Funeral services are set for 12 noon today at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church for Thompson, 75, who died Saturday. He worked with the Corinth Urban Renewal Agency and later was the city’s director of programs, pursuing grant opportunities, for 19 years. He retired in 2004.
“He was one of the great, great men of Corinth,” said Mayor Tommy Irwin. “He loved his community.”
After graduating from Mississippi Valley State University in 1965, Thompson joined the Corinth Urban Renewal Agency at a time when the city aggressively pursued programs to curb slum areas and improve housing. He began as a relocation officer for the Highway 45 urban renewal project.
“It was a 30-acre slum clearance project,” Thompson told the Daily Corinthian in a 2004 interview. “We had about 127 structures in there that we acquired and relocated families and businesses.”
An Easom High School graduate, he later worked on two neighborhood development projects – one involving areas of Cass, Ross, Cruise and Taylor streets and one in West Corinth.
“We had a grant program that could help people remodel their homes,” he said. “It had a great impact on the city.”
Meanwhile, other agencies were looking at the human side of urban renewal and providing adult education, job training and a neighborhood youth program.
“We had people from all over the United States wanting to come look and see what the city of Corinth was doing,” said Thompson. “At one time, we had one of the best rehabilitation programs that you could find anywhere.”
His pastor at St. Mark Baptist Church, Kim Ratliff, worked with Thompson at City Hall during Ratliff’s first stint as a city employee.
“I enjoyed him as a source of history, wisdom and friendly conversation,” said Ratliff. “One of the great joys and privileges of my life was to later serve Alton in a pastoral capacity for the past 12 years. His leadership and wisdom is going to be missed both in the church and the community.”
Even in later years, Thompson continued to give. He was involved in the nonprofit Community Development, Inc., which recently disbanded and gave its remaining funds to nonprofits such as the Boys and Girls Club and Havis’ Kids. Some also went to the city for projects such as sidewalk improvements at Corinth National Cemetery and street paving.
As Thompson reflected on his career in 2004, he declared that the city had been good to him.
“And I hope in some small way I was able to do something to help improve the life of somebody,” he said.