Inspired by the care he received during his three-year battle with bladder cancer, James Cleo Thompson Jr. has bequeathed $100,000 to Southwestern Medical Foundation to establish a fund for research into the deadly disease and to honor the physician whose skill and compassion he credited with prolonging his life. He died in 2010 at age 80.

The gift will create the James Cleo Thompson Bladder Cancer Research Fund and will support the work of Dr. Ganesh Raj, associate professor of urology at UT Southwestern.

“Jimmie and I were so touched by the sincere, expert care he received during his illness,” said Dorothy Thompson, Mr. Thompson’s wife of 58 years. “We both had great confidence and faith in Dr. Raj and his team and were incredibly grateful for the kindness that was shown to both of us. My husband wanted to do whatever he could to prevent others from suffering with the disease, and he hoped this gift would aid Dr. Raj in his quest to knock out bladder cancer.”

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson met as students at Southern Methodist University. After graduating in 1953 – he with a degree in engineering and geology and she with a degree in education – Mr. Thompson went to work in Crane, where he and his father acquired three small, rundown West Texas oil leases. The pair soon formed the Thompson Petroleum Corp., which earned them a reputation as two of the most successful independent oil and gas producers in the country, with operations in West Texas and New Mexico. Well-respected for his knowledge and enthusiasm for the oil business, Mr. Thompson earned numerous awards and honors, including the Chief Roughneck Award in 2001, widely recognized as one of the industry’s highest honors. In 2005 the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers named him “A Dallas Oil Legend.”

In 1991 he received an honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from Howard Payne University. He also was named a Distinguished Alumnus by SMU and Highland Park High School. The SMU Dedman School of Law named him an Honorary Alumnus in 2002.

He served numerous civic and professional organizations including the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, where he was longtime chairman; the Dallas Petroleum Club; and Highland Park United Methodist Church. Mr. Thompson also served on the boards of the SMU Cox Maguire Energy Institute and the Dedman School of Law. He was a director for many years at Northpark National Bank, director emeritus at Texas Capital Bank, and for 31 years chairman of Crockett National Bank. In his later years, Mr. Thompson entered the cattle and ranching business and spent much of his time in philanthropic pursuits.

“Jimmie Thompson was a wonderful man, whom I will always remember as a great example of courage and determination,” said Dr. Raj. “His commitment to finding a cure for bladder cancer was unwavering, and he pursued this goal with the same determination and intelligence he showed in every aspect of his life. I’m so touched that he and Dorothy decided to support research in this way and am very optimistic about all that can be accomplished with their help.”

Dr. Raj joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2006. His clinical interests include optimizing clinical outcomes for patients with urologic cancers, including utilizing minimally invasive and multimodality approaches. He has received many honors, including first prize from the American Urological Association for his laboratory research on prostate cancer, and significant funding from the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Department of Defense. His current research interests include the molecular characterization of the role of androgen receptor splice variants in advanced prostate cancer.