George “Sparky” Thompson Jr., a former housing code inspector, died on Friday, July 26, 2019. He was 71.
He was born July 4, 1948, in Philadelphia. The second of three children born to George E. Thompson Sr. and Irene C. Robinson Thompson, he was nicknamed “Sparky” at birth.
George Sr., originally from Middletown, Ohio, and Irene, originally from White Plains, New York, met while attending Hampton Institute (University), married upon his graduation and moved to Philadelphia where George Sr. had accepted a position at the Wissahickon Boys Club. The couple settled in Mt. Airy and began their family.
Irene had earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Temple University and made sure Thompson and his sister Yvonne received a good education. He attended the historic Logan Demonstration School and Jay Cooke Junior High School and graduated from Central High School.
Thompson was outgoing, active and popular as a teen. He was a member of Central’s basketball and baseball teams and participated in the Boy Scouts and the Wissahickon Boys Club.
He was always a spiritual person and at a young age became active in St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, where he served as an acolyte.
As a youngster, he was faced with many challenges that tested his faith and resolve, but he survived them all. His baby sister, Yvette Veda, died in 1956 from bronchial pneumonia at only 8 months old. He took her death hard.
Thompson’s biggest challenge came as a 16-year-old in 1964, when while coming home from Christmas Eve church service, the car he was riding in was involved in an accident, leaving him in a coma for seven weeks. The only person in the crash who was injured, he had broken glass in his face, a broken right clavicle, a lung contusion and was paralyzed on his right side. The doctors said he might never use his right side again.
His parents kept a 24-hour prayer/care vigil at his bedside in Germantown Hospital. His mother stopped working and spent the days at his bedside until George Sr. relieved her after work and remained at his bedside overnight. Thompson was transferred to Magee Rehabilitation Center in March 1965 and was released in April. He returned to Central High in September and graduated in June 1966.
Thompson attended Hampton Institute (University) where his parents, sister and other family members had matriculated. He pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and was a lifelong member of the Philadelphia Chapter.
He married the late Twyla L. Riddle in February 1971 and one son was born to their union. The couple later separated and Twyla died in 2016.
Thompson graduated from Hampton in May 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He worked for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections as a housing code inspector for more than 30 years. He enjoyed his profession and made many friends.
His only child, Stephen, was tragically murdered in 1995 at 23 years of age.
“After having to endure some rough times, I concluded that there is no pain that can compare to the pain of losing a child,” Thompson wrote in an autobiographical memoir of his life.
“I did not fully appreciate the gift of my son until he was gone from me. If you love someone, let them know it, in thoughts, words and deeds. Love is forever, not life!”
Thompson always said his faith kept him going. He continued his spiritual commitment in various capacities at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. He served as a vestry member, a lay reader and a sub-deacon. He could regularly be seen working with youth, whether at the annual holiday bazaars or driving a school bus for the school that was once part of the church.
“If my story makes one stop, think for a moment or two, how lucky they are to just exist; how lucky they are to live the day and be able to go to bed at night with a clear head and wake up in the morning,” he wrote in his memoir.
“Be grateful, be happy and remember, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”
In addition to his sister, he is survived by: his granddaughter, Chatney Lipschatz; nephews, David and Nicholas Thompson; nieces, Marcia Thompson Preston, Lia Preston and Heather Thompson; cousins, Lorraine Poole-Naranjo, Scarlett Naranjo, Cornell “Tony” Robinson Jr., Lynette Beaumont (Serge) and Judy Ross (David); lifelong friend, Robert Chapman Jr.; and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Aug. 3 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 5421 Germantown Ave. Viewing is at 9 a.m. The Kappa Alpha Psi service is at 10:30 a.m. Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Burial is in Fairview Cemetery.
Bruce Hawkins Funeral Home handled the arrangements.