Russel Lee Thompson II, born January 19, 1944, passed away January 20, 2014, at his home just a few hours after his seventieth birthday. He is survived by his caregiver, Mary, daughter, Elizabeth Thompson of Athens, Ohio, son, Trey Thompson of San Antonio, Texas, two grandsons and a granddaughter, nephew Robert Thompson, nieces Lori Thompson and Kristina Shiroyama, a number of great nephews and nieces, all of whom live in the Los Angeles, California, area, and his dog, Molly. Preceding him in death are his mother, Esther Elizabeth Hansen Thompson, father, Russel Lee Thompson, both formerly of Lincoln, Nebraska, and his brother, Robert Maurice Thompson of the Los Angeles, California, area.
Russel grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, first attending University High School in Lincoln where he played trombone in the marching band and loved baseball and other sports. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a degree in music and for a short time made his living singing. He fondly remembered the summer at Santa Fe Opera when he played the role of the villainous Scarpia in Tosca; he also performed at New York City Opera, was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions of the upper Midwest region, and performed extensively in Lincoln and elsewhere. Later he taught music and directed a number of bands in the Oklahoma public school system. He received a master’s degree in education from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and became a public school administrator.
But Russel was a jack of all trades, and during and after his public school career, tried out many different vocations: owner and operator of a motorcycle repair shop, construction worker, editor, country club manager, groundskeeper, and country singer, to name a few. He was an accomplished guitarist and wrote a number of songs as well as traveled and played with several bands over the years. He inherited his mother’s creativity and loved to build and make things. He knitted a number of scarves for family members and friends and built a prayer bench in his back yard where he loved to sit quietly in the afternoons with his dog, Molly. He also inherited his mother’s love of genealogy and enjoyed building on the extensive research she had done.
Having been a featured soloist in as well as a director of a number of different Episcopal church choirs over the years, late in his life he converted to Roman Catholicism, which became a great source of inspiration and comfort to him, and was a member of the Immaculate Conception Catholic church of Union City, Tennessee. He was an avid reader of the Bible, philosophy, and literature and had an active and curious mind to the very end. He was a creative, engaging, talented, unique person; he will be missed by many, especially Mary, who took such good care of him for so long. He will be laid to rest at the Lincoln Memorial Park in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Edmaiston-Mosley Funeral Home
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