Thompson’s legacy written on walls - and hearts

IN EVERY ISSUE OF The Review we publish obituaries that summarize the life and legacy of those who have recently left us.

Those legacies may be writ large or small, but they are all writ and felt.

It’s not everyone, though, who leaves their legacy writ not only in their obituary but also large on the walls of downtown Plymouth.

That was the case though for Jerry Thompson, who died Friday and whose obituary is printed in today’s

Review.

Jerry’s legacy is there for everyone to see, in the two dozen or so Walldogs murals on walls throughout downtown Plymouth.

It was the civic-minded Thompson who was the lead dog on that effort. It was his vision, as a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, to adorn downtown Plymouth with historic murals that would make downtown more attractive and memorable for visitors and residents.

The first part of that vision to come to life was the Interurban Car 26 mural at the corner of Mill and Smith streets, followed a few years later by the Cream of Wheat mural on the side of the Plymouth Historical Society’s museum.

As Thompson himself put it, “That gave us the confidence to pursue our contact with the Walldog organization.”

That led to an unprecedented effort by the mural painters, who created more of their masterpieces for our fair city than they had anywhere else – far, far more, thanks in large part to Jerry Thompson’s vision and drive.

The result of what Thompson termed “the most significant privately organized and funded project to improve the downtown that Plymouth has ever experienced” is an attraction that draws visitors downtown while preserving the city’s past well into the future.

There’s hardly a day that goes by when you don’t see people – visitors and residents – walking through downtown with their mural map brochure walking from one wall to the next to enjoy the public art and history.

That alone would be a huge legacy for anyone to leave. But Jerry Thompson did much, much more for his adopted city where he spent more than two-thirds of his life.

His love of railroads led him to bring Wisconsin and Southern Railroad’s Santa Steam Train to Plymouth not just one year, but two years in a row. Those visits left a legacy of memories that families and individuals will hold dear and cherished forever.

It also led him to take a leading role in the effort to reactivate the Plymouth-Kohler rail line. That successful effort has preserved numerous jobs in Sheboygan Falls and promises to generate more jobs at new industries it will attract in Plymouth and Sheboygan Falls.

His interest in history led him to take a major role in the Plymouth Historical Society, including the creation of its historical museum, another great attraction in downtown Plymouth.

Thompson had other improvement projects in mind, such as for the former Plymouth Utilities building on South Milwaukee Street, but his unfortunate and too-early death has put those plans in abeyance.

But the legacy Jerry Thompson leaves behind is writ large throughout Plymouth and Sheboygan County.


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