Gary Thompson

Obituary of Gary Dana Thompson

Gary Dana Thompson of Temple Terrace, FL, formerly of Simpsonville, SC, lost his courageous battle with Liver/Pancreatic Cancer on October 7, 2021. Gary was born June 27, 1947, in Corry, PA. He was the son of the late Harry Andrew and Anna Christensen Thompson, both of Danish descent. He was also the son-in-law of the late William DesPortes and Katie Yarborough Coleman. 

Gary started elementary school in Jacksonville, FL before moving to Columbia, SC in 1955. He was one of the fifty chosen in the 7th grade to attend University High School on the campus of the University of South Carolina, where he played on the basketball team. He was a student at the University of South Carolina prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1968. Gary then served with the 26th Marines in Vietnam before being selected for the Combined Action Program (CAP) 2-3-3 and CACO 2-3 HQ.

Upon return to the United States, Gary enrolled at Clemson University using the GI Bill, where he obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Civil Engineering. He was a member of the Eta Alpha Chapter of the Theta Chi Fraternity. He was also a member of Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering Honor Society.

In December of 1973, he began his career with the South Carolina Department of Transportation in Columbia, before transferring to Greenville as the District Traffic Engineer. After 25 years of service to the state of South Carolina, Gary briefly worked for an engineering consultant before moving to Tampa, FL to become the Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Traffic Operations Engineer. He continued to solidify his legacy making the roadways safer during a 40-year career.  Many of his colleagues knew his quote “Traffic Engineering is fighting a war you try to lose as slowly as possible”.

Gary continued to be active in the community via the Tampa Chapter 787 of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Gary enjoyed many reunions of the Combined Action Program in various locations throughout the country. 

Gary was known for his love of family, friends, fast red cars, and for his generosity. In addition to his professional life, he was an excellent carpenter, plumber, electrician, and self-taught brick mason.

Gary is survived by his wife of 49 years, Kay Coleman Thompson; two daughters, Tracy Leapard (Brian), and Amanda Glynn (Max), both of Valrico, FL; a sister, Kristine Love (Robert) of Tallahassee, FL; grandsons, Britton and Coleman Leapard, Logan and Mason Glynn of Valrico, FL; siblings in-law, Nealie & Rick Werts of Columbia, SC, and Foster & June Coleman of Lexington, SC; nieces & nephews, Kelley Love Miller (Steve) of Tallahassee, FL, Leah Love Soley (Eddie) of Kittery, ME, Jill Coleman Kunkle (Bobby), Beth Werts Hawkins (Michael), Chad Coleman (Katie), all of Lexington, SC; and Brant Werts (Kelly) of Charlotte, NC.  Gary is also survived by his chosen brother, Tom Bolick of Greenville, SC, and his long-time friend and colleague, Rochelle Garrett of Simpsonville, SC.

The Tampa VVA Chapter 787 orchestrated an inspirational "Celebration of Life" service for Gary on October 23, 2021 at Veteran's Memorial Park, at which time Gary's 1/2 scale Napoleon Cannon was fired.

Graveside services will be held at 11:00am on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at Greenlawn Memorial Park, 7100 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC 29209. To view the service via TribuCast, please click here or the following link: Visitation to immediately follow at the Holiday Inn Express, located at 7329 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC 29209. The family requests that you wear patriotic attire.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions towards an annual scholarship may be made to the Clemson University Foundation. Please direct your gift to the Gary D Thompson Memorial Holding account (X1822). Gifts may be made online at, by phone at (864) 656-5896 or by mail:

Clemson University, Annual Giving Office

PO Box 1889

Clemson, SC 29633

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Graveside Service

11:00 am
Saturday, November 13, 2021
Greenlawn Memorial Park
845 Leesburg Road
Columbia, South Carolina, United States


12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Saturday, November 13, 2021
Holiday Inn Express
7329 Garners Ferry Road
Columbia, South Carolina, United States
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