ForeverMissed
Stories

Share a special moment from John's life.

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.

Keys Family

Shared by Melanie Marcus on February 19, 2021
We will really miss your Dad. I can’t believe we have only known him 2 short years. It feels like he has been in our lives so much longer. My kids, husband, and I looked forward to seeing John each time we went down to the Keys House. My kids loved him like a Keys “grandpa”. It was the best, waking up each morning (really early thanks to toddlers) and seeing his smiling face the moment we went downstairs. He was always reading the news and sipping his coffee on the patio. It felt like our home away from home! He loved giving us bags of lettuce for the manatees and the kids lit up each time he came out to see what fish they had caught! They would always scream “look Mr. John!!” with such excitement! He was such a great guy and we will miss him dearly. We are so thankful to have had the pleasure of knowing “Mr. John” and will never forget him. 

- Melanie (Tim Manson’s daughter/ Tom’s niece), Tim, Madi, and Merrick

A great guy

Shared by Tom Manson on February 18, 2021
We were fortunate to have John in our lives the last 2 years. We were looking for a downstairs tenant for our house and he called me. I gave him the contract with the penalty clause if paid late and he responded he would pay early and wanted a discount. He would always call me Tommy and I would always correct him and say no it’s Tom. I will miss him giving me shit and me giving it right back. He had a great impact on all the Mansons and I am thrilled to cross paths with him
Shared by Irene Brook on February 18, 2021
Met JT when Laurie and Rob married and have grown close over the years.  My only disappointment was that he never got to teach me how to fish.  I loved our daily conference call on FaceTime which Ryan initiated.  JT was always a source of amusement and kept Ryan and me in stitches.  He will be sorely missed by all.

John Loved His Irish Music

Shared by Thomas J Lonegan on February 17, 2021
Going thru this tribute and listening to the Irish songs reminds me of a time I went fishing with John and my buddy Richie Fernandez.  Richie is a big guy and you know how John loved the big guys! lol.  John use to call Richie the biggest Cuban in captivity!  Well we set out from Montauk harbor on our way to the point all the way Irish music blasting from the speakers. After about an hour of bagpipes my buddy was waving the white flag yelling " I give up, I give up! I surrender"!!  I guess he had a different taste in music.  You all know the rest of the story ...we banged the fish!

The first time I met John

Shared by Thomas J Lonegan on February 16, 2021
January 5th 1979.  My first tour as a NY City firefighter in Engine 84, starting at 9am.  Standing in the kitchen as a brand new probie not knowing what to expect, in comes this guy bring the place to life with the charm we all now know well.  I could tell from the banter that transpired that this was going to be good place to start my career.  Of course John was right in the middle of it telling stories about his latest fishing trip to the Dry Tortugas with his buddy Miller. Having a love for fishing myself and having been down to Key West, you knew there was going to be a lifelong friendship.  On my first response that tour, we responded to a fire with flames coming out 3 windows in a six story occupied multiple dwelling. Standing in the street waiting to grab my fold of hose, John observed me jumping from one leg to the other.  Who wouldn't be nervous?  It was my first frigging run!.  Well that started it.  For the next 40 plus years of our friendship I had to endure hearing him tell that story to everyone we met with only the way Johnny T could say it.  I love you brother. 
As I continue to write I start you cry.  Almost sounds like a poem.  I will add more memories and reflect as we go along.

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