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Former General Chairman Gene Thompson, 1937-2012

CLEVELAND, December 10 — Former BLE General Chairman D. E. “Gene” Thompson passed away at his home surrounded by his family on December 7 after an extended illness.

Brother Thompson, 75, was born on August 19, 1937. After graduating from high school in 1955, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956-1959. He hired out on the Cotton Belt Railroad (St. Louis Southwestern) in 1959 in engine service, joining Division 442 (Dexter City, Mo.) of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) on May 1, 1967. He held continuous membership until the time of his passing.

Thompson served as General Chairman for 17 years, 1983-2000, and retired on September 30, 2000. Prior to that, he was elected to serve as Local Chairman of Division 442 from 1974-1983. He was well respected by the membership and his hard work resulted in many important improvements for BLE members throughout his career. Brother Thompson represented Cotton Belt engineers during the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific merger negotiations during the 1990s, which led to ratified agreements to implement the merger.

Brother Thompson handled one of the first Locomotive Engineer Review Board (LERB) cases for the BLE. He also represented the BLE during one of the early regulatory reviews of the Federal Railroad Administration’s engineer certification process, which resulted in reduced penalties for engineers regarding decertifications. Brother Thompson served as Chairman of the Western General Chairman’s Association (WGCA) for several years and was Chairman of the Caucus Committee during the BLE’s 1991 International Convention.

During his time away from the railroad, Brother Thompson enjoyed playing golf, hunting, playing cards with friends, and was a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan. He was also active in his community, serving as a volunteer fireman for the city of Illmo and coaching little league baseball for many years. He also spent two years as Commissioner of the Illmo youth league and served on the Scott City School Board until the time of his passing.

Along with fellow engineer and friend John Counts (also Division 442), Brother Thompson helped establish the first Operation Lifesaver railroad grade crossing safety program for Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas.

Brother Thompson is survived by: wife of 49 years, Faye; son Brad and his wife Lara; daughter Sonya Miller and her husband Tom; and six grandchildren (Heidi Thompson of Chicago; Kelsey Thomson of Boca Raton, Fla., Danyelle Pate of Cape Girardeau, Mo., Madison Thompson of Scott City, Mo., Ryan Miller of Sikeston, Mo., and Myriah Miller of Scott City, Mo.). He is also survived by his five brothers and two sisters. His son Brad is a Union Pacific locomotive engineer and former Local Chairman of BLET Division 442.

“Brother Gene Thompson had many accomplishments as General Chairman that had a lasting positive impact on countless locomotive engineers,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “He was a dedicated member and an aggressive and committed officer, who will be missed by all who knew him, including those in his extended Brotherhood family. On behalf of the National Division, I extend deepest sympathies to his wife Faye, son Brad, and the entire Thompson family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

Services for Brother Thompson are as follows:

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Friends and family visitation from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Amick-Burnett Funeral Home (Scott City)
115 E. Hickory St.-East
Scott City, MO 63780
Phone: (573) 264-2111

Friday, December 14, 2012
Funeral services at 1:00 p.m.
Illmo Baptist Church
802 2nd Street East
Scott City, Mo. 63780
Phone: (573) 264-4725

Monday, December 10, 2012
bentley@ble-t.org

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