Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Epilogue: Vince Thompson loved his students, and they knew it

WIMAUMA — There was a time when Vince Thompson decided to change careers. He loved working in Hillsborough County Schools, but he knew he could make a lot more money elsewhere.

So he managed a waterfront resort in southern Hillsborough. The money rolled in. More than he had ever made as a teacher or a school administrator. But it wasn't enough. He missed his students too much.

After a couple of years, he was back in the school system. In his later years of working full-time he was principal of East Bay High School, and then became the first principal of Riverview High School.

Mr. Thompson, who was still working part-time for the school district, passed away Oct. 3 of heart failure. He was 73.

"Vince Thompson was a great educator," said his longtime friend and colleague Earl Lennard, a former superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools and the county's current supervisor of elections. "And I truly believe that was not so much a great academician as that he was committed to his students. He knew them by face, he knew what classes they took, he knew their parents."

Before he went into administration, Mr. Thompson had a long, successful career as a teacher and football coach, including years at Hillsborough and Robinson.

One thing that made him an exceptional principal, Lennard said, was that Mr. Thompson recognized that not every student was interested in sports, so he made sure his schools offered opportunities for students to find their passion in music, drama or any other activity that might interest them. Mr. Thompson thought ever extracurricular activity was potentially as valuable as sports, and he supported them all. He attended every football game, but also every school play.

He also had the vision to understand the unusual demands of opening a new school. When Riverview opened, most of its students had been attending other schools and they still felt attachments to them. Mr. Thompson tried to make them feel like part of Riverview.

"He started even before the doors opened," Lennard said. "He let the students pick the nickname and the school colors. That first day they walked into that school, they were all Riverview Sharks."

In 2001, the football stadium at Riverview High School was named after Mr. Thompson. Another honor may be in the works.

A petition has been circulating asking the school system to name a new elementary school after Mr. Thompson. It would open in 2014, near Earl J. Lennard High School in Ruskin.

"I believe there's a lot of community sentiment to name the school after him," Lennard said.

Mr. Thompson had lived virtually his entire life in the Tampa Bay area. He grew up in Tarpon Springs, where he met his wife, Judy, while they were both teenagers. They married two years later and moved to Hillsborough County while he got his degree in education from the University of Tampa. They spent a couple of years in Mississippi where he studied and coached at two colleges, and then returned to this area for good.

He had never really stopped working in education. Almost until the day of his death, he was working 20 hours a week for the school system, helping to resolve conflicts between parents and the schools.

Since his death, the Thompson family has received condolences from students from all five decades of Mr. Thompson's career in Hillsborough County Schools.

"He loved his students," Judy Thompson said, "and they knew it."

In addition to his wife, Mr. Thompson is survived by his son, Michael, his daughters Niki Pennington and Shelby Mason and two grandchildren.

A memorial service for Mr. Thompson is scheduled for 3 p.m. today at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 1015 Del Webb E in Sun City Center. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to St. John the Divine.

Marty Clear writes life stories about area residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at [email protected]abay.rr.com.

Comments
Forecast: Brace for another short-lived blast of arctic air across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Brace for another short-lived blast of arctic air across Tampa Bay

Wednesday morning’s slight chill is but a precursor for what’s coming: It’s about to get really cold, Tampa Bay. Later this afternoon and into Thursday morning, temperatures are expected to drop to brutal lows — at least for a day. 10News WTSPFeels-...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

New Port Richey launches sign project

NEW PORT RICHEY – City leaders have approved spending a big chunk of money to put New Port Richey on the map with signs marking the city’s entrances and making navigation easier for visitors.New Port Richey City Council members unanimously approved a...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
South wakes up to snow, ice and record-breaking cold

South wakes up to snow, ice and record-breaking cold

ATLANTA — The South awoke on Wednesday to a two-part Arctic mess. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, and then came the below-zero wind chills and record-breaking low temperatures in New Orleans and other cities. The snowfall sabotaged morning...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
A closer look at graduation rates. How did your school do?

A closer look at graduation rates. How did your school do?

Updated: 1 hour ago
9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

TALLAHASSEE — Nine men are facing hazing charges in connection with the death of a Florida State University fraternity pledge, police said Tuesday. The Tallahassee Police Department said in an emailed release that arrest warrants were signed earlier ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies conducting homicide investigation in Tampa

Deputies conducting homicide investigation in Tampa

Hillsborough County deputies are conducting a homicide investigation after a man was found dead in the Grant Park area of Tampa early Wednesday morning.Deputies say the man was found in the 3700 block of Carroway Street.The circumstances surrounding ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Status hearing today for suspect in Seminole Heights killings

Status hearing today for suspect in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — A status hearing will be held Wednesday morning for the man accused of four killings in Seminole Heights.Howell Emanuel Donaldson III was arrested Nov. 30, hours after he gave a bag that held a gun to a fellow employee of an Ybor City McDonal...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Meteor credited for bright light, noise rattling Michigan (w/video)

Meteor credited for bright light, noise rattling Michigan (w/video)

DETROIT — Experts say a bright light and what sounded like thunder in the sky above Michigan was a meteor.The American Meteor Society says it received hundreds of reports of a fireball Tuesday night over the state, including many in the Detroit area....
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Freeze watch is in effect; accused Seminole Heights killer in court today; examining Tampa Bay’s grad rates; local crabber’s ‘lucky’ life

The Daystarter: Freeze watch is in effect; accused Seminole Heights killer in court today; examining Tampa Bay’s grad rates; local crabber’s ‘lucky’ life

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• The cold is back Tampa Bay. Wednesday will see highs in the 60s and then it gets worse from there, dropping down to the 20s and 30s overnight. The region is under a free watc...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Washington PostFive Navy officers involved in ship collisions that killed a combined 17 sailors last year will face a variety of criminal charges, including negligent homicide, the service announced Tuesday night.The individuals include Cmdr. Bryce B...
Updated: 9 hours ago