Clete (Cletus) Jerome Thompson


Mesa, AZ - a giant of a man and a hero to his family, who still left this world too early at age 93, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving family on Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. He walked gentle on this earth and left soft footprints, a most kind and gentle man. We will forever miss the twinkle in your eye, your beautiful smile, your beautiful whistling, that special wink, and your bear hugs.


Clete was born in Dell Rapids, SD, on April 19, 1916 to Louise and Martin Thompson. Clete's father died when he was young and he left school to work in the Black Hills CCC camp, helping support his mother and 4 siblings. On March 16, 1946, Clete married the love of his life, Lila Gray. This beautiful union lasted for 63 years and they had a wonderful and adventurous life. They raised their family in Sioux Falls and for 23 years, prior to retiring early to the Black Hills, owned and managed a well known and respected used car business, Clete's Motor Sales, on West 12th St., and had a very loyal customer base. After many wonderful retirement years spent in the Black Hills in their home by Hill City, in 1983, a permanent move was made to Palm Gardens, Mesa Arizona. But his heart and soul remained in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He is survived by his beloved and devoted wife Lila, Mesa, AZ, devoted and cherished children - daughter Mary Thompson Ebel (Bob) son Gene Thompson (Salli) California, cherished grand-daughter Jolynn Clark (Steve) great-grandchildren Amber Wright, James Wright, Kaeli Clark, and great-great granddaughter Sophia Wright, all of Rapid City, sister Arlyce Nichols, Perry, Iowa, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends. He was preceded in death by his Mother and Father and 3 of his siblings, many other family members, and many close friends. During the last few weeks of his life, Americare Hospice was of great comfort and support to Lila and family in helping to care for Clete. Clete donated his body to Science Care in Phoenix, to benefit the lives of others. A celebration of life was held at home with family members present. A memorial photo slide show celebrating his life can be seen below.