Winfred Moten "Mote" Thompson, Jr., 95, of Ashland, KY, died of natural causes on Saturday, June 17, 2017, at the Horizon Bay Adult Living Facility in Sarasota, FL.
Mote was born in Eccles, WV, on September 11, 1921, son of a New River Coal Company mine Inspector, Winfred Moten Thompson Sr., and his wife, Bertha Hunter Thompson.
Mote grew up in the coal camp of Minden, WV, and played on the cliffs and slag piles near Scrappers Corner. As a youth, he worked for the New River Coal Company picking out impurities from the mined coal. At 13, Mote self-registered to attend Oak Hill High School (class of 1940) to avoid being taught by his sister, Ruby, who taught at the Minden School. His family later moved into a new home on Duncan Ave. in Oak Hill. He played clarinet in the Oak Hill High School Red Devils Marching Band and was awarded a music scholarship to Ohio University. However, he gave it up to enlist in the Navy to fight in World War II.
On May1, 1942, upon his graduation from flight school, Mote's sister, Virginia, a member of the Navy WAVES, pinned Naval officer Second Lieutenant Mote Thompson's wings on him. Mote later transferred to the Marine squadron VMR352 in which Tyrone Power was also a squadron pilot. He logged 3000+ hours of flight time, island hopping in the Pacific Theater flying a R5C Curtis Commando. Mote flew supplies into, and wounded personnel out of, hastily built island landing strips. Late in World War II, he made an emergency landing in Shanghai, China, after engine failure. A Marine mechanic did not have the parts to repair Mote's plane. Undaunted, the mechanic solved the parts problem by stealthily repurposing an engine from a US Government-donated Chinese R5C sitting on the same runway, thus facilitating a speedy repair of Mote's R5C.
After the war, Captain Mote Thompson returned to Minden to marry his high school sweetheart, Mary Elisabeth Ripoll, daughter of a coal miner, Vicente Casto Ripoll, and his wife Elsie Fridley Ripoll, at Oak Hill United Methodist church on June 16, 1946. Mote and Mary moved to Morgantown, WV, and lived in a student Quonset hut while Mote attended West Virginia University. He received his joint undergraduate and law degree in 1951. While attending college, Mote worked weekends and summers in College Park, Md., as a flight instructor to countless GIs using their GI Bill education money.
Mote and Mary moved to Clarksburg, WV, in 1951 where Mote joined the law firm of Stathers and Cantrell, eventually becoming a Partner. He also served as the Chairman of the WV Junior Bar Association 1956 and 1957 and was an active member and Sunday School teacher at Stealey Heights Methodist Church. While in Clarksburg, Mote and Mary had two sons, Thomas Gregory and Jeffrey Hunter.
In 1971, Mote and Mary moved to Ashland, KY, where Mote worked for Ashland Oil Inc. as head of litigation. Mote and Mary hosted the last large founding members VMR352 Squadron reunion in Lexington, KY, in the 1990s. The grand reunion included a tour of Lexington and its horse farms and an outing to Keeneland for horse racing.
While in Ashland, Mote and Mary became active members of the Ashland First United Methodist Church. Even in his early 90s, Mote loved to help with the Church's weekly Wednesday night Bible study dinners and was always there to help clear dishes at the end of the meal.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Elisabeth Ripoll Thompson, and his siblings, Ruby Baumgartner, Mary E. McKee, Virginia Stevens, Ralph, Harvey E., William R., and James Edward.
He is survived by his two sons, Thomas and wife, Elizabeth, of Longboat Key, FL, and Jeffrey and wife, Elisa, of Minneapolis, MN, and four grandchildren, Tanner, Tazio, Hayleigh and Calisto Thompson.
Services will be held on Saturday, July 1, 2017, at 12:00 noon at Tyree Funeral Home in Oak Hill, WV. Entombment will be at High Lawn Memorial Park Mausoleum in Oak Hill. Friends may call one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the funeral home.
Online condolences may be sent at www.tyreefuneralhome.com
Arrangements by Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Published on June 24, 2017