Please join us in celebrating the life of our Dad, John Thompson.

We will gather this summer for a memorial service and to send his ashes to the ocean, per his wishes. 

Meantime, sharing your stories, memories and photos would mean so much. 

Tim and Laurie
Posted by Joseph DiLiberto on April 9, 2021
My sincere sympathy to Captain John’s family and many dear friends.
I am sure he always wil be remembered with a smile and perhaps and perhaps a few tears .
I looked forward to seeing him this winter in Islamorada. But I was a little bit
late and l will have to wait until we meet again on Fiddlers Green .

I have arranged for for a Mass for his soul to be celebrated at San Pedro
Catholic Church in Tavernier Florida on April 17 ,2021 at 5:00 PM .
Please join me there if you can . Thank you and God Bless you.

Captain Joe DiLiberto ,  Viking Fleet Montauk N.Y. ,  Retired Firefighter F.D.N.Y.
Posted by Gwen Dennis on March 26, 2021
I’m not sure I’ld ever met anyone like John. He started out doing me a favor, and in the years following, became a trusted friend. He was always telling me “he had my back “. I trusted him. He was , well he was John. The last time I saw him we were getting our vaccines together. He wanted to be sure I got mine, and told them I was his girlfriend. He always, ALWAYS had a story, had a way to make you smile. He was a father, a grandfather, a friend, a fisherman, a fireman.....he was honorable, with integrity, and he was outspoken. He made an impact where ever he went. I am blessed to have him in my life. He was just that kind of man. He is someone I will hear in my head.
Posted by Kasha Gauthier on March 15, 2021
There's a certain twinkle in the eye of a true fisherman. My dad was a fisherman too, so the first time I met John, I could tell from the first firm handshake who I was dealing with. It was clear that John loved his children and wanted the best for them. He'd seen a lot already in life by the time I met him, but like a good fisherman, he took it all in stride, enjoying the journey and appreciating whatever gifts the world offered up to him.
Posted by Charlie Walton on March 10, 2021
It’s been 20 years since I fished with John and Laurie off Montauk, and there hasn’t been a year since then that I haven’t thought of him and wondered whether we would get another chance, perhaps in FL this time. I heard from him out of the blue last year, shortly after my father died, and even though 20 years had passed we laughed at old stories and he consoled me in my grief while we made plans for a reunion post-COVID. That’s the kind of man John was— quick with a joke and quicker with a hug and an open door. I miss you John, I’ll catch up with you in 30 or so years and we’ll catch that next fish after all.
Posted by Karen Manson on March 10, 2021
John was so much more than a renter. He made such an impression in our lives. My husband and I came back from our Keys house soon after John died. Sadly, this trip was so different. John was not there on the back porch to greet us. There will be no more conversations about fishing and politics between John and my husband Tim (yes, they both shared the same political views, so you can imagine discussions over this past year!). John felt like part of our family. Our grandchildren would catch fish off of the dock and John would be there to take pictures. My daughter, through her tears, when told about John, said "we don't even have a picture of him with us". We may not have a picture but he will forever be in our hearts!
Posted by Vinnie Miller on March 5, 2021
I first met John when he would visit his sister Dolly on 204th Street. I knew right away that we would be friends. He was easy going, had a great sense of humor and loved to fish. 

Some of the fondest and funniest times with John were on our many fishing adventures. The first one that comes to mind was the time when the tide and moon were just right. John was excited to get to Montauk for some striped bass fishing. Well we had a great trip. Somehow we got word that Carol went into labor. We made it back to John’s house in record time to find a sheet on the garage door with the message “While you guys were out fishing your wife, John gave birth to your daughter.”
Followed by the time we decided to do some Cod fishing off Cox’s Ledge. We got to Montauk and got a room. The plan was to get a good night sleep get up early and get a good spot on the boat. “Let’s go out for a beer” says John. “John!” said I. “Come on we’ll have just one.” (Like I never heard that from John before.) Well, we had the one and then some. Needless to say we closed the bar. It was too late to get any sleep. We decided to get some shut eye in the boats cabin. When I woke up I told John I wasn’t feeling too well and maybe we could go out tomorrow. John agreed. We gathered our stuff and were ready to disembark when someone said “Where are you guys going?” When we informed the individual of our change of plans and we were informed that we were 30 miles out on the ocean. We spent the first half of the day arguing about who was going to throw-up first and who’s turn it was to get the bait out of the big clam bucket. I decided to end the arguing by going to the clam bucket and putting a handful of clams in my mouth. When I got back to the rail there was John slumped over the rail, rod in hand, waiting for a bite. I tapped John on the shoulder and when he turned I showed him an over flowing mouth of clams. Well, John lets out with that great laugh and says “Time to feed the fish.” We spent the rest of the day laughing, fishing and up-chucking. It was a great day with a dear friend who I will never forget. Journey well my friend.

Posted by Debra Eames on February 24, 2021
My first memory of Mr. Thompson was the day he moved onto Sagebrush Lane. I did not know who he was but I saw this guy wearing a hat with a pom-pom on top, with a big mustache walking down the street with Mr. Trainor. I was young and must have been watching some weird television because in my mind, he look like a kidnapper. I was so worried that he was going to the Trainor’s house since they had so many kids. Later I found out that he was my neighbor, not a kidnapper and I was very relieved to learn that fact. He turned out to be the cool neighbor, but also a neighbor who was always there when you needed him.
I was home alone one afternoon and looked out my back sliding doors to see a man attempting to climb over my fence from the woods behind us. I ran across the street and Mr. Thompson grabbed a rifle or shotgun and ran over to my house. The guy had run away when I saw him but it was nice to know that my neighbor was immediately there to protect me.
When I was 16 years old and a new driver, a boy ran in front of my car and I hit him. Mr. Thompson was driving with another fire fighter and realized the severity of the boy’s injuries. They picked him up and took him to the hospital and probably saved his life. Later that night he came to my house to check on me and told me right then and there to get back out in the car and drive. I told him that I was too nervous but he insisted and got me outside and we drove around the block. He really cared about how I was feeling and that meant a great deal. Aside from that, I have many memories of fun times with him and his family from boating and fishing to pool parties and BBQ’s. Sagebrush Lane was a great block to grow up on and I will always have fond memories to look back on. Laurie and Tim, may you find comfort knowing that your dad meant so much to so many people. I am so sorry for your loss and you are in my thoughts and prayers. May your dad rest in eternal peace.
Posted by Hugh Wynne on February 22, 2021
Uncle John was a father figure to me growing up. He bought me my 1st baseball glove and was just always there for me. Obviously he was a great fisherman which everyone knew, but I really didn't like fishing. I always told him it was boring LOL, but when you went fishing with Uncle John you always caught fish no matter what. I'm sure most don't know that I pretty much followed in Uncle John's footstep as I got older. He went into the Coast Guard, worked for UPS then became an ass kicking part of NY's Bravest (a job he loved). I also joined the Coast Guard (served 5 years) and then I worked for UPS while waiting for my chance to take the FDNY physical when the list was washed due to an unforeseen circumstance, so I never got my chance. 
Uncle John was the person who started me watching hockey at 5 years old for the team that is still my favorite, the NY Rangers. To summarize, Uncle John was a great fisherman, Fireman and Friend, but most of all a great Uncle!!!
Rest in Peace Uncle John... you will always be greatly missed & in my heart forever.  Love your Nephew, Hughie
Posted by Chris Wynne on February 20, 2021
Where do I start? Uncle John was a father figure to my dad. He introduced us to firefighting which my brother and I did in Rockland. He introduced my dad to hockey which turned out to be pretty big in this family. From taking rides up to Merrimack to watch Timmy to meeting us in Ft. Myers to watch the final minutes of my hockey career spent in the penalty box. You gave us something that brought us together no matter how far apart we were.

It’s amazing how you always found joy and light in tough situations. I remember you cracking a few jokes in Grandma Dolly’s eulogy that had the whole room and the priest laughing. You were as good as they come and you will be missed.

Love always,
Posted by Ryan Commisso on February 20, 2021
All the things I did with Pop Pop

1. Fish in the lake and his boat
2. Me and Barrett wrestled with Pop Pop
3. We cooked pancakes with Pop Pop
4. We drove the boat with Pop Pop
5. Sometimes when he would come to our house we would surprise attack him with water guns and he would go inside and get one and we would have an EPIC water fight

Ryan (age 8)
Posted by Barrett Commisso on February 20, 2021
The first thing I think about Pop Pop is when he first taught me to fish. I first learned at Sheldrake which is a lake that was near my house. What happened when we caught a fish was we would usually take a picture with it then throw it back in the water. When he came to visit, me and my brother Ryan would get into the biggest fights to get to greet him first. He was really into wrestling with us in the backyard. He also loved to have water fights and we would get him soaked. When we came to visit him we were in a pool of water with a sea lion in an interactive zoo. We had a water fight with the sea lion and he got even more wet then we could ever get him. Whenever he saw a fire truck he would say “Go get him boys.” He will forever be missed.

Barrett (Age 11 ½ yrs)
Posted by Richard Langerfeld on February 20, 2021
I met John when I was working at Star Island in Montauk and he was Capt on a private boat. We didn't get along.
A couple of yrs later we met at a Dr office having skin cancer procedures. While in the waiting room we got to know each other. We both were born in NYC, went to rival high schools, and served in the Coast Guard.
John got out I went in. John was stationed in the Marshall Islands and Philippines. I served on the Coast Guard cargo ship that resupply those Islands.
So I am proud to have known your father and to be a fellow " Puddle Pirate "
Posted by Susan Boyle on February 19, 2021
John had rented my home in the keys for over 10 years before I decided to sell in 2019. We always enjoyed each others company and remained friends and stayed in touch after he moved. In December John took me and a mutual friend on a lovely boat ride, which all 3 of us enjoyed. I had the pleasure of having breakfast with him at Lorelei 5 days before he left us. I'm grateful for having known his kindness and sense of humor!
Posted by Laura Nolan on February 18, 2021
I met Laurie freshman year of high school and we became instant friends. I remember the first time I met her father at her house...he lit up the room with his enthusiasm and friendliness. His passion for hockey, fishing & his boat also stands out  In my the first time I slept over, we were all up bright & early that morning to attend Tim’s hockey one minded the early hour...excitement was in the air.
Other times I was invited to water ski and hang out on his boat with Laurie & Tim...always such a wonderful and fun time.
His sense of humor, generosity & love of life overall during those times also stands out in my mind. I am grateful for these fond memories. May he Rest In Eternal Peace. Sending love, thoughts & prayers to the entire family.
Posted by John Vitale on February 18, 2021
I have many memories of my dear friend Captain John..First time I met John I was in the Peconic with friends trying to raise at least 1 bluefish.. the only other boat out that dusky evening were these two guys who kept doing this one drift and getting double and triple headers of bluefish every single time..I was starting on the wrong side of the drift every time and getting zilch and I was just green as can be... John starts yelling at me and I think okay this is going to not be nice and I got up close and he told me if you want to learn how to fish meet me down at the Port of Egypt in Southold... He was with Dominick Costello RIP... I looked him up, made a date and took my dad out on Father's day with him and Dominick.. John became one of my best friends and Dominic became my dad's best buddy out on the North Fork.... so now I get the bug for fishing, have my great new friends and I buy a 42 ocean yacht.. John starts telling me about how great it will be to go offshore and catch tuna and mahi and I am as excited as a kid on Christmas!... So our maiden voyage I loaded up the boat with all kinds of food like lobsters ,shrimp , we left greenport our maiden voyage and we had a trip that was almost once in a lifetime ..we caught so many tuna and so many mahi that my pickup truck was completely full between the ice and the fish it was perfect weather and it was just unbelievable.. of course John only had a bologna sandwich, would not touch any of that rich food... When we got to the dock and now I'm discussing with John because he seems to me like a world-class off shore fisherman and I asked him how did he know where to catch those fish and how many times has he done that to be so good at it... He just laughed as John laughs so perfectly and said that was the first time he had ever been offshore and he was completely winging it.. he asked friends for some good numbers to fish on and how to fish offshore... And we crushed it it was the maiden voyage for myself John and the only one is maybe Chris Channing that had a little experience..We laughed about that story forever.. We had many many trips after that and many of them are quite memorable,and I will always miss my dear friend for the rest of my life..
Posted by Juliana Viana on February 18, 2021
I feel so blessed to have met and known “Pop Pop” John. I came to the US in 2012 as an au pair and take care of Barrett and Ryan (Laurie’s children). I was lucky to be part of my new “American family” in which Pop Pop came in the package, as the amazing grandfather who had an inspiring life story and so much to share and inspire! Even with his passing I know that his light will keep shining into those who came to know him, like a sunset over the ocean he so much loved.
Posted by John Banno on February 18, 2021
Wow John was so full of life that is hard to believe he is gone. Before Covid we were scheduled to meet him at the Keys in January when we were visiting friends in the same town. I know John since Laurie married my stepson Rob and always enjoyed his company. We went to Mexico a few years ago and I really got to know him for that week What a man what a life
Posted by James Purcell on February 17, 2021
To my Cousins Laurie and Timmy and the entire Thompson family. There is always a cool Uncle in someone's family and I have to say Uncle Johnny you were the one. You touched so many lives in such a positive manner but you made sure there was humor in the message you conveyed. Your never looked back! That I will never forget! You will be sorely missed. The memories in which you have created throughout life and an occasional fishing lesson will be carried on forever ! Love your nephew Jimmy!
Posted by Joe Lenz on February 17, 2021
Mr.T was like a second father to a lot of us but it’s different when you grow up in such a tight group and you fell as though you fell as you lost your own parent. Laurie & Timmy I have no words to make this any easier I will always remember his giant smile and laugh. And the amount of fish he could bring into a boat. There was the uncanny ability to see right through all the lies... lol
Eternal life in the wave Mr.T
Love Always, Joey Lenz
Posted by Kira Purcell on February 17, 2021
“In the end, things will be okay, and if things are not okay, it’s not the end.” ~unknown

As times get difficult, as the grief and sadness does not show any signs of leaving anytime soon, this quote keeps me going. Take from the quote what you will, and take what resonates. I hope this gives everyone a little bit more peace
Posted by Tom Cairney on February 16, 2021

In 1986 I began sharing my 60 mile commute to the Bronx with a guy I actually didn’t know too well. (We would however go on to become best friends) We had a conversation about fishing. He said he had a good friend who would take us out on his boat. The guy was a New York Fireman from the Bronx who was crazy about fishing. It didn’t take long to find out he was talking about my very good friend John. Small world.  Well, John and Tommy Vaughn and I set a date and went fishing for Blues. Great day until we lost power and began to drift way out past Montauk. The swells were getting really big and we were in a 20 foot boat. This was getting serious. Land was almost out of site when John realized that the “dead man’s switch” was on the deck. He popped it back in and we were on our way back in no time. It was scary (for me not for John) but we caught a huge cooler full of Blues. John just laughed it off. Just one of the great days I spent out there with John. He was the best.
Posted by Barbara Walsh Connolly on February 16, 2021
John was a great guy when we lived in NY.  May he Rest In Peace. 
Posted by Deborah Bergeron on February 16, 2021
I first met John when I was a teenager living with my family on Snowberry Lane. John was a friend of my fathers. Together they were NY strong. John the fireman and my dad a policeman. They also shared a great love for fishing and being out on the water. After my dad passed John remained a dear family friend to all of us. Eventually I got married and had Aimee and Rob. John’s family grew with Laurie and Tim. The girls and the boys were born in the same years and grew to share many interests together. The girls played CYO soccer and went on to gymnastics, horseback riding and dancing, while going to school together. The boys played soccer and St. John of God roller hockey before long careers in ice hockey. Together we traveled almost every weekend to going to games , tournaments and competitions all over the country. We were able to find time for family ski trips with dear friends to Smuggs,Stratton and as far as Sugarloaf in Maine. We had so many fun and memorable experiences. We communicated via CB radios(lol) while traveling. John always had his Irish music playing and would sign off with a line or two of On The Road Again. John was very proud of his Irish lineage and gave us many history lessons on Ireland☘️St. Pats Day was always his absolute favorite. When we had a weekend off it was pizza night from Mama Mias. Summertime was a blast with swimming in the pool, fishing excursions and John making bluefish on the grill. The bond we shared over those years will live on forever. The kids are grown and married each of them celebrating their weddings together. Now they are raising their children and creating a new generation of memories together always in touch with each other. Here’s to you John, may you Rest In Peace. Laurie and Tim always in my heart❤️❤️❤️Deb
Posted by Dick Grasso on February 16, 2021
Lori and I were deeply saddened to learn of your Dad’s passing.
Your father was the consummate gentleman, a great public servant, but above all, a deeply devoted father, grandfather, and very special friend to all who were privileged to know him. We were blessed with his friendship and cherish our memories of the Friday’s after Thanksgiving football game with you two, your Dad and the DeSocio’s(88). We laughed at how much Timmy looked like me as a child!
Lori and I spent a wonderful day with you Dad and Capt. Matt(who was taught the skill by your father)here in Key Largo six years ago. When I spoke with your Dad last Jan. we planned another day together once the CV19 lockdown ended-until then my dear friend.
Tim&Laurie cherish and celebrate all the wonderful years your shared with your incredible Dad. He’s smiling down from Heaven always on your shoulder and in your hearts and those of your children.
Heaven is a better place for your Dad’s presence.
Rest In Peace John.
We’ll never forget you!
Posted by Sandra Funk on February 15, 2021
Rest In Peace John! You were such a nice soul siesta checking in with me. You will be missed my friend
Posted by Diane Gotsulias on February 15, 2021
So sorry to hear of Johnny 's passing. I am the same age and it hits home when someone my age dies too young. I am a friend of Dolly Thompson Wynne and knew Johnny. So sorry for your loss.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Joseph DiLiberto on April 9, 2021
My sincere sympathy to Captain John’s family and many dear friends.
I am sure he always wil be remembered with a smile and perhaps and perhaps a few tears .
I looked forward to seeing him this winter in Islamorada. But I was a little bit
late and l will have to wait until we meet again on Fiddlers Green .

I have arranged for for a Mass for his soul to be celebrated at San Pedro
Catholic Church in Tavernier Florida on April 17 ,2021 at 5:00 PM .
Please join me there if you can . Thank you and God Bless you.

Captain Joe DiLiberto ,  Viking Fleet Montauk N.Y. ,  Retired Firefighter F.D.N.Y.
Posted by Gwen Dennis on March 26, 2021
I’m not sure I’ld ever met anyone like John. He started out doing me a favor, and in the years following, became a trusted friend. He was always telling me “he had my back “. I trusted him. He was , well he was John. The last time I saw him we were getting our vaccines together. He wanted to be sure I got mine, and told them I was his girlfriend. He always, ALWAYS had a story, had a way to make you smile. He was a father, a grandfather, a friend, a fisherman, a fireman.....he was honorable, with integrity, and he was outspoken. He made an impact where ever he went. I am blessed to have him in my life. He was just that kind of man. He is someone I will hear in my head.
Posted by Kasha Gauthier on March 15, 2021
There's a certain twinkle in the eye of a true fisherman. My dad was a fisherman too, so the first time I met John, I could tell from the first firm handshake who I was dealing with. It was clear that John loved his children and wanted the best for them. He'd seen a lot already in life by the time I met him, but like a good fisherman, he took it all in stride, enjoying the journey and appreciating whatever gifts the world offered up to him.
his Life

Living Unapologetically: Life is a Short, One-Way Trip

The Beginning

John (aka – Johnny, JT, Too Tall, Spanky, Mr.T, Captain John) was born on West 109th Street in New York on August 17th, 1946 to Douglas (Stoke-on-Trent in Central England) and Bridget (Corr) Thompson (Toombridge, County Antrim, Northern Ireland). The family moved to West 106th Street then West 204th. 

He was the youngest of their five children (Vincent, Dolly, Mary and Joe). Highlights of John's childhood include fishing in Central and Van Cortlandt Park, box car racing down the streets of Upper Manhattan and being fiercely protected by his older brothers. 

The Formative Years/ Career 

While John received good grades and loved history and geography, the formality and strict nuns at school (not to mention math) and John's free spirit were like oil and water. And though he spoke fondly of his training with the Jesuits, the Brothers’ views and John’s were not necessarily aligned. John was, unsurprisingly, not destined for priesthood.

John joined the Coast Guard in 1963, and after a year of training in Cape May and Alexandria, Virginia, he served on the Kwajalein base in the Marshall Islands and on Palawan Island in the Philippines. Just 19 years old, his job was working the LORAN, guiding ships and planes traveling from Guam to Vietnam and Laos. John had three pets in the Philippines (yes, seriously): a monkey named Sally, a dog named Trumpetao and a cockatoo named Elvis. He finished his time with the Coast Guard on Governer's Island doing Shore Patrol, and left in 1967 just as many of his friends were being drafted to Vietnam. 

In 1967 John and his buddies ran out of beer at the Support the Boys in Vietnam Parade and put a call out to the crowd. Carol Monge and her friends answered that call, which (long story short) ended up with John proposing two years later on the Broadway - 7th Avenue local train during rush hour. 

In 1968 John put on a tie (!) and started working as a Margin Clerk with Kidder Peabody for $85 per week. His office job lasted a total of three months before he threw said tie to the ground and got a job as a fishing mate on the boat, Apache, out of City Island, tripling his income and living an exponentially happier life. In June 1968 a friend of his sister Dolly convinced him to take the FDNY test, a decision that would change the trajectory of his life. 

In March 1970 John joined the FDNY with Engine 84 on West 161st Street & Amsterdam Avenue…“Where Harlem Meets the Heights”, and spent the bulk of his career there (1970 - 1986). John cited going down Broadway on the back step of Engine 84 during his first run as the most treasured memory of his life.  

In 1986 his career started winding down, first on the Staten Island fire boats and then with Engine 320 on Francis Lewis Blvd. in Queens where things were a bit quieter. During this time John earned his 100 ton Captain's license and, officially, became Captain John. While excited for this next chapter, his heart never left Engine 84, and he would later regale his children and grandchildren with stories from back in the hey-day (see videos for the "Foam Prank" story). 

The Family Years

During the 1970’s and 80’s John lived on Long Island with life centered on the family, fishing, the FDNY, talking about fishing, and figuring out a way to go fishing again without getting in trouble.

There were also toga parties, ski trips, Disney, Captree, family gatherings with Aunts, Uncles and cousins, Fishtales Charter Service, cheering at Tim’s hockey games, Saturday morning pancakes, bacon and cartoons, watching NY Giants, Rangers (Potvin still sucks) and Yankees games, Sunday morning Irish music on WFUV, loud and terrible singing, multiple stray dogs and cats who found a home at 59 Sagebrush Lane, and winter trips to the Florida Keys with his fishing buddies. He was shockingly good dancer “for an Irishman.”

John’s idea of interior decorating included massive hammerhead sharks and tuna mounted on the living room wall and other fish themed treasures. He loved talking to everyone and anyone, hooky days spent fishing with his kids, probably too much beer, and he could always be counted on to lend a hand.

He would tell his favorite joke over and over again: 
"Two fish meet in the middle of the desert. One says to the other "long time no sea!" 

When asked about the most embarrassing moment of his life, John cited a Captain's gig he took during this time. Captain John accidentally drove a yacht and its fancy guests up on to some rocks in New York Harbor on July 4th and got stuck there, no fireworks to be seen. His then high-school aged daughter, who happened to be there, helpfully coined a new drink "Regency on the Rocks" and teased him mercilessly with this for many years to come. 

We remember seeing him cry twice during these years: when his mother, Bridget, passed and when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. When asked, he described his greatest sadness as "losing my parents and my siblings so young." 


John retired from the fire department in 1991 and spent several years working part-time jobs between New York and Florida, before moving to the Florida Keys full-time.

He initially lived a full-throttle life, but over the next twenty years, John would live an increasingly slower life (as far as he let on anyway!), cheering his children on through college, travels and building lives of their own.

When asked about his legacy around this time, John said "I never think about legacy issues. I spent 25 years of my life in service to others. I enjoyed it. Never felt like a sacrifice. I've been in places most people have never been, fires etc. The only thing that's ever scared me was when one of the firemen grabbed my leg from under the bed while we were watching the movie Carrie." 

John would tell everyone that his kids were his best friends, but this wasn’t the whole story. Everyone loved our Dad, and throughout his life our friends became his friends, and his friends became family.

Highlights during this time include several trips back to Ireland, summers in Montauk (before it became “full of damned hipsters”), and hosting many friends in the Keys.


John became a grandfather “Pop Pop” for the first time in 2009, and during the next 11 years developed a very close relationship with each of his four grandchildren: Barrett, Ryan, Norah and Nolan.

His favorite memories with them consisted of – you guessed it – fishing, but also an epic family trip to Disney, telling stories, wrestling with the boys, several stints as an emergency “Supernanny” and watching them open Christmas and birthday presents, which he would always tell them was his mom’s favorite thing with her grandkids too.

When asked what he loved most about being a grandfather he said "by far getting a hug from one of the kids. There is no other feeling that compares." 

Winding Down 

John spent his final years enjoying his quiet life in the Keys, watching for manatees and salt water crocodiles in the backyard, feeding the fish off his dock, watching for the Keys’ famous green flash at sunset, going out on his friend Tim’s boat, reconnecting with nieces and nephews, hosting visitors, and driving for Uber for pocket money and fun conversation.

Always an early riser, you could set your watch by his morning routine of coffee (7 Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks) and the New York Post.

John had health challenges during all of these years, but refused to let them dictate life, unintentionally fooling everyone into believing that he would live forever.

Passing & Legacy 

On Friday, February 12th these challenges would ultimately overtake him, and John passed peacefully, in his comfy chair at home overlooking the canal behind his house.  As far as we can tell, his last words that morning (via text) were a joke about a boat. Of course.

John will be remembered for his generosity and willingness to ALWAYS help where he could, love of laughter and storytelling, appreciation for nature and beauty, and, above all, his love for his family and friends.

He leaves his children, grandchildren, friends and family with these life lessons:

1.Treat others the way you want to be treated; say I love you often so people know

2.Never leave fish to find fish

3.Always carry a Band-Aid in your wallet

4.Don’t start something unless you’re going to finish it, and there’s no quitting halfway through

5.Always cheer for a good play, even if it’s for the other team (unless it’s the Islanders) and your friends don’t approve

6.If you think you have it tough, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

7.Be nice to everyone, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or differences

8.Talk to strangers; they are only strangers until they become friends

9.The first warm day of Spring is Hooky Day

10.Learn to laugh at yourself, early and often

11.God is everywhere, not just in church

12.Most of life success is about being lucky, not good

13.Respect Mother Earth; take time to appreciate the beauty of the natural world

14.Never leave the stadium early, even if your team is getting walloped and you’re going to sit in traffic for hours

15. If you take a kid fishing you'll never have to go looking for them 

16. One million photos of sunsets and fishing trips are absolutely not enough

We interviewed our Dad several times over the years, in both spoken and written forms. At the close of our last written session, when asked if there were anything else he would like to say, John wrote this:

"WOO HOO! WHAT A RIDE! I would do it all over again, with no hesitation. Yes, there were some bumps along the way. But all and all a great life. Dumb luck followed me all the way through." 

Written by Tim Thompson and Laurie Thompson

Recent stories

It's Never Really Goodbye

Shared by Robert Commisso on March 16, 2021
How do you summarize a character like Pop Pop Thompson.I can’t really remember the last time I called him John - although there was a time when that’s all I called him – he’s been Pop pop for the past 11 years and it’s a name that really seems to suit him.In fact, he chose it and although he never said so, I’m pretty sure it was short for Popeye.

I still recall when I first met him and of course everyone knows when meeting your girlfriend’s father for the first time that Mr. Thompson is the preferred way to address him to show maximum deference.I remember the first time I called him Mr. Thompson it was almost as if the words hadn’t yet finished leaving my mouth before he corrected me to call him John.In that moment, I’m not sure who felt more awkward with me addressing him as Mr. Thompson.But that was Pop pop – he was never any better or any worse than anyone else – even his daughter’s newboyfriend.He just wanted to be seen as part of the crew – albeit the captain.

I remember John as the guy that people wanted to be around which is ironic because he was also quite the introvert who relished his alone time.It was immediately clear to me that his kids loved to spend time with him.His friends loved to circle up with him and share stories.His family all seemed to be caste from a similar mold to the point that it was sometimes hard to discern who was John and who was Jimmy or Jim, etc.It was always just loud banter with constant laughing.You could tell that he surrounded himself with people who had the same love of storytelling.Almost to the point where it sometimes felt like they were crew mates on his fishing boat.In fact, the few times I had the honor of going out fishing with Pop Pop, I got to hear all the stories from his commercial fishing days, or the fire department days, or the 9 foot tall kids who played hockey (or that’s how the story sounded).They were always told with such enthusiasm and reverie that it was almost like he was transported back in time while telling them.The time travel appeared to also alter his memory because he would sometimes tell the same stories multiple times on the same fishing outing.I specifically recall the trip that we took with Timmy to Costa Rica where we had 4 hours at sea where Pop pop was in all his glory.It almost didn’t matter how many times he told the same stories because I started to realize that it wasn’t about the details of the story…it was more about how much just enjoyed telling them.The fun of it was to see how excited he’d get and how his arms would gesticulate and his shoulders would shrug up and down while he bounced through telling the story.

Beyond being a story teller, Pop pop was also a life preserver.On so many occasions he bailed us out of a child care crisis and would come up from Florida for weeks to spend time with our kids.They absolutely loved having him around to play with.I still remember the “whoop whoop” game where the kids would pat him on his bald head countless times and he’d say “whoop whoop”. That was the whole game…it was almost cartoonish but he never got bored with it.He had a ton of patience for our kids shenanigans, would have water gun fights, roll around on the floor with them, taught them how to dig for worms and gave them a joy for fishing (of course).He tried to push hockey on them but Laurie put the kibosh on that so as to not replay her childhood in hockey rinks.

With all the joy that John brought to our family, the only thing that I could say ever really bothered me about him was his tendency to leave early.You could tell when he would start to get happy feet and need a change of scenery.I can honestly say that it was the only thing that really irked me about him until I realized what that really meant.The worst thing about the guy is that he left you wanting more – Ironically, I kind of hope that’s the memory that I leave some day.

Pop pop is going to be sorely missed in our lives.There’s a part of me that doesn’t really accept that he’s gone.That he’s just going to show up one day with his 6 pack of Ensure, a newspaper and McDonald’s coffee for one more game of “whoop whoop”.In my weaker moments I think that it’s not fair for him to be taken from us but also realize that he lived and died on his own terms and left friends and family behind that want more…what a great impression to leave on the world.I’ll miss you Pop pop!!

I love him still

Shared by Vivian Garcia on February 21, 2021
John used to drive me as nuts from his politics (many years ago), as he did from his joyful shenanigans. When he finally gave Nixon up, for example, he did so with as much honest glee as when he shared one of his apparently infinite jokes and stories. I will never forget his head back, open-mouthed laughter that you can practically hear from one of the pics I posted (and lots of others).
My pics are from a weekend houseboat party off Clayton, NY in the Thousand Islands in the summer of 1981. Naturally by the end of it, all knew him as Captain Johnny. This despite the fact that he had not met most of the party before, and that he'd bested some significant competition for the title. He got us safely to our destination, Endymion Island, and plenty of spots in between. There was also some serious game for "the life of the party" but John maintained his streak.
I think it central to who he was that he loved to make laughter, and laughed at others' jokes just as hard as he did his own. As you can see from the pics, he also "adopted" a dog. And the pic of him and Carol in the back of a station wagon is nothing short of a cover photo.
Say what you will about the perils of fb, but only through it could we have reconnected, just a couple of months ago. I even invited John to usher his Isla Morada to Bath, Maine, where I now live. As true to form as I have ever known him to be, he cracked me up yet again with his response: "I'd rather ride a unicycle down I95 from Maine to Miami with one leg in a hurricane! Those rocks don't move!" I still think I could have convinced him to come up here, given more time. His is one of the spirits who will live on and on.

The Ultimate Compliment...

Shared by Shaila Manyam on February 21, 2021
I first met Mr. T at a summer party on Long Island for Laurie's birthday.  She and Rob I think had just started going out at that point.  In addition to Laurie's friends, it was all of Mr. Thompson's retired and current firefighter brothers.  I know how seriously their take their grill skills, so when Rob and I started firing up the BBQ to make everything (including freshly-caught fish by the proud papa), we got, um, some strong feelings and an attempted coup ;-) Mr. Thompson was the one who told his buddies to let us do our thing -- and the genuine compliments we got from NYC's bravest for our efforts are ones I keep to heart to this day -- along with such fond memories of a wonderful, funny and sweet man who doted on his kids and grandkids.  His joy in life, family and his service to New York will be greatly missed.