A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the Harold Thompson Gymnasium at East Middle School will be held 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 15, between the seventh and eighth grade basketball games.
Parking is available behind the gymnasium.
Harold Leonard Thompson was born in Joplin on March 21, 1926. He graduated from Joplin High School in 1944 and served two years in the Navy. After his service, he attended Joplin Junior College from 1946 to 1948. He went on to graduate from Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University) with a bachelor’s degree in education and from Kansas State College of Pittsburg (now Pittsburg State University) with a master’s degree in education.
Thompson taught at Commerce High School in 1950 and returned to Joplin in 1951 to teach for the JoplinR-8 School District. During his 35-year tenure, he served as a coach and physical education instructor at South Junior High from 1951 to 1956, at East Junior High from 1956 to 1964, and at North Junior High from 1964 to 1967. Thompson was assistant principal at South Junior High from 1967 to 1971 and principal at East Junior High from 1971 to 1976. Thompson also coached the tennis team at Joplin High School in 1968 and at Memorial High School from 1969 to 1971. From 1976 to 1986, he served as athletic director for the school district.
After his retirement, Thompson served for two years as athletic director and physical education instructor at College Heights Christian School.
Thompson spent his life teaching and coaching and sharing his love of sports with the community. He started the Golf and Tennis Summer Program for the City of Joplin in 1955. For 20 years, he shared his love of these two sports, giving lessons to countless adults and teenagers throughout the Joplin area. In 1986 Thompson was inducted into the Joplin Golf Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he was inducted into the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame. Thompson passed away in 2012. Thompson is remembered as a life-long sports enthusiast and for his commitment to students and young people and his positive influence on their lives.