“A Farmer only retires when his heart stops.” Farming was more than just a way for Jack to provide for his family; farming was his lifestyle. His passion and dedication to the farm never wavered even as he aged. Until his last days, Jack was always present on the farm. His hard work and dedication on the farm provided a sense of accomplishment for Jack. For anyone who knew Jack, his love for farming was evident. A love that will never go away or ever be forgotten. “It isn’t the farm that makes the farmer, it’s the love, hard work and character that makes it. “
John “Jack” Murray Thomson was born on October 21, 1941 to parents Murray and Mary (Black) Thomson in Chesley. Jack was the third born in the Thomson family, following Jim and Joanne, with Jill and Jerry following him. The Thomson family grew up on a farm outside of Chesley overlooking the Saugeen River. It was a full house, including Jack’s Gramma Thomson even living there for a while. Jack and his brother Jim could often be found riding on their two Palomino horses, Pat and Mike. The kids had lots of adventures on the farm and learned to swim down at the river, with Jack teaching his sister Jill to swim, by pushing her off a log.
The kids attended Chesley Public School until it burned down. While the new school was being built, the kids were separated into different temporary schools in churches in town. Jack later attended Chesley High School, where he met Donna Aitcheson and they dated for a couple of years. After graduating, Jack attended school in Toronto to become a licensed funeral director. In the midst of all this hustle and bustle, Jack and Donna tied the knot on a hot summer’s day on August 4, 1962.
Jack completed his apprenticeship in Oakville and the couple lived above the funeral home, where he worked. Here, they welcomed their son Jeff on December 3, 1962. Between raising a young son with Donna and caring for families as a funeral director, Jack had his hands full. They expanded their family, welcoming daughter Jayne on September 9, 1964. At this point, Jack and Donna made the decision to return to their roots and moved back to the home farm in Chesley. Through the years Jack had a mixed farming operation, raising beef cattle and pigs, later deciding to focus on cattle and cash cropping. They were very busy juggling farming, parenthood, sports, and making memories with friends and family. Over a decade later, they welcomed their youngest daughter Jackie on May 25, 1975 completing their family. Jack instilled the lesson of hard work and determination into his three children and kept the passion for farming alive.
In 2006, Jack and Donna built a new house just down “Thomson Lane”. They were able to be close to their children and grandchildren. The two enjoyed being together and watching as their family grew. They were very active parents and grandparents and were loved and admired by all. Sadly, after a hard-fought battle with Leukemia, Donna passed away on October 24, 2011. This was tough on Jack to watch someone he cared about going through such a difficult time, and a piece of his heart died when he lost Donna. He was very fortunate in July of 2013 to meet his very special friend Charlotte Roberts. The two made many wonderful memories together, and she even managed to get Jack out to the movie theatre, and watched the ‘Elvis’ movie the weekend before he passed, which he loved!
Jack was an active member of the community. He served as the co-chair on the organizing committee for building the Chesley Community Centre. He was so proud that he was able to be a part of the build, and contribute to the community in such an important way. He was also very active in the Chesley Curling Club, which included being on the board, and organizing bonspiels, like the Chesley Mixed spiel, that he and Donna ran for years. Jack was also a longtime member of the Bruce County Feeder Financing Club.
Jack was very athletic in his younger years. He was an avid ball player, pitching and playing infield for numerous teams like the Tara Gay Lea’s, Dobbinton Champs, MacDonald Hotel, Chesley Macs and later coached the Chesley Texacos. He also played hockey with the Sumpton Sunocos and Buicks to name a few. Jack was a very passionate player, and sometimes could be found watching the games from the penalty box or from outside of the ballpark. He was also very competitive on the curling ice, winning the Governor General’s title, and participating in league play and bonspiels. In his later years, when his body no longer allowed him to compete, he hung up his player’s hat and put on his #1 Sports Fan hat for his grandchildren. He made many trips to different cities to watch them play baseball and hockey. It was nothing for Jack to drive through a snowstorm to catch his grandson Jay playing hockey, even as recently as this past winter.
He loved watching the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays, and enjoyed the opportunity he had to go to the Rogers Centre to watch the Blue Jays play. Jack also liked attending the horse races and watching his son Jeff’s horse races.
If you ever played cards against Jack, you would know he didn’t like to lose. He took pleasure in playing solo, poker, and wild rummy with whoever would risk playing with him! Jack was happiest when he was winning at cards, with a Caesar in his hand. He loved any type of sweet dessert, after being spoiled with Donna’s baking for years. When visiting Gramps, his grandkids knew the first and best place to go was his freezer. There was always a tub or two of Chapman’s Ice Cream, and a couple boxes of ice cream bars, but it never lasted too long when Jack was around! He should have had shares in Chapmans! Jack loved to listen to any country music that had a “good beat” and enjoyed breaking out a move on the dance floor. Jack spent many days taking his grandchildren out on his boat at McCulloch Lake. He also enjoyed his ATV tours around the farm, and down to the ball diamond to check things out. You could catch him cruising around with his butterfly helmet. 😊
Jack loved to socialize. Whether it was stopping to chat with someone at the post office or reminiscing with old friends he would run into at his grandkids’ sports events. He was a great conversationalist. He also knew how to throw a party, and hosted several family anniversary and birthday parties, as well as his granddaughter Jodi’s wedding. Jack and Donna’s kitchen at the farmhouse saw many late-night shenanigans, hosting many parties before curling banquets, bonspiels, and Beef BBQ’s. More often than not, their friends ended up back in the kitchen for a post-party. The tradition continued when Jack and Donna moved to their new home with a bigger kitchen, to accommodate more friends and family. “Gramps” carried on the tradition with his grandchildren, offering his home to his younger grandchildren to host parties of their own. Jack most recently enjoyed hosting a terrific party for his “Black family” cousins, where they shared lots of laughs and memories. He was always an active participant in Chesley’s Julyfest, and enjoyed some beers and laughs with friends and family just a couple of weeks ago.
Jack had a sarcastic sense of humour and could always be found “poking fun” at others. He cared so much about the people around him and was a trusted confidante to many. He was also known to be a little stubborn at times, but it was only because he cared. Overall things in life, Jack was a family man. His family took precedence over anything. He would do anything and everything to see the smile on his family’s faces, and would be there in a heartbeat to help with anything that they needed- even if his helpful advice wasn’t wanted. His family was his entire world, and he got a lot of enjoyment out of his seven grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. He was proud of what he accomplished in his life, but he was most proud of his family and considered them his biggest accomplishment.
Jack suffered major cardiac issues, starting in his early forties. He underwent multiple heart surgeries and treatments. This unfortunately slowed Jack down and made it harder for him to continue at the pace he was accustomed to. Sadly, he passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 at the Hanover & District Hospital.
Loving father of Jeff (Lori) of R.R. #2 Chesley, Jayne (Brad) Tibbo and Jackie (Chris) Grieve, all of Chesley. Cherished grandfather of Jodi (Dylan) Subject, Jay (Carissa) and Julie Thomson, Tyler (Mel) and Travis (Mallory) Tibbo, Larkin and Carter Grieve, and great-grandfather of Grayson, Griffin, and Brooks. Dear brother of Jim Thomson (Shirley), Joanne (Les) Kingston, Jill (Bryan) Crawford and Jerry (Theresa) Thomson. Fondly remembered by his many family and friends. Special friend of Charlotte Roberts. Predeceased by his wife Donna, and his parents Murray and Mary (Black) Thomson.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley, on Sunday, July 17, 2022 from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 p.m. A memorial service celebrating Jack’s life will be held at the Chesley Community Centre on Monday, July 18, 2022 at 1 p.m. Inurnment in Chesley Cemetery.
As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated by the family.