Dateline: March 24, 2005


Former Donley County Sheriff Jimmy Thompson died Monday, March 21, in Amarillo. He was 70 years old.

Services were held here Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Church of Christ with Rev. Bryan Knowles, pastor of Community Fellowship Church, and Eddie Stegall, minister, officiating. Burial with military honors was conducted in Dozier Cemetery with arrangements by Robertson Funeral Directors, Inc.

William James “Jimmy” Thompson was born October 15, 1934, in Clarendon, where he lived most of his life. He attended Clarendon Schools and married Aleta Ellen Coleman on December 21, 1959, at Dozier. He was the former owner of the Dozier Country Store and had worked for various ranches in Donley and Hutchinson counties and in Clayton, New Mexico. He served in the US Marine Corps for four years during the Korean Conflict in the 3rd Marine Division Medical Company Support Division. He was a member of the Clarendon Church of Christ.

Thompson served as a Donley County Deputy for four years under Sheriff Truett Berhens and was elected sheriff in 1980. He held that position for 20 years.

Upon his retirement in 2001, Thompson talked openly with the Enterprise about his accomplishments in office.

“When I took office, we had only one deputy, no 24-hour services, no 24-hour dispatch.” Thompson said.

The late sheriff also listed Donley County’s modern jail as one of his proudest accomplishments.

“This jail is one of the most easily operated jails in the state. It can be run by just one person under normal circumstances.”

He was also proud of holding the line on expenses, catching a lot of “dopers” and a lot of burglars, and overseeing approximately 7,500 arrests over 20 years.

Thompson’s time in office drew him both praise and criticism, and one disgruntled resident even plotted to have him assassinated. He later said he never got too “stirred up about it” and considered it “just part of the job.”

“You can’t suit everybody,” Thompson said, “but I got elected five times.”

Thompson was preceded in death by his parents, Palmer Otto Thompson and Cordia May Sowell Thompson, and by two sisters, Anna Lee Thompson and Nanna Ree Thompson.

He is survived by his wife, Aleta Thompson of Clarendon; two sons, William Thompson and wife Lynn of Clarendon and Walt Thompson of Borger; a brother, George Thompson of Hamilton; a sister, Katherine Lane of Carson City, Nev.; two grandchildren, Todd and Emilie Thompson; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The family requests that memorials be to the Hollis Boys Town or the Lubbock Children’s Home.

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