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Published: Friday, 7/13/2007

CEO started as salesman, climbed to top

TEMPERANCE - George "Jack" Thompson, 77, a pharmaceutical sales executive with a passion for independent pharmacies, died of prostate cancer Monday in his Bedford Township home.

Mr. Thompson, a Toledo native and 1947 graduate of Woodward High School, worked his way up in the pharmaceutical business. He started with Walding, Kinnan, and Marvin as a substitute pharmaceutical salesman, then became salesman, sales manager, and finally head of what became AmeriSource Corp.

Mr. Thompson retired in 1988 as chief executive officer and general manager after 30 years with the company.

The company and its predecessors had been in Toledo for about 125 years before closing in 2003.

"When they first gave him a route, it was the worst route they had and he used to worry about it," said his wife, Ruth, whom he married Oct. 18, 1950.

But with his love for the business and easy relationships with pharmacists, her husband excelled, Mrs. Thompson said.

"He was the first one that sold over $1 million in a year for the business," she said.

All salesmen later achieved that goal with his support, Mrs. Thompson said.

He liked working with small pharmacies, especially the independent and family-owned businesses, said his youngest daughter, Mary Rose Kulczak.

"He was a strong man who had high moral standards and really expected that accountability of others as well - even on the job," she said.

He enjoyed working with people who valued the pharmacist-patient relationship, she said.

Mr. Thompson was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving during the Korean War as a military policeman.

He married Ruth Alverman while on leave when she was 17 and he was 21. Both had grown up in the same neighborhood in Toledo's north end.

The couple lived in England for the remainder of Mr. Thompson's tour and were stationed in Tucson for a short time after.

They moved back to the Toledo area to be with family and had lived in their current home since 1966, she said.

A large, close family was important to Mr. Thompson. He and his wife had seven children and more than 20 grandchildren.

"There were always children being born in the family," said Ms. Kulczak, who became an aunt at the age of 7.

"There are always babies around and my dad always loved that."

During his years with the pharmaceutical business, Mr. Thompson and his wife traveled to places such as Switzerland and Italy, and went on cruises.

So in retirement, Mr. Thompson chose to stay at home and spend time with his loved ones, Mrs. Thompson said.

Mr. Thompson was an active member of St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Temperance and studied to become a Bethel Bible teacher, which he enjoyed, his wife said.

He also liked sports, playing basketball when he was younger and following the Detroit Tigers.

Surviving are his wife, Ruth; sons, David Alverman, George Thompson, and Timothy Thompson; daughters, Tina Manore, Susan Manore, Jennifer Ondrus, and Mary Rose Kulczak; 21 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. today at St. Luke's Lutheran Church. The Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance, is handling arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to St. Luke's Lutheran Church or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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