After more than five decades of service to Thompson Township, longtime trustee William “Andy” Thompson is finally calling it quits. On Wednesday, Thompson will take part in his final board of trustees meeting before vacating his seat for the first time in 52 years.
First elected in 1970, Thompson said the decision to seek a seat on the board of trustees boiled down to a lack of candidates at the time and the need for someone to step up. “The older trustees were dropping out, and there wasn’t anybody running, so I decided to run,” he said.
Following his election, Thompson’s expectations for his tenure as a trustee didn’t extend past the initial term, much less the 13 consecutive elections he went on to win. Asked if he ever could have anticipated such a lengthy stay on the board, Thompson laughed before saying, “I figured I’d last four years.”
Instead, he went on to become the longest-serving township trustee in the entire state. In 2017, the Ohio Township Association recognized Thompson’s 48 years of service as the longest in Ohio, and the four years that followed only added to the unparalleled run.
Earlier this month, an open house was held to honor Thompson, and Delaware County Commissioner Jeff Benton was on hand to issue a proclamation recognizing Thompson’s dedicated run. The event was organized by his fellow trustees, and more than 60 residents and former trustees were on hand.
Given the small size of Thompson Township, which carries the same family name only by coincidence and has a population of just 659 people according to the most recent census, the role of trustee has doubled as a maintenance position of sorts for Thompson as well. Through the years, he could be found patching up roads or maintaining the local cemetery in addition to the standard responsibilities such as fielding phone calls and meeting with residents.
Despite his longevity, Thompson said he hasn’t seen much change in the township throughout his years as a trustee. However, there are a couple of projects he’s played a role in that he is particularly fond of. Specifically, he highlighted the construction of a new township hall, which was constructed in 1990. His wife, Ruby, called Thompson “the instigator of that project.”
The hall is the first to be constructed in the township since the original was constructed in the early 1900s, and it didn’t require asking taxpayers for any additional funds. Thompson said adequate funding was already in place for the town hall as a result of the financial discipline shown by the township. “We saved our money, we didn’t go out and spend it crazy,” he said.
Other projects he had a hand in accomplishing included the replacement of several bridges and the widening of roads throughout the township.
Now 84 years old, Thompson has found that the daily duties attached to the position are becoming increasingly more difficult, which has left him no choice but to reluctantly walk away.
“My health is not that great, and I can’t do the work that I used to. I can’t drive the trucks like I used to,” he said, adding that he’ll most miss meeting with people, answering their questions, and attending meetings.
But while Thompson is stepping away, the family name will continue to have an impact on the township in the years to come. After Thompson decided not to seek re-election, it was his son, William Andrew Thompson III, who was elected in November to fill the seat.
“I’m glad to see it and was hoping he would (run),” Thompson said of his son filling the seat. “He pretty well knows what we do.”
Like his father so many years ago, Thompson III said there was no one else planning to run, and knowing that someone would have to fill the seat, decided “it might as well be me.”
Thompson said he hasn’t shared any particular advice with his son as he prepares to begin his first term on Jan. 1. Having spent so much time together, Thompson said his son already has everything needed to become a good trustee. And should Thompson III need to consult his father for anything, he won’t have to go far.
“I know where he’s at if I have any questions,” Thompson III said.