Ed Thompson, Brother Of Ex-Governor, Dies

Former Tomah Mayor Died At His Home

TOMAH, Wis. - Allan Edward Thompson, 66, the younger brother of former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, has died at his home in Tomah.

Thompson died at 1:23 a.m. Saturday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Thompson was in the middle of his state Senate campaign when he announced in September 2010 that he had been diagnosed.

Family spokesman Brian Schimming said he died with his older brother and other family around him.

"I loved Ed and I will miss him," Tommy Thompson said. "The past months have been both extremely difficult and special to me in terms of the time and moments we spent together."

Thompson is survived by his children Ann Marie, Kristin Beth, Allan Edward "Chip", and Joshua. He also leaves behind his brothers Art, Tommy, and his sister Juliann Martin, in addition to his long-time friend Josie Swenson. Thompson also has eight grandchildren.

"My family and I are not alone in our loss because Ed touched and belonged to so many," Tommy Thompson said in a statement. "I have been deeply moved by the thoughts and prayers of Ed's friends and the important part they played in his remarkable life. And in that spirit, the people of Tomah, Elroy, and places in between became his family as well."

Ed Thompson left his own political legacy, despite his brother's impressive shadow and his own indifference to politics earlier in his life.

"I used to help Tommy occasionally," he once said. "I'd always start late and quit early."

But in 2000, after successfully fighting charges for having poker machines in his Tee Pee Supper Club, Thompson won his first election as mayor of Tomah.

"I just felt at that time if I was ever going to make a difference or ever, I'd have to get involved in it," he said.

But his famous brother didn't necessarily help; in fact, when he ran for governor as a Libertarian in 2002, Tommy Thompson endorsed then-incumbent Scott McCallum.

"Scott McCallum has the vision, he has the strength of character, and the passion and experience to do what is right," Tommy Thompson stated at a McCallum campaign stop in 2002.

But after his brother's passing, Tommy Thompson spoke of Ed very highly.

"That's one thing about Eddie, he never followed in anybody's footsteps, he was very unique," the former governor said. "He had different beliefs than I did on a lot of subjects. We still loved each other tremendously."

"He believed that everybody should be treated fairly," Tommy Thompson continued, "and so as a result of that he decided that he had to get into politics, and I would have to tell you that I think he was as good if not better politician than I was."

"It would be impossible not to be influenced by my brother," the elder Thompson said. "He was that kind of a guy. Younger, but had a tremendous impact on me as he did a lot of people."

Ed Thompson was elected twice as Tomah's mayor, but he most recently ran for the 31st District State Senate seat. Thompson set a third-party record when he earned 11 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial race in 2002, but his most recent campaign was as a Republican. He lost to incumbent Democrat Kathleen Vinehout in November's election.

"Ed was a cheerleader for Tomah. He was a fierce competitor in politics and in business," Vinehout said in a statement. "We will all miss his independence and forthrightness, something Wisconsin politics could use now. My thoughts and prayers are with Ed's family."

Thompson was born on Christmas Day in 1944 in Elroy. For more than 20 years he owned the Tee Pee Supper Club in downtown Tomah.

"People loved him," said Lance Heilman, the Tee Pee's bar manager. "He'd pop in and out (of the restaurant) all the time, you never knew when he was going to come in; he'd come in and shake hands with people, just like a politician would."

After being unemployed in the early 1990s, Thompson started a Thanksgiving dinner for Tomah-area families once the Tee Pee restaurant started to grow.

"It does wonders for the community, it brings everyone together. There's all kinds of people from all over," said Chip Thompson, Ed's son. "He said, 'I don't think anybody should deserve to spend Thanksgiving alone.'"

Funeral services will be held in Tomah at the Torkelson Funeral Home from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Tomah with a memorial to follow at the Tee Pee Supper Club.

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