'A coastie's coastie'

To those who knew him, Terry “T.J.” Thompson embodied the spirit of Coast Guard City USA.
Alex Doty
Jun 21, 2013

 

“He was a very giving person and loved the Coast Guard,” said his wife, Betty. “We will miss him very much.”

Thompson, 77, died Tuesday at his home in Grand Haven — a place he continued to live after retiring from the Coast Guard in 1979.

“He loved Grand Haven, obviously, as he stayed here after he retired,” Betty said.

The Thompsons were married in 1960, and they traveled from town to town on his long Coast Guard journey and the one that came after his service came to an end.

“A lot of the time we were stationed around the Great Lakes — in Wisconsin and Michigan,” Betty said.

Thompson was finally assigned to Grand Haven, where he was chief boatswains mate and officer in charge of the station.

Betty said her husband also spent time in Hawaii and Korea during wartime. He had search-and-rescue duties while stationed in California.

After retirement, Thompson sailed the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast and rivers of the West.

“He was an interesting person — at least I thought so,” Betty said. “These last few years, he started doing hand-carved boats from a solid piece of wood. That became a hobby.”

Some of Thompson's boats are on display at the Tip-A-Few Tavern in Grand Haven.

Dave Aikens, who was Thompson’s counterpart at the Coast Guard station in Holland at about the same time, remembered him fondly.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

 

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