Thor Co-Founder Thompson Dies

November 16, 2009
Filed under Trailer News

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Thor Industries’ co-founder, chairman, president and CEO, Wade F. B. Thompson, died
November 12 after a 14-year battle with five cancers. Thompson, 69, founded Thor in 1980
with Peter B. Orthwein, Thor’s current vice chairman, with the acquisition of Airstream
Inc. Thompson turned Airstream around from a $12 million annual loss immediately prior to
purchase to a $1 million profit in its first year. Thompson always said that his major
business legacy was not only helping build Thor into the leading manufacturer of recreation
vehicles and buses. Also part of that legacy was Thor’s history of never losing money.
“Even during fiscal 2009, a year of world-wide recession and a depression in the RV
industry, Thor made money,” a press release from Thor adds. From his office in New York
City, Thompson devoted his last decade to helping find a cure for cancer, most notably by
founding the Drive Against Prostate Cancer in 2000. “The Drive,” consisting of two
Airstream mobile medical vehicles, has given more than 101,000 free prostate cancer
screenings to men, particularly the under-served and veterans. “About 5% of the men have an
abnormality and “The Drive” has saved about 5,000 lives due to early detection,” according
to Thor’s release. “He was a major contributor to Zero-The Project to End Prostate Cancer,
the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Cancer Research Institute and actively financed clinical
trials for melanoma and colon cancer in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.”
Wade Thompson was also deeply dedicated to the arts, historic preservation and conservation
and was the founder and chairman of the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy whose mission
is to restore and revitalize the historic Park Avenue Armory at 66th Street in Manhattan
into a world class venue for the performing and visual arts. The Armory’s
60,000-square-foot, seven-story-high Drill Hall is named in his honor. He was a major
supporter of Central Park Conservancy, the Municipal Art Society and Mystic Seaport Museum.
His other interests were tennis and collecting contemporary art. Thompson is survived by
his wife of 42 years, Angela; his children, Charles A. Y. Thompson and Amanda Jane Thompson
Riegel; his daughter-in-law, Olya A.Y. Thompson;, son-in-law Richard E. Riegel III;, and
six grandchildren. Story courtesy of RV
Business.

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