Mary Stigler Thompson
May 16, 1923 –
January 13, 2024
Mary Stigler Thompson, who for nearly eight decades lived on the Holmes County farm named Pluto, where she and her beloved late husband Robert Lee Thompson Sr. raised their children, crops and catfish, died peacefully at her home near Thornton on Saturday, January 13, 2024. She was 100.
She was the family’s cherished constant. Relatives and friends across the Delta and in Yazoo City, where she grew up and graduated from high school, knew her for her brilliant smile, optimism, wit, kindness and industrious nature.
Services were held on Thursday, January 18 at 2:30 p.m. at First Methodist Church of Yazoo City, with visitation preceding the service at 1 p.m. Burial follow ed in Glenwood Cemetery. The Rev. Lauren Porter and the Rev. Rusty Keen officiated.
Mrs. Thompson lived in the Bee Lake Community of Holmes County, first at the farm known as Maryland and then at Pluto, since she and her husband moved there shortly after the end of World War II. She was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church of Yazoo City, Thornton United Methodist Church and the Tchula Garden Club, as well as a Master Gardener and a Master Flower Show Judge.
The daughter of Louis and Laurie Lightcap Stigler of Yazoo City, Mary Stribling Stigler was born on the Rialto farm on May 16, 1923. She attended Main Street School and Yazoo City High School, where she was a majorette in the band – and where she met Robert Lee “Bobby” Thompson of Tchula. She graduated in 1941 and that fall went to Mississippi State College for Women, where she studied education and was a member of “The Spectator” newspaper staff and the Lockheart social club.
Mr. Thompson enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. The two became engaged the next year. They were married at First Methodist of Yazoo City on Aug. 19, 1943, while he was on leave. As her husband piloted B-24 Liberator bombers from Great Britain over Germany, the young Mrs. Thompson – staying with her parents in Yazoo City – gave birth to their first child, Robert Lee Thompson Jr., in the hospital in Vicksburg. With war’s end, the couple moved to the Bee Lake Community, and Mr. Thompson began to manage the family farming and cotton ginning operations.
Their family grew. Over the next decade or so, the Thompsons celebrated the births of daughters Laurie and Susan and sons William and Louis. Mrs. Thompson was ever on the move, rearing the children and putting her mind, her talents and her hands to all manner of endeavor – painting, sewing, knitting, gardening, cooking, volunteering. For years during the cotton harvest, Mrs. Thompson kept the books at the Thornton Gin, entering bale weights and cottonseed weights and writing seed tickets.
She reveled in hosting family gatherings in the summer and at Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as dinner parties for friends. On most occasions and during annual vacations to Dauphin Island, Ala., Mrs. Thompson had her Kodak Brownie camera at the ready for snapshots or filmed the goings-on with an 8 mm camera. She turned the lens on farming and ginning operations too, and captured the 1951 crop season from start to finish.
Painting was a passion. She worked in acrylics, pastels and watercolors, with flowers, scenes on Pluto, landscapes and her parents’ historic home in Yazoo City among her subjects. She greatly enjoyed the Bridge Club she shared with close friends in town, their sessions rotating among one another’s homes.
As an active member and secretary-treasurer of Thornton United Methodist Church, Mrs. Thompson attended to upkeep of the grounds and the small cemetery, as well as depositing Sunday collections and other business. With the Tchula Garden Club, she and other members assembled and published the club’s 1978 “Cook Book,” a collection that included all recipes from the group’s original 1958 edition. After she and several Garden Club members completed the Master Gardener Program at the Mississippi State University Extension Service, she and others worked to create the Alligator Slough Nature Trail in the Hillside National Wildlife Refuge.
A delightful and engaging storyteller, she told tales passed down through generations of Striblings, Lightcaps, Stiglers, Thompsons, Peasters and Fooses, as well as stories of farming on Pluto. She was known for her muscadine jelly and muscadine wine, the many pounds of slaw she made for David Coleman’s annual duck suppers, and for her hot chicken salad, stuffed crab, spaghetti, homemade mayonnaise, orange sponge, pound cake and – most of all – scrumptious black bottom pie.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Lee Thompson Sr., son, Robert Lee Thompson Jr., and son-in-law, Henry Leslie Metcalfe.
She is survived by her daughters, Laurie Thompson Metcalfe of Madison, and Susan Thompson Champlin (Byron) of Concord, N.H.; sons, William Michael Thompson (Susan) of Madison, and Louis Stigler Thompson (Cathy) of Pluto; grandchildren, Olivia Thompson Walker (David) of Madison, Robert Lee Thompson III (Kelley) of Vaughan, Bryan Keith Thompson (Audrey) of Gluckstadt, John Robert Thompson of Lexington, Leslie Metcalfe Robbins (Justin) of Dickson, Tenn., Sarah Wynne Metcalfe Gentry (Michael) of Madison, Emma Champlin (Damian Kennard) and Madeline Champlin, both of Concord, N.H., William Michael Thompson II (Whitney) of Flora, Julia Thompson Massey (Michael) of Madison, Carmen Thompson of Philadelphia, Pa., and Cadi Thompson Appleby (Will) of Madison; and 15 great-grandchildren. She also is survived by a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, a great-great-niece and cousins.
The family expresses deep appreciation to her caregivers and their hearts, hands and skills: Helen Malone and the dedicated corps of Audrey Jackson’s Southern Homecare – Mavis Hudson, JoAnn Pigg, Lisa Smith, Leslie Lampkin, Jessica Bennett, Rosetta Coker and Dominique Hayes. Sincere gratitude is extended as well to the “Loaves and Fishes” ladies of First Methodist Church.
Pallbearers were Lee Thompson, Justin Robbins, Michael Gentry, Byron Champlin, Michael Thompson and Will Appleby.
Memorials may be made to the “Loaves and Fishes” ministry of First Methodist Church, 203 N. Washington St., Yazoo City, MS 39194.
Mary Stigler Thompson