Alvin O. Thompson, age 91, died on Friday, June 21, 2019 with his loving wife, Margene, at his side in the Firesteel Health Center in Mitchell, SD. From his birth on March 31, 1928, to his death on Friday, he lived with a quiet and abiding faith in Christ, love and joy in his family and wide circle of friends, and unwavering commitment to service of the nation and community.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 at 10:30 am at Storla Lutheran Church, Letcher, SD. Pastors John and Paul Knudson will officiate. Interment will follow at Trinity Cemetery with a meal following at Storla. The family will greet relatives and friends at Bittner’s Funeral Chapel, 805 W. Havens, Mitchell, SD from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019. Prayer service at 7:30 pm.
He was born at home on a farm in rural Letcher to Pete and Darlene (Hunter) Thompson and was the third of four children. He was an agile, playful child with a love of the outdoors, sports and music. In high school, his athletic prowess, speed, and competitive nature were assets to the basketball and track and field teams. He also enjoyed tooting his trumpet in the band and raising his melodious voice in the school and church choirs.
Alvin graduated from Letcher high school in 1946. At age 24, he felt duty bound to enlist in the Air Force in service to his country. He served a year in South Korea at the end of the war. A personal experience during his basic training facing down and defying segregation in the deep South marked his vision of fairness, equality, and inclusion. During service, he was highly regarded as a skilled airplane mechanic and quickly earned the confidence of his commanding officers. He was also honored to sing with the Shepherd Key Noters.
He came home to South Dakota to join the family farm in 1956. He married Kathryn (Knudson) in 1957. They had three boys together. Kathryn died in 1965. A few years later he went to the Twin Cities and enrolled in a Technical School to earn his credentials to serve as a commercial aviation mechanic.
In November 1967, Alvin attended a Lutheran Single Parent’s meeting in St Paul, where he met Margene Collins Zahn. Alvin and Margene were married in St. Paul on March 16, 1968 surrounded by the love of four blended families. On October 15, 1968, through a dual adoption service, the family became one; Alvin adopting Margene’s three girls, and Margene adopting Alvin’s three boys.
The next period of his life was filled with all the activities of a large family---diligence, hard work, and service to church and community. But, the man with the twinkling eyes also made time for fun. After a long day in the field or hog barns, he liked nothing more than shaking off the dust of the day on the pounded dirt court shooting hoops with his sons or challenging any one of his children to a foot race. As his daughters expanded their music abilities, he scooted next to them on the piano bench joining his voice with theirs. He was an amateur photographer and loved capturing the images of his growing, dynamic family. He also liked his motorcycle and had memories making trips with his wife and life-long friends.
Alvin lived an engaged life marked by service; he was a deacon and trustee at Storla Lutheran Church, a member of the men’s choir, and active in Gideons. He also served his community as a thoughtful school board member.
He was known as a kind, gentle man, a great listener. Even in his last days, new friends flocked close to be blessed by his spirit.
Left to honor Alvin and remember his love are his wife of 51 years, Margene, and their children, Mark (Delia), Doyle, Elizabeth, Susan (Brian) Dodd, Cindy (Keith) Gerlach; their grandchildren, Victoria, Matthew, Jessica, Melissa, Amy, Becky, Jamie, Zane, Gabrielle, Jesse, Hunter, Daewood and Maddi; and great-grandchildren, Brian, Mark, Connor, Sadie, Mason, Kenzie, McKenna, Braelee, Brooklynn, Cooper, Jeremy and Jackson. His sister, Eileen (Tobin) and brother, Norman. Members of the extended union of the four families: John (Marj) Knudson, David (Miriam) Knudson, Paul (Bobbi) Knudson, Phillip (Cathy) Knudson, Stanley Collins, Mary Ann (Erik) Wersen, Dennis (Gloria) Collins, Dean Wood, Morris Zahn, Mavis Zahn.
Alvin is predeceased by his parents, his son, Marlon, grandson, Jeremy, brother Denton (Janet). Joining him in heaven, extended family members, Lloyd (Susanna) Collins, Norman (Bev) Collins, Sharon Mortinsen, Kay Wood, Otis (Stella) Knudson, Henry (Grace) Zahn Sr, Myrtle (Louis) Anderson, Mildred (Pete) Makelki, Margaret (Ralph) Paulsrud, Henry, Jr and Evonne Zahn.