James William Thompson, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle, of Sag Harbor, died on March 24 in The Village, Florida. Mr. Thompson was born on August 17, 1941, in the Bronx, N.Y., to Marguerite (Kinnaird) and Joseph Thompson. He and his family moved to Lindenhurst, L.I., in 1959 where he met the love of his life and the woman who would become his wife of nearly 53 years, Eleanor Thompson (nee Timko). After graduating from Lindenhurst High School in 1960 he served in the Army National Guard.
Mr. Thompson joined the Suffolk County Police Department on April 15, 1963. He started in the 1st Precinct and quickly became an undercover narcotics investigator. He was promoted to sergeant in 1970 and became a detective sergeant in narcotics in 1971.
In 1974 Mr. Thompson was instrumental in forming the Long Island DEA Drug Task Force where he supervised Suffolk and Nassau detectives and DEA agents. His mission was to interdict and arrest defendants involved in smuggling drugs into the country for sale on Long Island. His tenure at the task force lead to the largest seizures of drugs and the most significant drug arrests in the history of the county.
On September 3, 1981, a Colombian trawler was intercepted off the coast of East Hampton. The task force team, lead by Mr. Thompson, resulted in the seizure of 40,000 lbs. of marijuana and the arrest of six organized crime figures, six Colombian nationals and an additional 21 defendants. They were all convicted.
In April of 1978 the president of the outlaw motorcycle gang, the Pagans, was arrested by Mr. Thompson and his team with the seizure of millions of dollars of amphetamines and an arsenal of assorted weapons.
In January of 1979, Mr. Thompson’s team seized 5 kilograms of heroin in Ronkonkoma, whereupon five Mexican nationals were arrested.
This is just a small sample of the war on drugs fought by Mr. Thompson and his team. Narcotics enforcement at this level is not without risk. In January of 1981 three defendants tried to rob an undercover detective during a buy operation. This resulted in a high-speed chase on Old Country Road with Mr. Thompson in the lead pursuit car. Twenty shots were fired and three defendants were arrested. One defendant was shot in the shoulder, but no police were injured.
“One case had a profound impact on Jim,” said the family. “In executing a search warrant in Brooklyn, two members of the team were shot. Both men made a full recovery. Jim cried that night.”
“Jim will always be remembered by the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department as a boss who cared about the men and women who worked for him, who cared about getting the job done and who always did the right thing. He left this world a better place than he found it.”
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson had three children together, James W. Thompson, Jr., who predeceased his father, Julie Ellen Haynal of Sag Harbor, and Susan Marie Peterson of East Hampton.
After retiring from the Suffolk County Police Department the family moved to Sag Harbor where they opened a family restaurant, Jim’s Anchorage, in Noyac. Mr. Thompson served as a volunteer for the Sag Harbor Ambulance and was a board member for St. Andrews School in Sag Harbor. Upon selling the restaurant, he established a successful private investigating business and served as the supervising investigator for the New York State Insurance Fraud Agency.
“Jim was always known as someone who would do anything for a friend,” said the family. “It seemed everyone knew him and loved him wherever he went. Jim’s greatest pride was his family. Nothing put a smile on his face more than seeing his kids, grandkids, nephews or extended family come to the house or see him at a reunion he orchestrated. His number one priority was always his loved ones. He enjoyed nothing more than pulling up fish onto his boat with friends or taking a family picnic on his boat out into the middle of Noyac Bay. Jim was a devoted and loving husband who demonstrated to his family what true love is.”
Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife, daughters, his daughters’ husbands, Richard Haynal and Aubrey Peterson, grandchildren James Haynal, Aubrey W. Peterson, Lucinda Haynal and Finn Peterson. Also surviving are his sister, Marie Shabatt of Lewiston, Penn., a sister-in-law, Jean Thompson of West Babylon, as well as many nephews, nieces and their children. He was predeceased by three brothers, Jospeh, John and Edward Thompson.
Visiting will be Friday, April 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Yardley & Pino Funeral Home. Funeral services will be on Saturday, April 9, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Andrews R.C. Church. Interment follows at St. Andrews Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, PO Box 2725, Sag Harbor, NY 11963.