Hall Williams Thompson Sr., a longtime >friend and supporter of UAB, passed away last fall. His commitment to UAB included significant contributions to help grow the UAB Athletics program. Together with his family and through his company, Thompson Tractor, he supported several other programs and units on campus including the School of Medicine, School of Engineering, and the Department of Music.
“Hall Thompson was a wonderful community leader and generous supporter of UAB,” says Shirley Salloway Kahn, Ph.D., vice president for development, alumni, and external relations. “He was a valued and trusted friend of the university and provided leadership for many important university endeavors. He was generous with his time as well as his financial resources, and his advice and counsel helped build a solid foundation for the growth and development of the university’s athletic programs and the School of Medicine. We were saddened by his death, but he will long be remembered at UAB and in Birmingham—the community he loved so much.”
Born in 1923 to DeWitt Clinton Thompson Jr. and Mary Gibson Thompson, Hall Thompson grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. He attended Vanderbilt University until called to serve his country in World War II. He married his beloved wife of 66 years, Lucille Ryals Thompson, in 1944. From March 1943 until January 1946, he served with the United States Army Air Corps in the Pacific.
Returning to Nashville following his military service, Thompson again entered Vanderbilt, while at the same time assuming responsibilities at General Truck Sales, a company founded by his father. After 12 years of serving in all facets of the company, he left the Tennessee business and acquired the North Alabama dealership for Caterpillar, establishing Thompson Tractor Company, with its headquarters in Birmingham. Under Hall Thompson’s leadership, the firm became one of the most successful Caterpillar dealerships in the nation. Thompson retired from the company in 1983. In 1959, he had established Thompson Realty Company, where he continued to work until his death.
In Birmingham, Thompson was always
heavily involved in community affairs. He served on a number of corporate boards, including AmSouth Bank, South Central Bell, BellSouth Telecommunications, Protective Life Corporation, and Alabama By Products Corporation. He served on the board of the Crippled Children’s Foundation and was president of the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, formerly the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital. He was past director of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the State Chamber of Commerce as well as the Associated Industries of Alabama.
Thompson received an honorary doctor of law degree from UAB in 1978 and an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Samford University in 1982. He was inducted into The University of Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 1992 and was inducted into the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2004, he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. He received the Spain-Hickman Distinguished Service Award from The Birmingham Rotary Club in 2008. He also was honored by the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame as Alabama’s first Distinguished Sportsman in 1985.
Thompson’s extensive background in golf combined with the expert design of Jack Nicklaus resulted in the 1977 development of the golf course and community known as Shoal Creek. The course gained national and international recognition in the world of golf, has hosted four national championships, and has been ranked the number one golf course in Alabama every year since its inception.
Maintaining the Momentum / Summer 2011