to see the city develop a rainy-day fund, something officials are following through with.
Ruppe said the city would ideally have at least three months of operating expenses set aside at all times.
“He’d be proud we have a rainy-day fund,” Freeman said.
“You don’t know how many times he came in here and asked about that,” Ruppe said.
Freeman said Thompson, formerly a teacher and principal, always had the best interest of the students. Freeman first got to know him as principal when his children attended Rockwood Middle School.
“Since I’ve been on city council with him, he’s always had the interest of the citizens of Rockwood in his heart,” Freeman added.
Thompson was Rockwood Middle School principal for 39 years and spent many years coaching the Rockwood High School’s basketball team.
Even after retirement in 2011, he took great joy whenever the Rockwood City Council honored youth.
He seemed to know almost every child who made an appearance at the meeting.
Rockwood High School’s gymnasium was named after him in 2009.
Evans said Thompson was always an educator.
“He was always so concerned about every kid in school, whether they received the education they need and the discipline they needed,” Evans said.
She also praised his entire family.
“His wife, Pat,  and children are some of the greatest people you’d ever want to meet,” Evans said.
Rockwood Park and Recreation Director Jody Mioduski played basketball for Thompson.
“He was just an all-around good guy. He treated everyone the same and brought the best out in me,” Mioduski said.
He still remembers the drills in practice.
“When I thought I couldn’t go anymore, he’d push me further. I always appreciated him for that,” Mioduski said. “We all just looked up to him.”