John H. Thompson Jr. ’39

John H. Thompson Jr. '39John H. Thompson Jr., age 96, passed away Thursday, January 15, 2015 at Carver Living Center after a long period of declining health. He was born on July 5, 1918 to the late Henry and Ila Thompson of Winston-Salem, NC. He attended public schools there and graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School in 1935. He furthered his education at Davidson College and Texas A&M University.

In July 1941 he began his U.S. Postal Service career as a substitute clerk in Winston-Salem. Soon afterwards he joined the U.S. Army Air Force at the start of WWII. The Army Air Force gave him additional education and bombardier training. After his honorable discharge on November 3, 1945 he returned to Winston-Salem and served as Secretary of the Board of U.S. Civil Service Examiners for three years.

Following that, his next Federal employment was at the Washington, D.C. Terminal. He later transferred to Greensboro, NC to the Postal Transportation Service until the office was discontinued. He then went to work at the Greensboro Post Office as a Mail Dispatch Expediter.

He was later promoted to the position of Methods and Standards Analyst in the Atlanta Region in early 1965 and appointed a Postal Services Officer in 1966. He became the Assistant District Manager and in 1973 retired with 35 years of service. John became a member or the American Legion in early 1946 and served on several committees at the local, District, Division and State levels. While serving as Post Commander during 1978-81 he was selected the NC Legionnaire-of-the-Year for outstanding service.

During the year 1983-84, he served as Department Commander of the American Legion. Since 1979 until health limited his availability, John was a regularly scheduled volunteer at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Durham. During this time he was selected a Key Volunteer three times and served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the V.A. Voluntary Service Advisory Committee.

In 1987 he received the Leadership Award from the V.A. in Durham for Outstanding Service to the Hospitalized Veteran and other programs of the Veterans Administration. More than 3,700 hours of his time was devoted to support of Veterans. John was also a member of Durham Masonic Lodge #352 and the York Rites. He was a charter member of Amran Shrine Temple of Raleigh and a member of BPO Elks Lodge #568. John was a licensed Real Estate Broker and volunteered with Lifeline of Durham for a number of years.

He was a member of Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church having served as Treasurer, Chairman of the Building Committee and a member of the Church Choir.

John was first married to the late Virginia Krites. Survivors from that marriage are his son John H. Thompson, III (Gerri) of Mauldin, SC; grandson Howie Thompson (Theresa) of Simpsonville, SC; granddaughter Holly Ireland (David); and great grandson Foster, of Simpsonville, SC; sister Molly Bell (Jack) of Winston-Salem, NC; sister Harriet Ledwell of Sarasota, FL; and brother Rev. Gene Thompson (Mary Ann) of Prospect, KY. John’s second marriage was to the late Billie Dority Copeland. Those survivors are stepsons, Tommy Copeland (Judy) of Jacksonville, NC; Danny Copeland (Donna) of Sunset Beach, NC; stepdaughter Katherine Fisher (Gary) of Durham; step-grandson Rob Copeland (Cassaundra), Tom Copeland (Lewellyn), John Fisher (Brenda) and Bryant Copeland (Janae) and eight great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at Clements Funeral Chapel in Durham at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The family will receive friends prior to the service beginning at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church, 3541 Rose of Sharon Road, Durham, NC 27712.

John’s caregivers, Fran Newman and Martha Long are to be commended for their loving care and special attention to John’s health since mid-2001.

The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral Service, Inc., in Durham, N.C. Online condolences may be made at

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