We celebrate the long, large and fruitful life of the Reverend Branan Greene Thompson Jr., who passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, at the age of 83.
A longtime resident of Roanoke, Virginia, he was born in Milledgeville, Georgia, on April 20, 1937. He grew up in the small town of Good Hope and went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree from Mercer University and the Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, with continued studies at Southern Seminary in Louisville and Union Seminary in New York City.
Before coming to Roanoke, he served as minister at both Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, and churches in the South Boston, Virginia, area. He came to the Roanoke area in 1968 to assume the pastorate of Colonial Avenue Baptist Church. His distinguished ministry there lasted 30 years until his retirement in 1997. He went on to serve as a minister at Windsor Hills United Methodist Church for the next 20 years before retiring once again.
Pastor Thompson was known and loved by both congregations as a thoughtful and engaging pastor and a trusted and sympathetic counselor. Throughout his ministry and throughout his retirement, he was a familiar visitor to homes and hospitals, the officiant at countless weddings and funerals, and a cherished friend to many in the Roanoke Valley.
He was an active and constructive leader in the civic and religious life of the greater Roanoke Valley, having served in numerous leadership roles that included president of the Roanoke Valley Ministers Conference; chair of the Philo Club; president of PTA; board member of Planned Parenthood; the Roanoke Valley Free Clinic and the Roanoke Valley Symphony Orchestra; and member of the institutional review boards of Lewis-Gale and Roanoke Memorial hospitals.
Among his life’s greatest passions were performing magic, creating music and travel. He performed hundreds of magic and musical performances over the years and was the composer of “Virginia’s My Home,” one of the finalists for the new state song of Virginia. He and his family traveled extensively each fall for many decades. Perhaps his greatest love, however, was fishing. From his earliest memories as a boy in rural Georgia, he would never turn down the opportunity to go fishing, most especially on his beloved Windsor Lake.
The Rev. Thompson was predeceased by his beloved wife, Gay Frith Thompson, a native of Rocky Mount, Virginia, and he is survived by his sons, John D. Thompson of New York City, and Scott B. Thompson of Portland, Maine, and Scott’s partner, James Duplissie; and his sister, Dixie Alexander of Atlanta and her family.
Funeral services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at Windsor Hills United Methodist Church. We are encouraging people to join the service virtually as limited seating will be made available.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to visit with the family from 4 until 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at Oakey’s South Chapel.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Branan G. and Gay F. Thompson Scholarship Fund at Windsor Hills United Methodist Church, https://windsorhillsumc.org/online-giving.
Arrangements entrusted to Oakey's Funeral Service – South Chapel, Roanoke, Virginia, telephone 540-989-3131. Online condolences may be shared with the family by visiting www.oakeys.com.