On a cold winter day, in Tuscaloosa Alabama, just weeks before Christmas 1923, 21 year old Officer Kenneth Thompson was working patrol, when he spotted a potential stolen vehicle near the local high school. As he approached the vehicle to investigate, he observed 2 subjects sitting inside the vehicle. It is believed that as he began speaking to them, he became more suspicious of their activity, and asked them to turn off the vehicle's engine. The driver failed to do so, and as Thompson reached inside to turn off the ignition, the suspect bit his arm. A fight and subsequent foot pursuit ensued, and at some point Thompson was shot. It is believed that Thompson continued to pursue the suspects on foot, until he succumbed to his injuries. Officer Thompson’s body was found near the football field of the local high school.
Later that day a 3 year old boy and his teenage mother got a knock at the door from the local police chief, informing them that the man who was their husband and father had been killed in the line of duty. That young boy was named Starr Kenneth Thompson, and he would go on to live a life worth noting, all without ever knowing his father, and from that point on, rarely seeing his mother. This is his story, and the chance encounter he had with another young boy and his dad, 91 years later…
Part 1 –
Shortly after receiving news of her husband’s death, Starr’s young mother Beulah was forced to move across state to find work, while Starr was to remain home and be raised by his grandparents. Starr would see her for a few weeks each year. As Starr grew older, he, like many of this generation were forced to work at a young age, in order to help provide for his family. His days were long, between school and work, but he, like so many others managed to find a way to get it all done. As he became a teenager, his first love quickly became flying, and he spent as much time as he could around local pilots, learning all that he could. Naturally when WWII began, he immediately gravitated to this branch of service. After surviving WWII and Korea, he started a family and eventually moved out west to Southern California and became a pilot for the flying tigers. And while his life to this point is certainly more worthy than this paragraph can provide, we will examine his life more in depth in future articles. For now, we will skip ahead to 2017, and take a look at a moment of fate, which could only have been derived from central casting itself.
In February 2017, Dan Borgstrom took his 6 yr old son Chase to their weekly “dad lunch”, at a local Chinese restaurant. As they sat talking, Dan noticed an elderly man, sitting alone across the restaurant, who was continually glancing over at them. As they paid the bill and made their way out of the restaurant, they passed the elderly gentleman, who stopped Chase and said “wow young man, I sure like your red hair, and I bet the girls will too!”. The young boy smiled, said “thank you” and continued walking, while Dan stopped and introduced himself. The man smiled back and stated proudly, “my name is Starr Thompson, and you look like a guy who appreciates a good joke”. Dan smiled, nodded and sat down to listen. 45 minutes later they still sat, while Starr shared jokes, stories, and life lessons. This was the beginning of an unlikely friendship, which would grow to become an incredible experience, for each them, as well as the world, via social media. Look for part two of this special story, of two men nearly 55 years apart, who found each other at a time when they both needed each other most.