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    About Hank

    Hank ThompsonA tireless advocate and public servant, "larger than life," a statesman with unmatched vision and leadership skills, a good friend, fair and honest, a coach, consistent, a people connector, a forward-thinking leader, determined, a people person, treated everyone equally-no one was more special or privileged than anyone else, rock of the community, a man with unshakeable faith, and a loving husband, father, and grandfather are qualities that defined R.J. "Hank" Thompson. Though Hank was taken from us much too soon, he touched the lives of many people during his 69 years.

    R.J. "Hank" Thompson was a respected politician and community advocate known for his vision and leadership. A political force in Sumner County for three decades, he served as County Executive (2002-2008), Mayor of Hendersonville, (1990-2000) and County Commissioner (1981-1990). He is the only person in Sumner County history to serve in all three positions. Using his leadership skills and vision, he made many positive changes for Hendersonville and Sumner County.

    During his tenure as mayor, Hank worked with state lawmakers to obtain federal funds for an extension of Indian Lake Boulevard, which brought several large developments to the area. He oversaw the development of Glenbrook shopping area and Free Hill Business Park, and initiated the $7 million Old Hickory Lake Environmental Restoration Project. Hank also led the way on several quality of life projects, such as the Mayor's Teen Board, the After-Prom Breakfast, the Trigger Lock program, and the Hendersonville Talent Show.

    As County Executive, Hank worked with state lawmakers to procure significant financing for improvements at the county's airport and structured public-private financing for new libraries in Hendersonville and Gallatin. Hank helped develop a plan for rural areas in northern Sumner County to receive public water. Whether it was building bridges, expanding highways, creating greenways, or building new sports fields, Hank always represented Sumner County with honor and determination.

    Prior to his death, the City of Hendersonville and Sumner County recognized Hank's contributions to the community and his public service. In the Streets of the Indian Lake shopping center, the green space, which includes a water play area, was dedicated as "Thompson Plaza" in honor of Hank Thompson by the City of Hendersonville. The plaque at Thompson Plaza states "No person has done as much to shape the community surrounding this plaza as Hank Thompson. Let this place be testimony to his extraordinary vision and immeasurable service." In January 2008, Sumner County named the new archives building, the "R.J. Hank Thompson Sumner County Archives" building in honor of his service.

    Hank's passion for youth and children could also be seen by the boards on which served. He was a board member for Children Are People, Inc., the Jason Foundation, and Youth Inc. He was also a member of numerous organizations, which included the Homeland Security Region Executive Board, Regional Transit Authority Board, TN Municipal League Board, TN Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Founding Chairman of the Sumner County E 911 Committee, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

    Prior to his career in politics, Hank worked as an electrical engineer and manager for TVA for 28 years. During that time, Hank was also a business owner of Bowler Limousine and Thompson Brake and Alignment Service. Because sports were one of Hank's passions, he served as a basketball referee for 18 years and the TSSAA Basketball supervisor for 20 years. Hank graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, with a B.S. in electrical engineering after playing basketball for two years at UT Martin. Hank was also a 1st Lieutenant in the Tennessee National Guard. Hank was a proud graduate of Isaac Litton High School. While there he excelled in baseball, basketball and football, being the captain of all three sports.

    Known by his trademark bald-head and unique hats, Hank had many hobbies and interests. He loved to cheer on the Tennessee Vols, ride his jet ski on Old Hickory Lake, travel with Nancy and friends, watch movies, read about American history and spend time with his family. Most importantly, Hank was a Christian, a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Hank was a member of the Hendersonville First United Methodist Church for 40 years and a teacher of the Poe Williams Sunday School class. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Nancy, for 45 years. He was an amazing father to Nick, Lance, and Amanda and father-in-law to Teena and Jon. He cherished being a grandfather and spending time with his grandchildren, Addison, Lacey, Chase and Cody.

    In April 2007, Hank was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer after suffering with a cough for about a year. Following his diagnosis, he endured numerous chemotherapy treatments and suffered severe side effects, including the loss of his voice. During his treatments, Hank found strength by continuing in his work as the Sumner County Executive up until the day he died. Unfortunately, due to limited lung cancer research, his treatment options became more limited. In spite of his valiant efforts, Hank lost his battle against lung cancer on July 6, 2008.

    Hank leaves behind a legacy of honor and determination that will be carried on by his family and friends. His only daughter, Amanda, decided to honor his life by fighting back against lung cancer with passion and determination. Through the Hank Thompson Trek and Treat, Hank's family and friends will work to raise lung cancer awareness, fund critical research, and provide greater hope to others in the future.

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