Flashes of Beverly Thompson’s buoyant personality were evident throughout the room. Collages of photographs captured her smile and life’s milestones. The logo of her beloved baseball team, fashioned with colorful carnations, held a prominent spot in the parlor. And naturally, the Howard Mohr Community Center, where Thompson served as director for the last decade, is where mourners gathered to share stories and solace.
Thompson, 65, died in her sleep Aug. 18. Her funeral Friday was attended by more than 120 family members, friends and colleagues suddenly burdened with an unexpected grief.
“Bev had a wonderful gift in that she liked to be happy and she liked to make you happy,” Deacon Joel Chrastka said during a short service at the Zimmerman-Harnett Funeral Home.
Working at the community center practically licensed Thompson to show people a good time, and those who shared the opportunity with her said she relished those moments. She dared people to hop on a bus without knowing where it might take them. She organized sleepovers and festivals for children, provided social outlets for the elderly and maintained a food pantry for the needy. Health services, educational seminars and, as always, fun, were mainstays of Thompson’s tenure at the community center.
Those touched by Thompson’s work and outgoing nature crossed several demographics as young and old came to pay their respects. In reflecting on her life, the deacon asked attendees to continue Thompson’s legacy of friendship and trust. She had no enemies, he said, and was always generous with her time.
An estimated 600 visitors offered condolences to the family Thursday during a scheduled visitation at the funeral home.
Kevin Harnett, the director of Thompson’s services and a longtime acquaintance, praised her vision of togetherness and community. Thompson’s efforts within Forest Park were almost singularly focused on bringing neighbors together, he said, and she motivated others to do the same.
“I’m going to miss her,” Harnett said.