Coon Rapids woman gives back to veterans

Linda Thompson, whose involvement with the Coon Rapids American Legion Auxiliary stretches back 33 years, has been state department president this past year.

Linda Thompson (center) of the Coon Rapids American Legion Auxiliary, who is completing her year as American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota president, was honored at the Coon Rapids American  Legion Saturday with a testimonial. She is pictured with Amelia Tesdahl (left), honorary junior department president from St. Francis, and Chuck Kruger, state American Legion commander from Byron.

Linda Thompson (center) of the Coon Rapids American Legion Auxiliary, who is completing her year as American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota president, was honored at the Coon Rapids American Legion Saturday with a testimonial. She is pictured with Amelia Tesdahl (left), honorary junior department president from St. Francis, and Chuck Kruger, state American Legion commander from Byron.

Thompson was honored for her work with a testimonial hosted by the Coon Rapids American Legion and Auxiliary Saturday at the post home.

While Thompson’s term as department president ends at the state Legion and Auxiliary convention at Jackpot Junction, Morton, July 21, her work with the auxiliary will continue.

Last week she was elected treasurer of the Coon Rapids American Legion for the 2012-2013 year and she has also been appointed to a national American Legion Auxiliary committee.

It was at the urging of the Walter Knudsen, who was a longtime chaplain of the Coon Rapids American Legion, that Thompson and her late husband, Jerry, joined the Coon Rapids American Legion and its Auxiliary, respectively she said.

“We were impressed by the wonderful programs for veterans, children and youth,” Thompson said.

Jerry, who died in 2010, and Linda have been active member of the Legion and Auxiliary through the years at the local, district and state levels.

“It was our way to give back to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us,” Thompson said.

Thompson has been Coon Rapids American Legion Auxiliary president twice – 1988-89 and 1994-95 – and is a honorary life member of the unit.

At the district level, Thompson has served on many committees as well as first and second vice president and then as District 10 president in 1997-98.

Since 1994-95 she has held various positions with the state department, except for a couple of years, and was elected second vice president for the 2009-2010 year.

Her election to second vice president was the only time she had to campaign against opposition for office, according to Thompson.

That is what usually happens, Thompson said.

“Once you have been elected second vice president, you are on the path to department president,” she said.

Indeed, Thompson was elected first vice president in 2010-2011 and president for 2011-2012, both times unopposed.

Thompson’s theme as president has been “Veterans… The Wind Beneath Our Wings.”

And she has had two major projects.

• Purchase of a six-passenger golf cart to transport veterans between buildings and the parking lot at St. Cloud Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center.

• Purchase of two television sets and two Blue-Ray DVD players, one each for two patient resource centers in the oncology department at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

“We raised $17,000 from posts and auxiliary units around the state for these projects,” Thompson said.

The golf cart has been ordered and the money for the TVs and Blue Ray DVDs players will be presented at the department convention July 21, she said.

Thompson has enjoyed her year as department president.

“Everything has been wonderful,” Thompson said.

But it has meant a lot of traveling all over the state, according to Thompson.

In her role as president, she has been the public relations person for the state American Legion Auxiliary, Thompson said.

Thompson will miss being state president, she said.

“There will be some melancholy,” Thompson said.

“But I’m anxious to see the new regime at work.”

While she will continue her work as an officer with the Coon Rapids American Legion Auxiliary and as national northwest division community service chairperson, which will mean some traveling to national meetings, she has no plans to run for national office, according to Thompson.

“But you can never say never,” Thompson said.

However, she will now be able to spend more time being a grandmother to her six grandchildren – Miranda, Kevin, Allison, Quentin, Devin and Erik.

Her late husband, Jerry, was a Vietnam-era Army veteran and their three sons, Korry, Calvin and Kirk, are all veterans, too, in the Army, Marines and Navy, respectively.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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