Robert Lewis Thompson, 99, of Honey Brook PA, passed away on December 27, 2023, at Chester County Hospital.
Robert (Bob) was born in Philadelphia on October 17, 1924, son to Charles Franklin and Mildred (Spragle) Thompson. Growing up in Lansdowne, PA, he attended Lansdowne High School, and joined the Lansdowne Fire Company as a junior firefighter while in high school as part of his wartime civil service. After graduating Class of 1942 he began working at age 17 for the Pennsylvania Railroad, which helped instill a love of trains. He was drafted into the Army two days after his 18th birthday. A proud member of the 2nd Infantry Division, Bob landed at Utah Beach June 22, 1944, and participated in campaigns in the Normandy and Brittany regions of France, liberating the city of Brest before moving to the Ardennes region of Belgium along the border with Germany. Approximately two months later, the relative quiet was shattered by the “Battle of the Bulge”. In the first night of fighting, Robert’s unit was cut off, and they spent two days behind enemy lines before he and the others were captured. Robert spent the rest of the war in three different prison camps, including a 120-mile forced march between camps. Always an optimist, he stated the march between camps was the best part of the war; he wasn’t getting shot at, he got to see Bavaria, and the food was better than in the camp. He was liberated from the camp in Moosburg at war’s end in May of 1945. For his wartime service, Bob was awarded multiple medals and the Bronze Star. In his humility, he would mention that “all you had to do was show up” to get them. In 2011 he was appointed a “Chevalier” of the French Legion of Honor medal by the government of France. Bob was extremely proud of his military service, did numerous speaking engagements, published his memoirs, and made several return trips to Europe to retrace and share his steps with family.
After the war Bob immediately returned to employment with the Pennsylvania Railroad earning a bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s degree in engineering from Drexel University and spent most of his career in the foundry industry. He continued his active membership with the Lansdowne Fire Company until 1976 and was honored with a lifetime membership. Bob also volunteered as a Boy Scout leader with Troop 157 in Lansdowne, from 1965 to 1976.
Bob met Nancy Bross while enjoying furlough on the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey before being discharged from service. They married after a “whirlwind courtship of four years”. Bob and Nancy were married 63 years until Nancy’s death in 2012 and had four children. They were long-time residents of Lansdowne and Walnutport, PA, before residing at Tel Hai.
Bob loved the staff and his friends at Tel Hai. His favorite things included dinners together, the “R.O.M.E.O.s”, hosting happy hours, going out to eat oysters, and playing Pinochle and Bridge.
Bob was predeceased by an older sister Jane, his wife Nancy, and son Robert L. Jr. He is survived by daughter Patricia Costa (Edward), sons Richard and John Thompson (Victoria), two daughters-in-law Karen Thompson and Rhodora Thompson, 13 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Chapel at Tel Hai Retirement Community, 1200 Tel Hai Circle, Honey Brook, PA, on Saturday, January 13 at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to:
The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
1515 Cherry Street
Philadelphia PA, 19102
The Tel Hai Care Assurance Fund
P.O. Box 190
Honey Brook, PA 19344
Arrangements are by Matthew Grieco of Grieco Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. (484-734-8100) of Kennett Square. To view Bob's online tribute and to share a memory with his family, please visit www.griecofunerals.com.