A few members of the Bob and Kate Nelson Thompson Family gathered Sunday to celebrate its 75th reunion.
Usually, almost 300-400 family members come together annually, but COVID-19 restricted participation in this Diamond Jubilee year. Fifteen Thompsons of the Reunion Committee gathered together, yet sat apart, to recognize and reminisce about past reunions that culminated in this special year.
Of the 12 original Thompson children of Bob and Kate Nelson, eight bore offsprings. It is believed that the descendants met in Durham on the second Sunday in June in 1945 to support a brother who was ill, and the family called that gathering the first Thompson Family Reunion. Though there are other stories of how the reunion began, all agree that the reunion began in 1945.
Each of the eight family lines has an assigned color, and each reunion traditionally begins with a colorful roll call of the eight lines. Food is everywhere, and people are talking, laughing, and looking back.
On this 75th reunion, the Thompsons had planned a Western Caribbean Cruise. None of these activities took place. But these fifteen family representatives gathered without the fan-fare and without food. There was laughter, talking and remembering past reunions that were most memorable. The group talked about their family’s 2020 birthday calendar, which not only shows the days, weeks and months, but also dedicates a page on each of the original twelve children.
The family also reminisced about the late Joe and Odell Thompson, local musical heroes. In recognition of their contribution to string band music. the City of Mebane has erected a statue of them in the new park on U.S. 70, just west of the city. A celebration in their honor was planned for early April, but was postponed because of the pandemic.
But nonetheless, the special reunion was commemorated, and next year, it will return to Mebane on the way to its centennial.