Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Faylene Thompson

Faylene Thompson cherished her P.E. students, juggled several jobs

ST. PETERSBURG — The sealed letter went home with Lakeview Fundamental Elementary students on Feb. 3. It contained an important message from principal Susan Garcia-Nikolova to their parents, and students were told not to open it.

The letter bore sad news. Faylene Thompson, a physical education assistant at the school since 1998, had died the day before. She was 52. Mrs. Thompson had suffered from diabetes and other health problems.

Word spread over the weekend. A gregarious and maternal figure who had no biological children, Mrs. Thompson was a school favorite. Since all of Lakeview's students take a half-hour of P.E., colleagues estimate she influenced more than 2,000 students over 14 years. She taught them softball, hockey, fitness and fun.

"She was always talking about her kids — 'I gotta get there for my kids,' " said Charles Thompson, her husband of 23 years.

While the teaching position might have taken up most of her focus, it was not her only job. Mrs. Thompson was simultaneously juggling a florist business, a cleaning business, and helping her husband run his barbecue restaurant, Picnics & More.

Oh, and she also worked security at Tropicana Field.

On her own time, Mrs. Thompson attended her students' sports league games. She even collected aluminum cans for needy children at the school.

"This year, a little girl told us that her mother's car was robbed. It had all the Christmas presents in it," said P.E. teacher Jason Wood, Mrs. Thompson's teaching partner. "Faylene organized volunteers to give donations."

Through her fundraising, Mrs. Thompson bought presents for 15 to 20 children a year, Wood said.

"She was one of the hardest workers I've ever had," said Garcia-Nikolova, the school principal. "When she was ill or not feeling well, we would say, 'You need to go home.' "

A St. Petersburg native, Mrs. Thompson attended Boca Ciega High, where she played clarinet in the band. She worked as a P.E. assistant at Perkins Elementary from 1992 to 1997 before joining Lakeview Fundamental in 1998.

Appearances aside, Mrs. Thompson did know how to relax. She enjoyed taking in the occasional movie and fishing with her husband. But in recent months, she was able to do less.

Counselors from the school district's crisis team met with students at the school Monday. "We told the kids it was okay to be sad and to cry, and that's what we did during P.E.," Wood said. "We also shared happy stories — cool, funny things, sort of like a therapy session."

Mrs. Thompson's colleagues are also trying to stay positive, but it's tough. Said Garcia-Nikolova, "If we were all boo-hooing, she would probably want to just slap us and say, 'Snap out of it, you've got to worry about these kids.' "

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.


Faylene M. Thompson

Born: Feb. 28, 1959

Died: Feb. 2, 2012

Survivors: husband Charles Thompson III; stepdaughter Trina Thompson; mother Doris Mosley; grandmother Bonnie Johnson; five stepgrandchildren.

Service: Wake from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. today; Lawson Funeral Home, 4535 Central Ave. Service 11 a.m. Saturday; Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2830 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg.

Faylene Thompson cherished her P.E. students, juggled several jobs 02/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2012 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)