Banker, family man and victims’ rights advocate Byron G. Thompson Sr. died Tuesday afternoon at his home. He was 83.
Thompson was chairman of Country Club Bank in Kansas City and helped lead its growth for 30 years in a banking career that touched seven decades.
Kansas City’s annual Amy Thompson Run for Brain Injury, which raises money for the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City, is named for his late daughter. She had suffered brain injuries at the hands of a robber in 1986.
“We are deeply grateful for his life, his vision, his leadership and especially for the extra years God allowed us following his original diagnosis of pancreatic cancer nearly eight years ago,” his son Paul Thompson, president and CEO of Country Club Bank, said in a family statement.
Thompson made his mark beyond banking, said Greg Graves, the chief executive of Burns & McDonnell. Graves said he admired Thompson and called him a friend.
“A KC hero was lost today. Byron Thompson was no less than an icon to our town....a great loss,” Graves said.
From his roots in St. Joseph, Thompson started his long banking career at City National Bank in Kansas City in 1958. He moved up as the bank grew to become United Missouri Bank of Kansas City, now UMB Bank.
He offered advice in a 1983 newspaper feature: Protect your personal integrity.
“You can buy and sell a lot of different things, but your character is something you etch in stone,” he said. “I’m not a goody-goody, and I don’t want to come off that way, but if you have that uppermost in your mind, I think it’s something you’ll look back on and live with well.”
Thompson invested in other banks along the way, including Platte Valley Bank in 1977. He became head of United Missouri’s investment banking division, retiring in early 1985 as vice chairman.
A week later, he and Country Club president Robert H. Buckner led a group that bought the $45 million bank on the Country Club Plaza. It now has $1.3 billion in assets and nearly 400 employees, and its related Capital Markets Group oversees $5.5 billion in assets.
At Country Club Bank, Thompson and Buckner courted customers with personal attention, lacking a network of branches.
“We are such a computer card society,” Thompson said during a 1990 interview. “I think there’s a starvation for recognition.”
Thompson, a father of 11, also was known for his devotion to family, which he called his greatest wealth.
Two family tragedies led Thompson to embrace victims’ rights. Amy Thompson spent five weeks in a coma after she was shot twice in the head by a robber. His daughter Patricia also ended up in a coma a few years later from injuries she suffered in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
At a victims’ rights gathering in 1989, Thompson called on community leaders to “be more zealous” in fighting crime.
“There’s not enough in place for victims’ rights,” Thompson said at the event. “I am not a politician. I don’t know what it takes to get change. But there’s a groundswell happening out there.”
Thompson is survived by his wife, Joan, and nine children.
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