The Thompson family has created a legacy of giving in Dallas that continues to promote community growth and prosperity through generations of support. The late Jere Thompson, Sr. and his late wife, Peggy, always felt a deep appreciation for life and a great responsibility to care for others. Their example has inspired and guided their loved ones to follow the same path.

Meet The Thompson Family

Jere Thompson, Sr. is former CEO of Southland Corporation, the world’s largest operator, franchisor, and licensor of convenience stores carrying the 7-Eleven banner. Growing up, his greatest influences were his parents. When his father, Joe C. Thompson, Sr., came to Dallas in 1902, he was lured by the promise of opportunity and a better life for his family. In 1927, he began Southland Ice Company (later changed to Southland Corporation), an icehouse in Dallas that sold blocks of ice to refrigerate food. He later expanded the concept into the first convenience stores by adding bread, eggs, and milk. While his father traveled constantly, his mother was always there for their seven children.

Perspectives Magazine

A World of Difference – Celebrating Unparalleled Impact

Read the 2023 edition of Southwestern Medical Perspectives featuring all three of the 2022 Sprague Award honorees and their incredible impact on medical progress. Also in this issue, we celebrate 50 years of collaboration at UT Southwestern with two Nobel Laureates, Michael S. Brown, M.D., and Joseph L. Goldstein, M.D.

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Jere Thompson, Sr.’s desire to create healthier communities was inspired by a painful childhood experience. While working on his father’s ranch, he became deathly ill and underwent life-saving surgery at St. Paul Hospital. He served on the St. Paul Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees for almost 20 years, including terms as president from 1978-1980 and chairman in 1998. He and Mrs. Thompson regularly supported Foundation events including the Legends Gala and St. Paul Transplant Tee. Jere Thompson, Sr. served on UT Southwestern’s President’s Advisory Board and Patient Services Committee, Zale-Lipshy University Medical Center Inc. Board of Trustees, and UT Southwestern Health System Board of Visitors. He and Mrs. Thompson were founding members of the Friends of Zale-Lipshy University Hospital, as well as various other Friends groups. Jere Thompson, Sr. currently serves on the President’s Advisory Board and its Patient Services Committee.

Their son, Jere Thompson, Jr., is an accomplished businessman and entrepreneur who was Co-Founder and CEO of Ambit Energy, a $1.2 billion retail energy provider. Prior to Ambit, Jere Thompson, Jr. founded CapRock Fiber Network, which built, owned, and operated fiber and broadband data networks across Texas and four neighboring states. He took CapRock Communications public and was CEO until it was acquired in 2000.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jere Thompson, Jr. stepped into the role of health care leader and advocate in the 1990s, serving on the St. Paul Medical Center Foundation board for five years. There he learned about the missions of Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center. In 1999 he joined the Southwestern Medical Foundation Board of Trustees and served on its Executive Committee, Audit Committee, Risk Committee, and Nominating Committee. In 2022, he was named Chair of the Southwestern Medical Foundation Board of Trustees. He was a member of the UT Southwestern Health System Board of Visitors and the President’s Advisory Board, serving on the Corporate Partners Committee. He has been a member of the UT Southwestern President’s Research Council since 1990.

The Thompson family has supported various causes through its longtime support of Southwestern Medical Foundation, including the Heart and Lung Center at St. Paul University Hospital, William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital with the Peggy and Jere W. Thompson and Family Cardiovascular Patient Care Unit named in their honor, and Zale Lipshy Hospital. Three generations of the Thompson Family supported UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute by establishing the Thompson Family Conference Center, located between the new brain research and cancer outpatient towers.

Today, Jere Thompson Sr. is surrounded by the love of his family. Jere Thompson Jr. and his wife of 36 years, Carolyn, have seven children: Michael and his wife, Debbie; Jere Jr. And his wife, Carolyn; Kim Thorton; David and his wife, Lee; Patrick and his wife, Amy; Christopher and his wife, Susie; and Debbie Nelson and her husband, Bruce. They discuss what motivates their family to give back to the community they call home.

The Thompson Family Q&A

Q:  What have you enjoyed most about your involvement and leadership with UT Southwestern over the years?

Mr. Jere Thompson, Sr.: I enjoy being involved with Southwestern Medical Foundation which has done so much for our local community through its support of leading-edge research and excellent health care provided at UT Southwestern Medical Center. It is amazing to me the breadth of talent in the faculty UT Southwestern has attracted, including physicians, researchers, and M.D./Ph.D.’s who have made tremendous progress in advancing medicine through discovery and innovation. It is so important that the growth continues, both today and in the future.

Q:  Jere Thompson, Jr., as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, what is your vision for the future of Southwestern Medical Foundation?

Mr. Jere Thompson, Jr.:  The Foundation’s primary purpose is to support UT Southwestern through the management of our $1.2 billion endowment and through our numerous philanthropic and development activities. We feel responsible for donor cultivation and ongoing donor communications. We anticipate that UT Southwestern will undertake some new and exciting capital campaigns over the next few years, and the Foundation will play a very strong supportive role. Our unwavering goal has always been the success of UT Southwestern and its mission. That will remain the same.

Q:  Recently, the Thompson family established The Thompson Family Brain Fund with a generous $5 million gift. What motivated you to make this latest investment?

Mr. Jere Thompson, Jr.:  About five years ago I was attending a Southwestern Medical Foundation Executive Board meeting at Old Parkland. In the back of the conference room sitting impeccably dressed in his suit was Dr. Donald Seldin. He always attended our meetings, but since I had joined, he very rarely said a word. This meeting was different. Dr. Podolsky spoke about a possible brain center and what it would mean for UT Southwestern and brain research. He mapped out a plan and was hoping to get our support. When he finished, Dr. Seldin stood up and approached the table. He asked if he could say a few words and proceeded to explain why he thought the brain was the future of medical research. At age 90, for the next 10 minutes, he eloquently gave one of the most spellbinding orations I had ever heard.  As a board, we were convinced. And as a family, we agreed that this was a fantastic opportunity to give back to UT Southwestern. Dad, all of my siblings, and five members of our next generation were a part of the gift.

Q:  What advice would you give to a young person who wanted, as you have, to make this community a better place?

Mr. Jere Thompson, Jr.:  Don’t wait for the phone to ring to get involved. Find something you’re passionate about and get involved. Sometimes just showing up is all that’s necessary. My generation is always recruiting the next generation to come in, learn, and be groomed to one day take over. The Cary Council was organized a few years ago as an opportunity for young people to be exposed to the doctors and activities of UT Southwestern. There are a lot of great people on the Cary Council, and they are now joining our various committees. They welcome young people to participate.

Q:  You have done so much for the community and for UT Southwestern. Can you explain what motivates that commitment?

Mr. Jere Thompson, Jr.:  Dr. Edward Cary came to Dallas and dedicated over forty years of his life to creating Southwestern Medical College. In 1951, Dr. Donald Seldin arrived and devoted the next 65 years to training doctors and building the college. Dr. Seldin helped recruit Dr. Charles Sprague, referring to him as the “milk-drinking Texas boy.” Dr. Sprague, whom this award is named after, served as dean and the first president of UT Southwestern. Under his leadership over 19 years, the institution transformed and truly came of age. Dr. Kern Wildenthal succeeded Dr. Sprague and was a part of this institution for 42 years, initiating expansion and a building campaign that has greatly accelerated under Dr. Dan Podolsky.

My point is that we are so fortunate to benefit from what so many Dallas philanthropists gave to build this medical center. Now it’s our turn to contribute and to improve on what we inherited.  That’s what motivates all of us.

Q:  How was the value of giving back instilled in your family? How has this influenced the way you were raised and how you have raised your children?

Mr. David Thompson:  Mom and Dad led by example. A very visible example was the collection plate at church. There was always a contribution, and they often allowed us to put their money in the plate which further emphasized the act of giving. Like the church collection plate, giving of time and resources is part of the family chemistry. It shows our thanks for the many blessings we receive, and it is a way to help others directly and indirectly. Mom and Dad gave of their time and resources in many ways and directions. They found deep joy in helping The University of Texas, the Catholic Church, various national and local charities, and those who needed food and assistance. They did this without hesitation and beyond any spotlight. It was just the right thing to do with the gifts blessed upon them. As for my children, the lessons and actions we teach them thankfully follow the spirit of giving instilled by our parents.

Q:  What are your hopes and dreams for our region of the world?

Mr. Jere Thompson, Sr.:  It has been wonderful to watch UT Southwestern grow and become what it has become today for our city, Texas, the nation, and even internationally. Community support for Southwestern Medical Foundation is just magnificent. Philanthropy allows the Foundation to do many things, and each gift keeps the momentum going. UT Southwestern Medical Center is leading the way in discovery, education, and patient care, and the scientists from the O’Donnell Brain Institute are just getting started. There is much more to do, and the best is yet to come.

Q:  What does it mean to your family to be honored with The Sprague Award?

Ms. Kim Thornton:  Mom would be so proud! She would be terrified she might have to speak in public, but she would be so honored to join such a distinguished group of some of Dallas’s most outstanding philanthropists and civic leaders. Our whole family is humbled and honored. Thank you so very much.  And as Dad said, the best is yet to come!