Mayor Tom O’Brien put forward those thoughts this week on the passing of Donald Tompkins, a former deputy mayor and councillor who served on the Stephenville town council for a total of 20 years.
Mr. Tompkins died on Jan. 2, just weeks shy of his 97th birthday, Jan. 21.
“I don’t think there was anybody in Stephenville that didn’t know Don,” O’Brien said.
When O’Brien came on council in the early 1990s, he was serving with Mr. Tompkins at that time and learned a lot from him on how municipal politics works.
“I had the pleasure of not only being a fellow council member, but becoming a personal friend of his as well. There were many times I had discussions with him to draw on his expertise on different matters,” O’Brien said.
He said Mr. Tompkins also had a great interest in health care in the Bay St. George Region, and the two of them served together on the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital Foundation.
“Don was a big contributor to the dialysis service starting up in Stephenville and personally donated to the purchase of equipment to start the renal dialysis unit in the old hospital,” O’Brien said.
Mr. Tompkins used money he collected as a Justice of the Peace to go towards the dialysis unit and also towards the Kindale Library project, challenging others to donate as well.
His eldest son, Graham Tompkins, said the family was coping well on Friday, adding their father’s death wasn’t a surprise and family members were “working at saying goodbye.”
“Dad lived life to the fullest and to a good age,” he said.
After graduating from Agricultural College in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1940, Mr. Tompkins served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He was part of the RAF crew as a gunner on the ground.
Following his military service overseas, he returned to be the agricultural representative on the West Coast of Newfoundland, then spent several years working for the U.S. Government at the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base in Stephenville, finishing off his career with the town.
His first service was as deputy mayor on the first Stephenville council when the town was incorporated in 1952.
It was as part of that council that finances were leveraged to pave Main Street in Stephenville using equipment from the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base.
In the 1980s, Mr. Tompkins pushed as a councillor to have engineers brought in to find leaks in the town’s water system, which were repaired and saved the town a lot of money.
Graham said family members are very proud of the accomplishments their father made through the years. His other involvements included being a founding director of Indian Head Co-op, member of the board of directors of Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital and a captain of the 708 Air Cadet Corps.
Mr. Tompkins was always interested in the land and its preservation, and demonstrated that through silviculture on family land in the Codroy Valley and stocking Mine Pond with rainbow trout. He took great pleasure in seeing families from the Stephenville area fishing out of the pond he helped create.
Visitation takes place on Sunday, Jan. 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Russell’s Funeral Home in Stephenville, while his funeral mass will take place on Monday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Church.