Dr. William “Tom” Thompson has been a staple in Monroe City. His avid enthusiasm in caring for others at his private medical practice there has led him to become a well-respected physician and leader within the community. His dedication to helping others in need is why he was chosen as this year’s recipient of the N. Philip Shelton Humanitarian Award.
He will be presented with the Shelton Award at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Eva Hill Auditorium at Good Samaritan Hospital's Health Pavilion. The public is invited to attend.
When Thompson learned he would be receiving the award this year, he felt thrilled and very humble. “I knew and worked with Dr. Shelton and I am honored to be a part of his legacy,” he said.
William C. Thompson II was born on Dec. 11, 1954 to William “Bud” Thompson and Helen Like Thompson at Good Samaritan Hospital. He attended Monroe City Elementary School and later graduated from South Knox High School in 1972. After high school, he received his bachelor's degree in biology from Indiana University and later graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine with his medical degree in 1981. Not only was Chicago the city where he received his medical education and training, but it is also where he met his wife, Teresa “Teri” Shaw.
The couple left the windy city and moved back to Monroe City where Thompson opened his private medical practice in 1982. Now, 37 years later, he and his wife have successfully built and managed a thriving medical practice and raised two sons, Dr. William C. “Will” Thompson III, who is currently a second-year resident in family medicine at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, and Chad, who works at Barclays Capital in New York as an investment banking analyst.
Throughout the past three decades, Thompson has dedicated his life to helping others. “My best experience would be my years in medicine,” he said. “Being a physician is arguably one of the greatest occupations. It is an arduous path to become a physician and even harder to remain competent. Yet, the difference I am able to make to improve my patients’ wellbeing, to share their sorrow when a life is lost, and to be included in their crucial family decisions is a blessing.”
Following the example made by his parents, Thompson gravitated toward volunteering and supporting his community. “I watched my parents and what they did to help the community,” he said. “I have watched my extended family as they worked and participated in many community events, giving and sharing their time with others. They became involved to improve others around them. I believe that it is part of my family heritage to be involved in our community and helping our area to be a better place to live.”
His long list of committees and organizations that he is currently on or has been a part of include: Knox County Quail Unlimited, Indiana Heritage Trust Foundation, Knox County Community Foundation, Monroe City Blue Jean Center Board of Directors, Knox County NRCS Wildlife Committee, and many more.
“Thompson was a true crusader for habitat conservation on the local level through his long-time leadership as chairman of the Knox County Chapter of Quail Unlimited (now defunct), the Natural Resources Conservation Service within the USDA, and the Knox County Soil and Water District,” said Mark Crowley, friend and patient of Thompson. “This led him to be named Budweiser's Sportsman of the Year, which resulted in a $10,000 grant that Tom put back into local conservation programs.
“Even to this day Tom is actively involved in wildlife conservation and has recently been working with a group of local landowners to call attention to promoting Knox County as a destination for hunting.”
In addition to wildlife conservation, Thompson is also a supporter of his alma mater, South Knox High School. Not only is he the school corporation and athletic team physician, he is also a member of the South Knox Education Foundation Board of Directors, co-chair of South Knox Basketball Inc., and holds a leadership role in organizing the Sam Alford/South Knox Basketball Golf Outing every year. He even spent a few years coaching eighth-grade basketball and an Indiana Basketball Association team.
“Tom has devoted a great deal of time, labor and money to benefit the community, especially the Monroe City and South Knox communities,” said his friend Keith Doades. “He’s been a great friend of the South Knox schools and their athletic programs. He doesn’t look for kudos and he doesn’t expect a pat on the back, so I am sure there are countless ways he’s given back to South Knox that I am not even aware of.
“He is extremely deserving of the Philip N. Shelton Award.”
When he is not caring for patients or volunteering in the community, Thompson enjoys being outdoors, especially working with wildlife, hunting and fishing. He likes sports, especially basketball, and working with young athletes to improve their abilities.
At the end of the day, the most important part of his life is spending time with his family and friends. “Tom cares deeply about his family, friends and community,” said his wife Teri. “He is the most unselfish and compassionate person that I have ever known. He appreciates, loves and supports his community, his patients, and most importantly, his family.”
Throughout his life as a father, physician, coach, leader and volunteer he has illustrated the characteristics of a humanitarian. His dedication to helping others and supporting his community make him a worthy recipient of this year’s Shelton Award. One of Thompson’s favorite quotes is by John Wooden that states, “the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Thompson may not have realized it, but people were watching.
A family physician in Vincennes, Dr. Shelton lived a life of dedication to his community and serving others. In recognition of his service, the Dr. N. Philip Shelton Humanitarian Award was established in 1998. The purpose of the award is to recognize and promote humanitarian achievement in our community.
Shelton Humanitarian Award nominees must be Knox County residents who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts in working to improve the general well being and happiness of others; worked consistently to meet the physical, social, economic and/or educational needs of individuals in our community; and exemplified the spirit of Dr. N. Philip Shelton by actions and deeds. Some of the past winners include: Kevin Rowland, Horace Foncannon, Scott Shipman, Mark Hill, Siegfried E. Schleicher, Jimmie Morrison, Nancy Carie, Jennifer Jones, Velma Hendrix, John Lyons and Max Renshaw.