Date of Death:  December 26, 2022

Service Details

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery, with military taps and honor guard.

Obituary Notice

Robert L. Thompson, 99, of Fisher Lake, MI passed away on December 26, 2022 at Heritage Community of Kalamazoo.

Bob was born on August 5, 1923 to Mabelle A. and Lloyd E. Thompson at home in Park Township, Three Rivers, MI.

Bob was preceded in death by his loving wife, Patricia (Pat), 93, after almost 75 years of marriage, on Jan. 19, 2019, and his sister, Jackie Roush, 94, on December 29, 2020.

Bob is survived by his three children, Connie Bradley, who has two children, Scott (Tracey) and Dawn (Rick) Rohr; Randi, married to Rich East, who have three children, Jennifer (Scott) Outman, Jason (Laura), and Jarrad; Mark, married to Lisa, who have three children, Ryan (Erin), Travis (Lisa), and Markelle Kuiper. Bob also is survived by eighteen great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Bob attended school in Three Rivers, enjoying math and history. He was very active in sports: basketball, baseball, football, track, and swimming. He also enjoyed fishing. He received several honors in school, being voted “The Most Popular Boy” as a senior, and part of the 1941 conference champs for basketball and football.

After graduation in 1941, he attended Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI, until he was called up for active duty in February 1943, after enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He spent a year of training in Deming, NM. Upon completion, he called his high school sweetheart, Patricia Niendorf, to come down to Deming to marry him on February 26, 1944.

Bob was on his 13th mission as a bombardier on a B-17 named “Princess Pat,” October 20, 1944, when he and his crew were shot down over Hungary. He survived 6 1/2 months as a POW in Germany. In June 1945, Bob was reunited with his wife and a new baby girl.

Bob finished college at Western Michigan University and began a teaching career in Mendon, MI for three years, then thirty-four years of teaching eighth grade math and history and coaching basketball, baseball, and football in Three Rivers.

Bob had quite a sense of humor, always friendly to those he met. He loved his wife, family, friends, and country. Bob was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Three Rivers, the Elks Club of Three Rivers, American Legion Post #170, flew with the 15th Airforce B-17 bombers, he as the bombardier, the 483rd Bombardment (group H) Association – 815th Squadron, AARP, and MARSP.

Additional Information
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  1. Bob’s smile will long remain in my mind along with years of memories. We lived next door and Bob and the rest of the family were a pin drop away. Bob’s soothing calm voice and occasional laugh was always answered by Pats higher pitched response, or the other way around, just mumbles at a distance, but oh so familiar. We lived in a kid filled neighborhood and traveled to and from all, but somehow Thompson’s house was the one that was circled so frequently that an oval, slightly banked track was worn in.

    The war not spoken of by my father, Bob or anyone that I can think of though I was aware Bob was a bombardier and had been shot down over Germany. I recall learning this but not how. Another condolence mentioned Bob’s love of sunrise; I never made the connection to his being deprived of sun as a POW.

    Each summer day, Bob was the first on the lake, quietly rowing off to go fishing. By the time I was up, Bob was rowing his way home or landing. He usually had a good catch and would proceed to scale and clean what he’d caught. He always finished by cutting open the gut to see and showing us what the fish had been eating, and to make judgment on the next days bait.

    On summer afternoons Bob coached Little League and often gave a few of us a ride to practice or games. He taught skills and nurtured sportsmanship.

    He came home from school one day with a bigger than normal smile, announcing that the shop class was building a boat! Before long a 16 foot boat with an 18 HP Evinrude was pulling us around the lake, two skis then one as the neighborhood progressed. I’m not certain but believe this boat was the first ski boat on the lake, though slowly others appeared.

    As I grew up and went off to College, I’d always check in with the Thompsons when visiting home. Visits continued for many years then eventually I arrived on my boat and was able to take Bob, Pat and the rest of our neighborhood for a sail on Lake Michigan, returning a favor that Bob gave us all long ago.

    RIP Bob, love to Connie, Randi and Mark

  2. I’m sorry to hear of Mr. Thompson’s passing. I don’t think I had him for class, but everybody knew him. I remember him standing outside his classroom with a smile on his face as we walked the halls before class. I’m surprised to learn he was a POW. That’s really something. Ninety-nine years is a pretty good ride, enough to affect a lot of students and friends. I especially remember him as Connie’s Dad to whom I send my condolences. I’m sure you’re proud of the man he was and have many good memories to sustain you. 🙂

  3. I have been reviewing old yearbooks and was surprised to see just how deep his history is with TR. As my 8th grade math teacher his soft spoken and patient method was welcoming. At that time (early 1980’s) his coaching days had past, and it wasn’t until recently via these old yearbooks I learned he coached pretty much all of my friends parents…in fact most of the town. I remember him telling us he enjoyed getting up to watch the sun rise because his time as a Prisoner Of War deprived him of morning sun. Wow. I am fascinated by Mr. Thompson’s life. RIP and our condolences to the family.

  4. So sorry to hear, will be praying for the family in the coming days. My favorite memory of Coach Thompson is when he was umpire for a little league game. I was struggling and he said to me “Come on, Dale, you can hit this guy”. Several pitches later – a double to right center field. Just one example of his encouraging personality.

  5. Bob and Pat and Dee and I shared the same anniversary date five years apart and we spent our 50th anniversary with them in Mexico and their 50th anniversary in Toronto. We got together almost every Wednesday night. We were the best of friends and we really miss them.

  6. Bob was my history teacher in high school and my favorite teacher. He was just a great guy and he and his wife always looked like the perfect couple. I hope they are together in heaven looking down and saying we had a good life together and now we can spend eternity together. Please rest in peace.

  7. I am so blessed to have met Bob and his family. To know Bob was to love him. I am sad to see of his passing but happy that he has joined his loving wife and that she met him wearing her red shirt. Bob was such a swell guy that was always good for a laugh. He is one that will always be in my heart. I pray his family has comfort during this time.

  8. Before moving to Nottawa where my parents built a home and attended Centreville High school and graduated , I attended my classes at Huss and then to the High School in Three Rivers; I had Mr. Thompson for one of my classes and one of his classes that sticks out more than his being a great teacher was we had to memorize all the verses of the ” Star- Spangled Banner” and recite it in front of the rest of the class and was one of the many important lessons that has stuck in my memory forever.
    In later years i remember visiting with him at Gibby’s restaurant in Mendon.

  9. I graduated in 79 and Mr Thompson was my 8th grade math teacher. He was one of the teachers I have always remembered and always will. You have my deepest condolences and you all are in my thoughts and prayers 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  10. Deepest sympathy to Mr. Thompson’s family., especially Connie, who was in my class. He was my 8th (I think) grade history teacher. He deviated from the curriculum for one class period to talk about his WWII experiences — it was a riveting lecture.

  11. Bob Thompson was my eighth grade history teacher. He was such a great man, kind and funny in the classroom, Later, as a neighbor at the lake, he remained a friend who never failed to laugh at stories from the past. I remember our group who tried to guess his middle name because he wouldn’t tell us. He and Pat were the original Fisher Lake historians that we could go to when we needed facts about the past. fisher Lake will never be the same!

  12. Loved Bob and Pat, they were friends with my grandparents (Ted & Laura French) loved hearing his stories and them all sharing memories. He had such an impact on so many of us, feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to know him outside of the school environment!

    • Mr. Thompson first of all will be one of my favorite (math) teachers, and secondly one of my favorite people. He always had kind words to say. I got to be around him year around when I married into the Weaver family. Love the Thompson family. Very sorry for everyone’s loss.

    • Connie Randi and Mark and family I’m so sorry to hear of Bobs passing. Your family was a fixture of my childhood. Being next door neighbors I have many memories of Bob and Pat. I remember Bob teaching Mark and I how to fish. Bob cleaning all the fish out back on a board on top of the burning barrel. They would cook them and then I got to eat them. I remember sitting on the front porch eating fried zucchini slices when I was a child. They were a favorite of mine. I remember being in the middle of our canoe with my mom and dad paddling down the river with Bob and Pat I remember our party phone line. I never had Bob as a teacher as I went to Mendon but it sure sounds like he was a great teacher beloved by his students As an adult I loved talking to him while I was out walking and he would be out in his yard working. We had some nice conversations. Yet I realize how much I didn’t know about him and his life I’m grateful for memories of Fisher Lake and the wonderful neighbors and life long connections we had. I know not everyone had this. RIP Bob.

  13. It is with a sad heart that I learned of Coach Thompson’s passing. He was a great mentor and treated everyone with respect. I had a lot of fun with him as a coach. Condolences to his wonderful family.

  14. My sincere condolences to Bob’s family and all his friends. I had Mr. Thompson for a teacher in high school, graduating Class of 1960. It was a joy to go to his class. He was highly respected and liked by all the kids in school. Later I knew him while he lived at Fisher Lake, a true gentleman. Rest in Peace Bob.

    Judy Gilchrist-Mohney
    Stayton, OR

    • Uncle Bob was a fixture in my childhood memories as a good man, gentle soul, and one who taught me the love of fishing for blue gills on Fisher Lake.

      The life lesson wasn’t just the fishing (which he constantly said I was to noisy at to catch anything, but did anyway), but the preparation involving hunting for night crawlers, getting your tackle and gear together, and being awake at the crack of dawn (in the summer no less!) and being ready on time or he was off without you.

      My need to be punctual may have come from those summers. He will be missed.

      I look forward to update on details regarding the Spring memorial.

  15. So sorry to hear about Bob’s passing. Prayers to Connie, Randi, Mark and families. My parents, my husband, and I remember BOB and Pat as part of the Wednesday night group and their hospitality when we had a “boat float” on the 4th of July. He will be missed…….

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