Monday, January 29, 2007

Leroy Thompson's obituary

After banging my brains on the Robert Leroy Thompson problem for a week or so, it finally dawned on me that there might be an obituary in a North Carolina newspaper. I had found his entry in the SSDI and it said that the last benefits were sent to Charlotte NC.

On Saturday night, I hunted for newspaper resources in Mecklenburg County, NC. I found the web site for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (, filled out their request form for information and emailed it at 5:30 PM, hoping for an answer in the advertised 48 hours.

The response came this morning (less than 48 hours), cand they found this obituary:

The following notice appeared in the Charlotte News on Sept. 26, 1965, p. 8a:

Funeral services for LeRoy Thompson, 85, of 2304 N. Poplar St., will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday in McEwen West Chapel. The Rev. Edward Bliss, pastor of St. Peter's Catholic Church, will officiate.

Burial will be in Salisbury.

Mr. Thompson died yesterday in a local hospital. Mr. Thompson was born Aug. 12, 1880, in Huntland, Tenn., son of the late William and Lydia Childress Thompson. He was a retired barber, a World War I veteran, and a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Norma Kendrick Thompson; four daughters, Miss Dorothy Thompson and Mrs. Gewn Nelson of Charlotte; Mrs. James E. Newby of Shreveport, La., and Sister Margaret Marie of Milwaukee, Wisc.; a step-daughter, Mrs. Emma Sue Hunley of Kingsport, Tenn.; two stepsons, Earl Scott Pendleton of Chicago, Ill., and James Pendleton of Briston, R. I., and 12 grandchildren.

vb, NCR Reference Staff

What wonderful service. I highly recommend queries to this library!

The obituary told me several things that I needed to verify:

1) That this is the Robert Leroy Thompson I am searching for. All I had was the family information, which I thought was correct, but wanted to verify. The birth and death dates match and the names of the children match.

2) The names of his parents - William and Lydia Childress Thompson. All I had was the family information, and they weren't sure of his mother's first name. Of course, it may be she went by her middle name...

3) Leroy's home address, occupation and religion. The family probably knew this, but I didn't.

4) The name of Leroy's second wife, and her children's names. The family did not tell me about a second (or later?) wife, but it doesn't matter much, I think.

5) The married names of his children.

While the newspaper obituary provides secondary information from an unknown source, it is evidence that helps to partially paint the picture and tell the story of Leroy's life.

What a wonderful way to start the morning! Now I have to greet the kitchen tile man, go to the UPS Store and make flyers, then lead the CVGS meeting today at 10 AM, and take the speaker out to lunch.


Steve Danko said...

I had a similar experience with the Public Library in Worcester, Massachusetts. I sent a request to the library's "Ask a Librarian" service for advice on how I might find a copy of an article about my cousin Harry Meleski published in the Worcester Telegram about 50 years ago (I didn't know the date on which the article was published). I received an email response from the library within 48 hours and received a paper copy of the article by US mail within a week. What a wonderful service!

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