A life of merit | PostIndependent.com

A life of merit

Submitted photo Dave Thomson compares boy scout badges with Ben Snow, center, and Jeffrey Burns.

‘Professional Boy Scouter’ Dad Thomson dies in RedstoneBy Carrie ClickPost Independent StaffDavid Thomson: husband, father, grandfather, Marine, licensed aircraft mechanic, teacher, Marble Community Church visionary – and through it all, a life-long Boy Scout. Dave “Dad” Thomson, 87, died at home Aug. 26, exactly the way he wanted to, said his wife, Shirley, 81. “He had a fall in July,” Shirley said of her husband of 62 years. “His legs wouldn’t hold him up. He ended up in the hospital and was too weak to come home.”Dave’s condition landed him in a nursing home, which “he detested,” Shirley said. Soon after he was admitted to the home, “he leaned into me and whispered, ‘How are we going to do this? How are we going to get me out this door?’ I told him, ‘You’ve got to get strong enough to come home.'”So Dave worked with physical therapists and staff to get strong enough to go home.

“He said he was coming home to go home” to die at their house on Redstone Boulevard, she said. “It was perfect.”The Thomsons’ pastor, Linda Arocha Boylan, agreed. She called Dave “Dad” ever since he walked her down the aisle at her wedding – leading many in the upper Crystal River Valley to call him “Dad,” too. “Dad said he’d led a good and full life,” said Boylan. “He said, ‘The one thing I want to ask the Lord is for Him to take me home now.’ So we all prayed for that to happen.” A ‘good and full life’Dave’s “good and full life” began in Glen Ridge, N.J., in 1917 where he started his more than 75-year affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America. “Boy Scouting was a really important part of his life,” said Shirley. “The day he was old enough to sign up, he did. He ate it all up.”After attending the first Boy Scout Jamboree in Washington, D.C., in 1937, and attaining Eagle Scout and Silver Beaver status, he met Shirley in 1940 at a young people’s group when she was a high school junior. “It was fortunate that my father was a Scout master, so I kind of accepted the fact that scouting takes up a lot of time,” Shirley said. That may be true, but not so much time that the two couldn’t find time to get married two years later.

“We fit together pretty darn nice,” said Shirley, smiling. “He was great.”A professional Boy ScouterThe young family – Dave and Shirley had three children, John, Janet and JoAnn – moved to North Carolina, Virginia and Texas where Dave served in the Marine Corps as an instructor, training aircraft mechanics during World War II. After the war, the Thomsons spent 14 months in Lima, Peru, while Dave was an inspector for Pan American. “It was a very good education in appreciating being a U.S. citizen,” Shirley said. “It would change a lot of people’s opinions if everybody could do that.” The family moved to Golden after their Peruvian stint, where Dave worked the swing shift at Gates Rubber Plant in order to finish college and get his degree.”He had an accumulation of credits, but not his degree yet,” Shirley said. “I remember driving him to Greeley to school. He’d be in the back seat studying as I drove.” In 1952, at age 35, Dave got his degree, and applied to the Boy Scouts’ Western Colorado Council in Grand Junction. “That was the beginning of his career in professional Boy Scouting,” Shirley said of Dave’s work as a Boy Scout district executive, which took him and his family to Kansas, Iowa and eventually back to Colorado.

“Essentially, he was a salesman for scouting,” said Shirley. “It was a lot of nights and weekends. Working a 40-hour week was laughable. But he was doing what he thoroughly loved.” ‘The Crystal won’Dave’s work as a professional Boy Scouter led to his introduction to the Roaring Fork Valley. Shirley said one of two scout camps the Boy Scouts ran was up the Frying Pan at Chapman Reservoir. “We used to camp here as a family,” Shirley said. When Dave got close to retiring, he and Shirley looked at property in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River valleys.”The Crystal won,” Shirley said, of their permanent move to Redstone in 1979.The couple fell in love with the architecture and quaintness of Redstone, and decided that if any of the vintage houses on Redstone Boulevard came up for sale they’d buy it. In 1972, their “dream” came true. “The ceilings were falling down. There was no plumbing and no wiring. We coyly called it a cottage, but it really was a shack,” she said with a giggle. That was then, but 32 years later, the Thomsons’ house has been lovingly restored and remodeled.

A Boy Scout alwaysLiving in Redstone, Dave served as a substitute teacher for the Roaring Fork School District, and operated a little library in town where he held story hours on Saturday mornings.Shirley and Dave also became what Marble Community Church pastor Linda Arocha Boylan called 30-year “visionaries” of the Marble Community Church.”When we first started up the church again, we had about five people,” said Boylan. “Now we have more than 60.” Dave kept volunteering for the Boy Scouts, raising money for the Western Colorado Council by phone as recently as this spring to the tune of $12,000. He also acted as a mentor to young Boy Scouts, Redstone residents Ben Snow and Jeffrey Burns earlier this summer. “Whenever he talked, it was always with a smile,” Boylan said. “He was always interested in you, and very encouraging, very honorable, kind and genuine.”He was after all, a Boy Scout, through and through. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518cclick@postindependent.com

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