DeWitt Clinton Thompson III died Monday morning in his sleep at his home.
Born Sept. 18, 1917, to his now deceased parents, mother Mary Gibson Thompson and father DeWitt C. Thompson Jr., he was also pre-deceased by his sister Sue Thompson Fort. DeWitt is survived by his wife of 68 years, Diana Roberts Thompson, his brother Hall W. Thompson (Lucille), and his sister Betty Thompson Hobbs.
He is also survived by his daughter Mary Becca Cherry and her children Diana Finlayson (Reid), Bill Cherry (Kelli), and Elizabeth Barrett (Charles); his son DeWitt Thompson IV (Jackie), and his children DeWitt Thompson V (Jamee), Mary Britton Cummings (Jody), John Thompson (Margaret), and Jacqueline Towery (McClain); his daughter Diana Wilker (Marvin) and her children Scott Alden, Katharine Mosher (Bryan), Niel Alden, and Laura Rebecca Alden; and his daughter Carolyn Beckner (Jim) and her children Catherine Perry (Chase), Jim Beckner Jr., Diana Beckner, Helen Beckner, and Jack Beckner; as well as his 15 great-grandchildren.
DeWitt was truly the prototypical patriarch of his relatively large family. He was affectionately known as “Pop” to all his grandchildren and great grandchildren, in whom he took great pride and interest as they grew and developed.
Throughout most all his life, DeWitt had a passionate interest in sports, especially golf, football and baseball. In his younger years, he was a well-accomplished golfer; and he was a lifelong and avidly faithful supporter of the Vanderbilt football program. He attended Vanderbilt University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps, where he served as a flight instructor throughout World War II. After his military service and throughout his business career, he continued his engagement and enthusiastic interest in flying.
Upon return from military service, DeWitt joined the company recently started by his father and George Green as the 13th employee of Thompson and Green Machinery Co., a Caterpillar dealership. He was always very appreciative of the opportunity to be a Caterpillar dealer and was passionate about the company's many products throughout his life, including after his retirement as chairman of the dealership.
As a businessman, he also was very focused upon the customers who purchased Caterpillar machines, and he especially appreciated those well-established construction companies in the late 1940s (like Oman Construction Co.) whose patronage he always credited with giving Thompson and Green an initial chance to be successful.
In 1957, he helped his father and brother establish a new Caterpillar dealership in Northern Alabama, Thompson Tractor Co. Three decades after that, he assisted Thompson and Green in its acquisition of two Caterpillar dealerships in West Tennessee and North Mississippi.
In his extracurricular activities, he gained much enjoyment and gratification from his involvement with the care and development of the Belle Meade Country Club golf course. And, in his retirement years, he spent most winters in the North Palm Beach area where he enjoyed sharing with many friends and family members his membership in the Seminole Golf Club. DeWitt also loved his many beagle dogs, and he was a dedicated supporter of the Nashville Humane Association.
The Thompson family expresses its great appreciation for the caregivers who generously gave of themselves in special and loving care for the past few weeks within the Thompson home: Beverly, Elizabeth, Samantha, Cherrie, Crystal, Renee and Anthony.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Vanderbilt University Athletics, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Nashville Humane Association or a charity of one's choice.
Visitation is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. in Courtenay Hall of the First Presbyterian Church, 4815 Franklin Road in Nashville, with a memorial service to follow at noon in the sanctuary of the church.