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Dave and Jackie Thompson
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Forever Home: Dave and Jackie Thompson

June 14, 2022

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Video by Phil Weiss, BA '98, MS '17, University Television

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the tenth installment in the series, "Forever Home," which features video interviews with those who have chosen to make Macomb (and/or WIU) their home.

By Jodi Pospeschil, MA '15

MACOMB, IL – If ever there was a couple who defined selflessly giving back to the Macomb and Western Illinois University communities in a myriad of ways, it would be Dave and Jackie Thompson.

Dave received his degree from WIU in political science in 1972, and Jackie received her Board of Governors (now general studies) bachelor's degree in 1985, and her master's degree in educational administration in 1994. Jackie is the vice president emeritus of Administrative Services at WIU, retiring in 2011, and Dave spent his career as an agent with Northwestern Mutual Financial, retiring after 46 years with the company.

The couple first met when both were part of a local Young Republicans organization in the early 1970s. Their first date was a retirement party for the late Marcy Bodine, a professor emeritus from WIU's Department of Political Science. The couple dated for several years, during what they called a "crazy, fun time in Macomb." They were married in 1976, and both remember Dave's proposal as "very casual."

"We were sitting on the couch in her apartment and I said 'By the way, what do you think Jackie, do you want to get married or not,'" Dave said. "It was very simple."

After the wedding, Dave's friends and family members, some who were police officers, handcuffed him to a stop sign in Table Grove, a rural part of Fulton County.

"I was probably due that because of some of the things I'd done to other people at their weddings," Dave said. "Those were fun days."

Jackie graduated from the VIT School District in 1968, and went to Robert Morris College in Carthage, where she received an associate's degree in secretarial science. She came to WIU in 1970, starting as a secretary in Auxiliary Services and Facilities Planning. She finished her bachelor's and master's degrees while working full-time at Western.

"I think when I retired in 2011, I called it 'a pretty incredible journey,' and I think that's one of the reasons why I have so much love for Western," said Jackie. "It allowed me to complete two degrees, while I was working full-time, and it really afforded me some opportunities that when I started in 1970, I never dreamed I would have. When I became a VP in 1997, it was an amazing event for me to think that I started as a secretary, and, because of the support and mentoring and education I received, I was able to become vice president of that very University."

Dave started his education at WIU believing he wanted to be a teacher, and received a scholarship to attend classes.

"It was kind of inevitable for me to go to WIU," he said.

After student teaching, he realized it was not the career path he envisioned. It was former Macomb resident Jim Garner, also a WIU graduate, who brought him into the Northwestern Mutual Financial career fold.

Dave was a Boy Scout in his younger years and went on to become an Eagle Scout in 1963. His father served in WWII, and advised him to get a military commission if he wanted a military career. A year after his high school graduation, Dave joined the Illinois National Guard and went on active duty and attended an officer-basic course, graduating as a second lieutenant in the infantry.

He then served in Battery B, 123rd Field Artillery, based in Macomb. He eventually assumed command of the local unit for nine years.

"It was a great opportunity for me to command a Guard unit in my hometown," he said. "It just worked out well for me. Twenty-two years later I retired as a lieutenant colonel."

Pride in Service

Dave retired, after 46 years, as one of the highest level producers with Northwestern Mutual. He was number 15 in career production in the company, the day he retired.

The couple joke that Dave wasn't allowed to retire from Northwestern Mutual until he had something else to do, so they bought a small piece of property near Macomb with a cabin, many wooded areas and trails, where he spends some of his time. Since retirement, Jackie serves on the Prairie Land Conservancy board and the WIU Foundation Executive Committee, and has served as president of WIU's Alumni Council. She also enjoys playing canasta.

The couple also enjoys spending time with family and at their vacation home in the Lake of the Ozarks.

It's been nice that we can do some things more and not have to rush back because he's working," said Jackie.

Giving Back

For the Thompsons, giving back is more about filling needs they come across at WIU and in the community. Both also give of their time, serving on numerous boards of directors in Macomb and at the University. They are the definition of maintaining a Town and Gown relationship.

"I think what is unique is Dave was community, from an employment standpoint – he had his activities in MAEDCO, Rotary and the Enterprise Zone," said Jackie. "I was at the University, so we really brought those two things together. That's what helped us bridge the town and gown personally and professionally."

The couple's many donations Macomb and WIU are highlighted by projects including the new, two-acre Jackie and Dave Thompson Dog Park, inside Patton Park, and the statue of Ray "Rock" Hanson that sits outside Hanson Field.

"We decided to fund the dog park as a Christmas present to Macomb," Jackie said. "It was about the same time everything was shutting down again because of COVID and you just could feel the air going out of the community."

The donation came about as Dave was having lunch with Macomb Park District Director Rachel Lenz. The two began talking about the proposed project to increase the size and offerings of the previous facility.

"I don't think I knew how much need there was," Dave said of the dog park. "On a nice afternoon, that park is full."

While Jackie was working at Western, the couple endowed the Jackie and Dave Thompson Scholarship through payroll deduction. The $1,000 scholarship is given to an incoming freshman from the Vermont-Ipava-Table Grove (VIT) School District. After her retirement, Dave donated $25,000 to endow a second scholarship, The Dave and Jackie Thompson Scholarship, in honor of Jackie's service to the University. That scholarship, $1,000 a year for four years, is given to a graduate of Macomb High School, with preference to a dependent of a military family.

"For me it's really giving back to those who helped me…who helped both of us," said Jackie. "The first major giving we did was a scholarship, for my high school, VIT. I wanted to make sure a student from a little school like VIT would have an opportunity to come to Western."

Dave said the couple's roots in western Illinois made it easy to decide who to designate the scholarship money to.

"Macomb made it easy for me to succeed," said Dave. "I've had great experiences here."

Looking Back and Paying it Forward

A conversation over dinner with WIU Foundation Executive Officer Brad Bainter and Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations Amy Spelman, about former Leatherneck coach and athletic director Ray "Rock" Hanson, turned into a donation by the Thompsons to create a statue in Hanson's honor.

The statue was created by WIU Associate Professor of Art Duke Oursler, and was unveiled outside Hanson Field in 2017.

"We are the Leathernecks because of him," Jackie said of Hanson. "As people move on, we can't forget why we're here. That statue is still a little surreal to me. I'm really glad it's getting the respect it's getting. I wish he could look down today and see the statue. We, as a community and campus, owe a lot to him."

Other campus giving by the couple includes endowing the Col. Rock Live Mascot, to ensure WIU always has a live mascot program, WIU's annual Day of Giving, WIU Athletics, the Alumni Association, the Performing Arts Society and the Fallen Soldiers 5K run/walk.

Dave was presented with the Alumni Achievement Award in 1986, and Jackie in 2003. Dave was named Macomb's Citizen of the Year in 2006 and has served in leadership positions on numerous local boards, including president and member of the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation and a long-time member of the Macomb Rotary Club, receiving the Paul Harris award.

Jackie has received the Outstanding Community Service Award, Affirmative Action Director's Award and McDonough County United Way's Isaac and Ethel Leighty Award.

The couple said they have never regretted making Macomb their permanent home.

"I don't think we ever thought about leaving," said Jackie. "Macomb is a very wonderful community. Our family is here – it's just a natural fit for us. The one thing some people fail to realize is that because of Western, Macomb has a lot to offer. I think there are some real opportunities here."

Dave said it's the local people that make the community and the University strong.

"Macomb gives me what I'm looking for, a lot of safety, a lot of security," said Dave. "We have good schools, a good hospital; it's changing all the time. I feel comfortable here. If you're looking for that kind of atmosphere, where else am I going to go?"

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Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing