Thomas A. Thompson - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

February 1, 1925 - January 2, 2020

Thomas A. Thompson, "Tommy", age 94, of Minneapolis passed away on January 2, 2020. Preceded in death by his wife, LaVonne Thompson; granddaughter, Katelyn Gourley; parents, Allert and Anne Thompson and brother, Richard Thompson. Tommy was raised in Lakefield, MN where his father was a prominent businessman and civic leader. Growing up, he worked in his dad's clothing store, and was always in a suit. Tommy enjoyed camping with the Boy Scouts, along with hunting and fishing with family and friends. In high school, he participated in both band and football. He met his wife of 70 years when her family moved in across the street. They dated shortly before he joined the Navy at 17. He attended Midshipmen's school and was commissioned as an Ensign at Navy Pier in Chicago. He served as a repair officer in the Phillippines on the USS Proserpine (ARL-21). After WWII Tommy married LaVonne, settled in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation as a civil engineer, he began his career with the City of Minneapolis. Serving as a Traffic Engineer, City Engineer and City Coordinator. As the first City Coordinator, Tommy held the strongest executive position in the history of the city. He modernized the streets, highways and sewers, built Orchestra Hall, Peavey Plaza, Loring Park Greenway, IDS City Center, the downtown YMCA, skyways, two stadiums and countless parking facilities. Under Tommy's leadership, the city of Minneapolis was revolutionized, and became a role model for city development. His talents were eagerly sought; after 31 years of public service, he became Senior Vice President of Cowles Media, running 23 media companies outside of Minneapolis. He was responsible for real-estate development, government relations, and the affiliate divisions. His commitment to the community included membership and leadership with the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Metropolitan YMCA, Rotary International, Fox and Hounds, Masons, Cataract Lodge, Minneapolis Scottish Rite, Zuhrah Shriners, Sons of Norway, Richfield United Methodist Church, Nave Institute, and the Lake John Association. Beyond his career and community activism, family was the most important thing to Tommy. His professional resume held but a candle to his loving role as a father, husband, brother, and grandfather. He built a cabin on Lake John in Annandale, MN, where his hospitality and generosity could be felt by everyone who visited, whether it be his own family or his neighbors. Tommy had a charismatic nature and tenacity to him that countless people experienced, and none could forget. His storytelling and welcoming energy instilled awe, wonder, laughter, and wisdom. As a member of the Greatest Generation, he upheld that title by living his life through humility, adoration, and integrity.
His surviving family members include children Greg Thompson (Becky), Susan Kunelius (Don), Mary Ruhme (Paul), Patty Gourley (Kelley); grandchildren, Tom Thompson (Tiffany), Ted Thompson (Janice), Theresa Helms (Brian), Elizabeth Namyst (Jason), Sarah Nelson (Jonathan), Ben Ruhme, Jessica Larson (Brian), Michael Gourley, and twelve great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be given to Richfield United Methodist Church or the MN Arboretum.


  1. Barbara Devlin says:

    On behalf of the Rotary Club of Richfield, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the Thompson family on the death of their family patriarch and long-time member of Richfield Rotary. Tommy often remarked with a chuckle, “I’ve never worked or slept a night in Richfield, but I have always enjoyed being part of the Richfield Rotary Club!” A retired Minneapolis City Manager and Star Tribune executive, Tommy presented many interesting programs at club meetings, many of which focused on topics related to Minneapolis history. Tommy was a faithful contributor to The Rotary Foundation, and headed up the annual fund drive for many years. As a World War II veteran (U.S. Navy), he was also a proud attendee at the annual Rotary Area 3 Veterans Day Luncheon. Tommy will be greatly missed, as a Richfield Rotarian and friend.

    Barbara Devlin, President, Rotary Club of Richfield


    I am so sorry for the passing of our long time member of RUMC and Richfield Rotary, Tommy Thompson. We have missed him as he was struggling with health issues. Tommy was a true blessing to call friend and mentor. Blessings to Tommy and to his family and friends.

  3. Cecil Matthews says:

    I am sorry to learn of the passing of my cousin Tommy Thompson. I remember him especially when we were growing up and we visited Tommy and his family in Minnesota . Blessing to his family. May they be given comfort and strength during this sad time.

    Cecil Matthews

  4. Colleen Gay says:

    We are so sorry to learn of Tommy’s passing and it truly marks the end of an era of Minneapolis history. He was so generous with his tales of his time working to lead the city of Minneapolis, many of his adventures were shared with my Dad, O. D. Gay at the Downtown Council. We first knew the Thompsons as friends of my folks but over the years were fortunate to count them as our friends as we shared many a meal together in Florida. Both Tommy and Lavonne had a gusto for life well lived. Their equals will not be seen again and we count ourselves lucky to have been their friends.

  5. Thomas U Tuttle says:

    Goodbye to an amazing man, scholar, urban planner, historian and so much more!
    It was a great joy to know him and appreciate his gentle brilliance. Tommy was a Big Man but never a big shot, and always the consummate gentleman. All best to family and friends.

  6. Denny Schulstad says:

    Tommy Thompson was my boss, mentor and friend. He was a giant in the development of Minneapolis. During my 22 years as a member of the Minneapolis City Council, I would rely on his expert advice and credit him with much of the positive development in our city. Tommy was a smart, kind gentleman without any enemies. I cherish my many years of friendship with this brilliant leader. He is missed.

  7. Peter Gove says:

    I was out of town on Monday and unable to attend Tommy’s service. I worked in the City Coordinator’s office for Tommy and Cam Andre the summer of 1969 as an intern with the ‘Summer in the Cities’ program. Tommy offered me a job following my college graduation in May, 1970 and I worked in the Coordinator’s office until April, 1971 when I was offered a job in the Governor’s Office. Tommy and Cam were early mentors to me and it was in the office that I met Dick Miller who facilitated my move to state government. I remember Tommy’s energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. He went out of his way to make me feel welcome. My sympathies to Tommy’s family.

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