Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010

Great and loyal friend Ham Thompson leaves a legacy of love

A prince among Minnesota Democrats, and a good friend of hundreds of Minnesotans, Charles Hamilton "Ham" Thompson, 57, died prematurely on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at his home in Shorewood, Minn. Ham is survived by his sister, Jennifer Pierson of Denver, Colorado; step sisters, Susie McDowell of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Helen Waldron of Minnetonka, Minn.; step brother, John P. Snyder III of Rancho Sante Fe, California; and many nieces and nephews . As announced earlier, Ham's life will be celebrated at memorial party of family and friends today, Saturday, Oct. 2, at Woodhill County Club, 200 Woodhill Avenue in Wayzata, Minn. Memorials are encouraged to the Animal Humane Society. Ham loved and cared for animals.

A few of the many heartfelt comments from Ham's friends include:
* Extremely sad news about our dear friend, Ham. He walked as a gentle giant among us. We were all very fortunate to have him touch our lives.

* Through all the phenomenal work he did I always felt there was an untouchable part of his soul that remained a mystery. His dedication and commitment to all we hold so dear will be sorely missed.

* I was a big fan of Ham's. He was a decent guy through-and through.

In the 1970's, Ham came to work as the assistant finance director of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party He was hugely energetic, and a real and reliable friend to all. He succeeded through courtesy, attention to detail, and never giving up on a prospect or a candidate or a cause. Later, he was a key staff member of the campaigns of Joan Anderson Growe and Warren Spannaus. He was also active in the campaigns of Rudy Perpich, Hubert H. Humphrey, Walter F. Mondale, Jimmy Carter, Rick Nolan, Gerry Sikorski, Mark Dayton, and candidates for legislator, commissioner and council member too numerous to mention..

Ham was a business partner of Carole Faricy of St. Paul, Minn. He was a "doer"...not a talker...delivering services in all forms of fundraising for political, civic. non-profit, and charitable causes. Ham was was a leader in helping break down the outdated, self-defeating and pervasive sexism, racism, homophobia and class and age bias in politics and government. Though pulling his hair out getting every available dollar raising money, and losing his voice organizing conventions successfully working the state convention floor for 22 hours, Ham helped make Joan the first woman to be endorsed for the U.S. Senate in DFL history. Last year, he was a lead organizer of the 25th anniversary celebration of Joan Growe's 1984 U.S. Senate campaign. Ham's colleague on the Growe campaign, Minneapolis City Council Member Scott Benson, will speak of Ham's political life and contributions at today's memorial.

Working every last moment to win liberal victories for change, Ham truly loved politics, political volunteers, and political candidates, especially the new candidates and the underdogs. He so loved a challenge. He believed and practiced charity, hard work and truthfulness. Ham told you what you needed to hear to succeed in your campaign or cause even if his report or advice disagreed with your pre-conceptions. He was a staunch opponent of conventional wisdom. He was a perfectionist in good manners and courtesies. His invitations and thank you notes to friends were personal and handwritten. He preferred long and loving phone calls and personal visits to cold computer emails. Like many of us, he experienced some serious and lasting pain and loss but rarely spoke of it. He never dwelled on what a person may be doing wrong. He focused on setting and sharing better ways of doing things (even on the golf course).

Ham loved people. He was always ready to help on a personal or political need. Actual and timely help. Just visiting with Ham was a big boost of cheer. His friends and clients turned to him for ideas, names, techniques, follow-through, and solid results and accomplishments He was practical. He would tend bar at your event and would go far out of his way to pick-up and drive disabled friends to parties and meetings. And, preferring and practicing love over hate, Ham came over time to be strongly disillusioned with negative politicians and negative campaigning, and to prefer working on social and charitable causes.

To so many of us who had the honor of knowing and the privilege of working with Ham, we will always remember his kind and gentle nature and thorough dedication to his family and friends. It is very painful for Ham's family and friends to lose Ham so suddenly and at such an early age. But we are comforted and sustained by memories of Ham's cheerfulness, staunch liberalism, and great personal loyalty. Ham Thompson set out to make a positive difference in this world and he so clearly succeeded. God bless you and keep you, Ham. As Mondale said of Humphrey, you have taught me/us how to love. Bob Meek, 10.02.2010###

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