obit thompson

Thurl Payton Thompson, 1926-2017

Thurl Payton Thompson of Tehachapi passed away at his home surrounded by his family on Aug. 1, 2017 at 10:55 p.m. He was 91.

Thurl was born in Criswell, Ark., to parents Edward Lawrence and Mary Ella Jeffery Thompson on Jan. 27, 1926.

He married the love of his life, Laura Lanelle Briggs Thompson, on Feb. 27, 1948, in a candlelight ceremony at Calvary Baptist Church in Batesville, Ark.

Thurl served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II aboard a mine sweeper in the South Pacific Theater. He was employed at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, as a fireman at the Air Facility for more than 30 years, retiring as fire captain. Over the years, several young adults joined the family along the way as Thurl and LaNelle's home was always open to young people.

One of the Thompson's "adopted" daughters, Debbie Spinks Broome, said this of the man she called Pa, "Should you meet, he would say, 'Hello .. I'm TP Thompson and how are you today?' He was a friend to many. To know him was a plus. But everyone knew he cherished his wife, and his kids always came first. The things he could teach you were plenty to those eager to learn. If you failed, he would chuckle and say, 'Try it again,' and pretend that he was being stern. There are a million things you could say about Thurl P. Thompson today, but the bottom line is he was a sweet man who was loved by his family and friends, and will be missed every single day."

Upon retiring, he and his wife traveled in an RV across the nation and visited every state except for Maine due to Hurricane Andrew.

When they returned home, they moved to Tehachapi, which they have called home for the past 39 years.

Other than the birth of his children, one of the most memorable experiences Thurl had in his life was the Honor Flight trip he took with his son, Randy, in November 2014.

"At each airport, a crowd of people would welcome the veterans," said Randy. "When we arrived in Washington, D.C., school children came up and thanked him for his service. He really enjoyed that."

During the Honor Flight, Thurl had the opportunity to visit the World War II Memorial, which held a special meaning to Thurl, and were later honored during a ceremony before returning home.

Thurl loved to take walks and do crossword puzzles. He was especially fond of See's Candy.

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, LaNelle; sons Randy Thompson (Jill) of Bakersfield, and son Gary Thompson of San Pedro; son-in-law Rudy Pappas of Big Pine, grandchildren Paul Pappas (April), of Reno, Nev., Nathan Pappas (Sarah), of Tehachapi, and Megan Pappas, of Big Pine; and great-grandchildren Christopher and Gabby, Jeremiah and Uriah Peyton (who was named after his grandfather). Special mention is for Clifford May of San Pedro, who is considered a family member, along with Debbie Spinks Broome, of Kissimmee, Fla,.

He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter Laura Ellen Pappas, brothers Hoyd, Eldon and Larry, and sisters, Sybil and Carolyn.

Thurl was a 38-year member of Tehachapi First Baptist Church, 1049 S Curry St., where services will be held on Aug. 11, 2017, at 11 a.m., with Pastors John Lopez and Clifford May officiating. He will be laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Arvin.

Arrangements were made with the assistance of Wood Family Funeral Service. For condolences, please visit

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