Mr. William H. Thompson, of South Lyme, was recently awarded the Distinguished Volunteer Award by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association for his more than 20 years of volunteer service. Presented annually, this award recognizes an individual that has, through their volunteer efforts, provided outstanding service to the association and/or to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Bill Thompson, a 1964 graduate of the Academy and a nationally-honored athlete, became the force behind a number of fundraising initiatives in support of Coast Guard Academy Athletics. While at the Academy, Thompson was the co-captain, All American lineman, ECAC College Player of the Year and Southeastern Connecticut Athlete of the Year for the 1963 football team that was undefeated and untied for the first time in the school’s history. That team was coached by the famous Otto Graham. Thompson was also co-captain of the baseball team and recognized as All East and All New England in 1963. With a substantial personal gift in 1993, Thompson created the 1963 Football Champions endowment, which primarily supports the Academy’s football team. In 2004, Thompson created the Otto Graham Athletic Legacy Fund as a way to memorialize his coach and mentor. Use of the Otto Graham Athletic Legacy Fund was critical in funding the baseball field sprinkler system, the softball field dugouts and other special athletic program needs. In 2009 the completion of a $200,000 football field press box renovation involved combining gifts from a major donor with substantial support from the Otto Graham Athletic Legacy Fund and the 1963 Football Champions Endowment.
In addition to cultivating alumni and parent support for athletics, Thompson has been at the forefront of developing gifts from outside the normal Alumni Association network. He personally developed relationships that resulted in large and multi-year gifts from individuals, corporations and organizations such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Arnold Palmer Foundation. Thompson has also developed relationships and continuing gifts from many local businesses in the southeastern Connecticut area. In 2007 Thompson organized and implemented the annual Otto Graham Golf Classic. These tournaments have been held at premium golf courses in Connecticut and this past year at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Resort in Orlando, Fla. The 2013 Otto Graham Golf Classic will be held at the renowned Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina next June 2-3. Thompson’s efforts have helped raise over $350,000 in financial support for CGA athletic programs. In addition to the volunteer efforts described above, Thompson served a three-year term as a member of the Association’s Board of Directors during the early 1990’s and was recently selected to a new four-year term.
Upon graduation from the Academy, Thompson served on a Coast Guard weather ship, a full year tour as XO/CO on an 82’ patrol boat in Vietnam, followed by Navy Salvage Diving school certifications and then Operations Officer aboard the world’s then largest icebreaker that deployed to the Antarctica. He then became a successful business executive with several hi- tech computer companies including IBM and Stratus Computer. Thompson was inducted into the Coast Guard Academy’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987. Formally from Old Forge, PA, he now resides in South Lyme, CT, is a Real Estate Broker for ShoreViews, LLC and is a long standing member of the Black Hall Golf Club in Old Lyme, Ct.
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association provides services to and promotes fellowship among its members — alumni, parents and friends of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The organization raises funds to provide "margin of excellence" support to the Corps of Cadets, to preserve the traditions and to enhance the reputation of the Academy.