By ANGELA HUSTON
Special to The Gazette
WADSWORTH â€” Of the original eight Thompson siblings of Wadsworth, the remaining five and their mates are remarkably close. These very good friends (and neighbors) have been married a total of 257 years and collectively have 21 children, 39 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Together is the operative word, for each couple as well as for their extended family.
Clyde and Winnie Thompson Wolf (August 18, 1944), Bob â€œGusâ€ and Barbara Thompson (Jan. 22, 1955), Dick â€œDiggerâ€ and Pauline Thompson (Sept. 28, 1957), Curtis â€œBillâ€ and Ethel Thompson (Aug. 16, 1959), and Harold â€œWhiteyâ€ and Donna Thompson (Aug. 19, 1967) continuously rejoice in each other.
Parallels abound in their lives. Clyde, 87, and Dick, 74, owned excavating companies, Bill, 70, was a truck driver, Harold, 70, was a carpenter and Bob, 76, worked at Bearfoot Sole and at Bicksler Electric. The wives were homemakers first and worked part-time after the children were in school. All have at least one child who is a teacher, all but one brother served in the military and all have been active in the community.
Winnie, 83, helped at the Health Department and still serves Hospice. Pauline, 70, sits on the board of the Salvation Army and is â€œsecretaryâ€ to her very involved husband, Dick: Meal on Wheels, Wadsworth Civil Service Commission, church and Woodlawn Cemetery trustee, Business Advisory Council for the schools, condo association board, Isaac Walton League, past Post Commander/American Legion, Moose Lodge, VFW and sports events with grandchildren.
Bill, too, does Meals on Wheels, belongs to the American Legion, the VFW and the retired Teamsters. Ethel, 75, crochets, does scrapbooking, has made more than 100 Sunshine Baskets and regularly meets with her Lunch Bunch Ladies.
Bob is a member of the American Legion and VFW and helps at church. Barbara, 71, looks after her grandchildren and for more than 50 years has met regularly for lunch with high school girl friends. Harold is a member of VFW, Amvets, the Eagles, and the carpentersâ€™ local. Donna, 70, meets monthly with eighth-grade girl friends.
Many are former schoolmates who still share the same pastimes: golf, hunting, fishing, yard work, woodworking and traveling. Mostly, the wives prefer being with the grandchildren, gardening or playing bingo to fishing, but enjoy the familyâ€™s frequent fish fries.
The Thompsons have always been close, but they and their spouses formed an even stronger bond when their mother was ill and they spent many years caring for her around the clock. A summer picnic, originally a birthday party for their mother, continues 40 years later as one of the Thompson familyâ€™s annual reunions; the other is at Christmas. And, because they simply enjoy each othersâ€™ company, the five couples meet monthly for breakfast plus spend a day together whenever possible, outings to Dick and Paulineâ€™s cottage or bus trips to a casino.
Among their collective meaningful moments, Clyde and Winnie like visiting Las Vegas. Years ago they moved to Michigan and built a home, but soon returned to be near family. Travel is good, but Wadsworth is home.
For their 50th anniversary, Dick and Pauline returned to Niagara Falls, their honeymoon destination, but Pauline said â€œwe share the concern of each otherâ€™s health problems, too. Sticking together through tragedies is as important as during the good times.â€
Bob and Barbara feel a special pride that the first and only home they have ever owned is the original homestead where the Thompsons all grew up. Bill and Ethelâ€™s trips out West to visit their daughters are very special, while two trips for Harold and Donna, one out West and the other to Alaska, were highlights. All agreed the many trips on which they took their mother are very memorable.
In the years to come they anticipate more travel (and fishing), but the four oldest couples will stay in Wads-worth (Harold and Donna live in nearby Canal Fulton).
Many hope to see a great grandchild marry.
In the meantime, these good friends laugh easily and often look forward to their fish fries, Friday breakfasts and days spent together as they continuously celebrate long and happy marriages. They truly represent what marriage, family and friendship are all about.
Huston may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.