Students and faculty at Riverview High School will pay tribute tonight during the high school’s homecoming game to the school’s first principal, who died Wednesday, Oct. 3.
During tonight’s matchup between Riverview and East Bay High School in J. Vince Thompson Stadium, current Principal Bob Heilmann will honor former Principal James Vincent Thompson who died at the age of 73.
In addition, students plan to circulate a petition to rename the high school in his honor.
Thompson, a resident of Sundance, was appointed to head the high school Jan. 20, 1998, after spending a number of years as principal of East Bay High School. The new Riverview High School opened that fall on the southwest corner of Boyette and Balm-Riverview roads.
He spent only two years at the high school before retiring in 2000. But, in that time, he is credited with establishing an active Parent-Student-Teacher Association, an award-winning drama department, championship sports teams and a strong commitment to community service by the student body.
During his tenure as a principal, he was twice selected as Senior High School Principal of the year by the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association.
Upon retirement, the Riverview High School football stadium was named after him.
He went on to work as an adjunct professor for the University of Tampa as well as an educational consultant, training other principals and helping schools with parent/teacher issues.
Born and raised in Tarpon Springs, Thompson graduated from Tarpon Springs High School and then earned a football scholarship to Florida State University. However, he dropped out after a semester and went to work in the Tampa shipyards. He eventually returned to school, earning a bachelor of science degree from the University of Tampa, an education degree from the University of South Florida and a master's degree in education from Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.
He began his teaching career at Robinson High School in Tampa and then held three positions as a vice principal before he was appointed principal of East Bay High School.
Thompson was married to his wife, Judy for 52 years. The couple have three children and two grandchildren.
Thompson was an active member of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Sun City Center.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son Michael (Carlos), his daughters, Niki (Mark), and Shelby (Mike), and his grandchildren, Vince and Kelly.
A memorial service will be held at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 1015 Del Webb E., Sun City Center, Sunday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 1015 Del Webb E. Sun City Center, FL 33573.
Zipperer's Funeral Home in Ruskin is in charge of arrangements.