Two years after the end of World War 2, 1947 brought to the world: the beginning of the Truman doctrine; the marriage of Elizabeth, future queen of England to Philip; entrance of Jackie Robinson, first African American to Major League Baseball; the introduction of the “Round the World” air travel by Pan American Airline, another World Series win by the New York Yankees, and the birth of Ronald Lloyd Thompson.
Ronald was born to Inez Forest and Newton Wilford Thompson on January 6 in Jamaica on a day when the leading headlines of the island’s main newspaper were: “Full scale war looms in Indo-China”; “Coconut prices slump in the USA”, “Three of 5 Warships leave today”, “No Rise in Price Of Bread – Yet” and, “Europe, North America in Cold Grip.”
Despite all the goings on in the world, he was sheltered within the small, rural community of Lennox Bigwoods, located in the parish of Westmoreland, where he spent his childhood, along with big brother Milton Emmanuel Thompson, before migrating to the United States. Ron was among the just under 73,000 legal migrants from Jamaica to the United States in the 1960’s when at the age of 19 he joined his brother in the city of Peekskill, upstate New York.
He had attended Ashton Primary school in Westmoreland, where his solid academic grounding prepared him for later studies at Peekskill High School in New York and Iowa’s Pella College.
Anchored in and sustained by deep faith, Ron lived in pursuit of Christlikeness, borne out in his patience, love, kindness, self-control, equanimity, prudence, discipline, and other wonderful virtues. This inner state often manifested in song as his tenor was a locator which could often be heard before seeing him as he went about his daily routines. If not his voice, a small radio which he carried outdoors, or the stereo system in the house would be on, playing either uplifting music or inspirational talk.
This voice played a role in attracting his life partner Sheryll Thompson, who was drawn, not to his song, but to his powerful delivery of the word of God when she first heard him speak during a visit to Refuge Church of Christ in 1973. Under the guidance of Sheryll’s godmother and Pastor Ivy’s mutual friend Kathleen, a courtship developed, culminating in marriage on January 21, 1974. From this union has come two sons - Ronald Thompson Jr., Jason Thompson; daughters-in-law Omnika Simmons Thompson and Paulette Walker Thompson as well as grandchildren Imani, Timothy, Sebek, Rselah, and Jechiliah.
He also inherited an extended family in Sheryll’s many siblings, nieces, and nephews, embracing each of them as his own flesh and blood. This is a function of the man he was, but also a product of his own wonderful widespread family of Thompsons, Longbridges and Forrests who reside in Jamaica, USA, UK, and Canada. Special among them are Milton’s children, his niece Janice, nephew Patrick and grandniece Lilllynn.
It is important to note that throughout his life, he had the luxury of being nurtured by several mother figures including his precious grandmother Mrs. Rebecca Blackwood Thompson and Pastor Ivy Thompson, beloved stepmother. For many years, Ron journeyed across the U.S. by car on an annual summer visit to Pastor Ivy’s home in Florida where he cared for her and ensured all was well with the house. This nurturing perhaps was a feature in his fondness for children. Having been called “Ron” and “Ronny” by family and friends all his life, he was especially pleased to have gained the titles “Grandpa” and “Pop-Pop”. He was so fond of children and was unashamed in spoiling them as he believed they should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and have pleasant memories.
Jamaicans describe a punctual person as someone off whom the clock can be set…that was Ronald. At 11:45pm, every night, his car could be heard winding up the driveway after his shift for which he typically left home promptly at 2:30pm to get there at 3pm, despite it being a 10-minute commute. Having devotedly served St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson as a member of the psychiatry clerical team for 43 years, he retired on April 3, 2017. But he never stopped going.
Undoubtedly, his disposition toward serving others led him to the field of health care, but also brought tremendous benefits to those within his community including to the churches he attended over the years - Refuge Church, Highway Church of God, Redeeming Love Christian Centre, and Christ Church of Montclair and
Rockaway - to which many hours of voluntary service were given. His neighbors will remember him as one who was always available to help, and one who was willing to help make their yards and gardens as immaculate and flourishing as his. In November 2015, the City of Clifton presented him with the “Beautification Award”, signed by Mayor James Anzaldi, in recognition his exemplary maintenance of his home and contribution to making Clifton a “beautiful, healthy and inviting place to live.”
This award was unexpected, but certainly fitting and well earned. His commitment to order and beauty around his home reflected who he was as a person; a peaceful man with a good heart, who carried himself with dignity and poise. And this was certainly recognized by his friends including neighbors Dean and Diane DeGhetto and Oliver Masters; as well as workmates Darlene Borromeo Lisa Marasigan, Dorothy White, Jackie Whittaker, Annie Thomas, Jasmine Cooper, Carline Timothee and, Josette Chavez.
The origins of the name Ronald are connected to a Norse word which means advisor and ruler. He was never one to seek the limelight but led in his own way and sought out for his wisdom, measured view and dependability. His frame belied his tremendous physical strength and fitness – evident in his ability to work for hours around the yard and stare down any snowstorm to ensure his and his neighbors’ pathways were safe and accessible. Ron’s temperate personality found its alter ego in his love of WWE Wrestling, and everybody knew not to disturb him during Monday Night Raw. His loyalty was unwavering to the Mets, Knicks, and Giants. His propensity toward fitness and physical activity extended to his children and grandchildren. Both Ronald Jr. and Jason made him immensely proud with heralded achievements in track and field – his other favorite; while granddaughter Imani Thompson is an outstanding midfielder with the Montclair State Women’s soccer team while granddaughter Rselah’s promising talent in dance earned her a scholarship at Sharon Miller School of Dance in Montclair.
Ronald, who is a nephew of the late Lady Gladys Bustamante, wife of Sir Alexander Bustamante, Jamaica’s first Prime Minister, is survived by his wife Sheryll Thompson, sons Ronald (Omnika) and Jason (Paulette) Thompson, 5 grandchildren, brother Milton Thompson, a host of family members including aunts and uncles Eric Forrest, Ivan Forrest, Stainton Forrest, Daphne Forrest, Ethlyn Forrest, George Forrest, Lucille Ellis, Enid Wilmot, and Phyllis Anderson and several adopted brothers and sisters.
After a pebble makes its fleeting splash in a still pond; quiet, soothing ripples can be seen looping across the water. In stories, poetry, and life lessons, it is not the pebble that is talked about, but the ripples and their effect. Ronald was a master of quiet impact. Never one to make a splash but felt and seen by all who crossed his path. And so it will be for generations to come as his loved ones continue to remember, emulate, and honor him.
Ronald Lloyd Thompson, who modeled and promoted peaceful living, departed to eternal peace on June 2, 2021.
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