Thompson found his dream in Shelby County

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

Hall Thompson found his dream here. Thompson, who died in October 2010, was one of the state’s most affluent businessmen, sportsmen and philanthropists.

In 1957 he acquired the North Alabama Caterpillar Tractor dealership and moved his family here. Later he incorporated as Thompson Tractor Company Inc., which became one of the most successful dealerships in the nation.

He also established Thompson Realty and developed the Shoal Creek community. His dream was to find the perfect place for a golf course. Not only did he find it here, but his friend and golf legend, Jack Nicklaus assisted him by designing the internationally acclaimed Shoal Creek golf course.

It has been rated the No. 1 golf course in Alabama for 34 consecutive years. It has hosted four national championships and been named by Golf Digest as the 14th best golf course in America and third in quality of turf grass. Golf Magazine ranked it 26th in the world.

In addition to golf, Thompson enjoyed hunting and fishing and was named as our state’s first “Distinguished Sportsman.”

Thompson gave back to his community and state by serving on multiple corporate and charitable boards: AmSouth Bank, Birmingham Kiwanis Club, BellSouth Telecommunications, Eye Foundation Hospital, Protective Life Corporation, Crippled Children’s Foundation and the Birmingham and Alabama Chambers of Commerce. He was recognized as a member of the Alabama Academy of Honor and inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame.

Thompson was married to his wife, “Miss Lucy,” for 66 years. They had two daughters, three sons and eight grandchildren.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II and was one of the most influential Republicans in our state and nation. He had a desire to see America return to the commitment of our founding fathers and created a movement to end the death tax and encourage the federal government to have a comprehensive overhaul of its tax code. He was a patriot to the core.

The PGA Champions Tour announced last year that it will move one of its major events, The Tradition, now named The Regions Tradition to Shoal Creek in May of this year.

It will bring millions of dollars to our county and state. In addition, it will bring fond memories of the man who helped build our county and state through finding his dream here.

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at bethchapman@bellsouth.net.