Medical Visionary: Dr. Al Thompson

Published 9:53 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

DURHAM – One of the Roanoke-Chowan region’s leading health authorities passed away Sunday.

Dr. Al Thompson died at Duke University Hospital, leaving a legacy as a man who cared for the people of Bertie and Hertford counties and who gave his all to the community he adopted as home.

Dr. Thompson served as Executive Director of Bertie County Rural Health for many years and led that agency into upgrading its facilities and its service to the community.

“Dr. Thompson was a man who believed in trying to help people,” said Norman M. Cherry Sr., who serves as Chairman of Bertie Rural Health. “I think his two passions were his family and Bertie County Rural Health. He did everything he could as often as he could to serve the community.”

Cherry said Dr. Thompson would also be remembered as a man who spoke his mind.

“He was a man that was straight forward,” Cherry said. “You may not have agreed with what he said, but you knew where he stood.”

Another board member of Bertie Rural Health is Lewiston Mayor Carl Lee. He had known Dr. Thompson since he moved to the region and remembers him as a wonderful person.

“He was an outstanding man,” Lee said. “He had the heart of the community in his own heart. He did everything he could to help with the medical part of the community.

“Dr. Thompson would do anything he could to help someone,” Lee added. “He was a fine man. He’s going to be missed by the citizens of Bertie County and, I’m sure, Hertford County.”

Shavonda Pugh serves as Chief Operating Officer of Bertie County Rural Health and worked with Dr. Thompson for more than two decades. She remembered him as an advocate for the association and the community.

“Dr. Thompson was a great advocate for Bertie County Rural Health and the community in providing quality health care to the patients of Bertie and surrounding counties,” she said. “Dr. Thompson was known for his vibrant personality and his desire to help those in need.”

Pugh said Dr. Thompson was not only a boss to those at Bertie Rural Health, but their friend.

“Dr. Thompson’s last words to the staff as a whole was ‘We have to continue to work to win as an organization’,” she said. “By that, he meant that the community is depending upon us.”

In addition to serving with Bertie County Rural Health, Dr. Thompson was a veteran of the United States Air Force and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He served with the Hertford County Department of Social Services board and the Dayton Ohio Urban League.

While he will be missed, Dr. Thompson prepared Rural Health and those at the organization to continue the service he expected of them.

“He will be missed, but he put things and people in place to make sure the agency will continue to serve,” Cherry said.

Funeral services for Dr. Thompson will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, August 5 at Bertie Middle School in Windsor. Burial will take place at the National VA Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to be sent to the American Cancer Society.