Dewey Thompson, shown here playing for the So Cal Masters team at Palm Springs, CA. (click to enlarge)
[Palm Springs, CA -3/6/04] – The fastpitch community lost a great friend Saturday. Dwight “Dewey” Thompson collapsed of an apparent heart attack while playing third base during a game between his So Cal Masters team and the El Segundo Rounders, at DeMuth Park, in Palm Springs, California. Valiant efforts were made to revive him by friends and emergency personnel, but he did not regain consciousness. He passed away amongst many friends, playing the game he loved.
Known affectionately to most simply as “Dewey”, he was a familiar face in Southern California fastpitch circles, playing for Captain Dan’s and the So Cal Masters in recent years. Dewey had a bit of the Bambino in him, batting from the left side, hitting for high average and for power. He was a talented ballplayer and fierce competitor, but it was his affable nature and quick smile that many will remember him for. Win, lose or draw, he always seemed to have time to chat, and a good word to offer.
He will missed greatly by those who had the pleasure to know him.
We invite you to post your thoughts and memories of Dewey, and to share those of others, at the Forum, which will be forwarded to his family. (Click blue “Forum” hyperlink)
Additional photo of Dewey taken Saturday, March 6, 2004
So Cal ASA tribute to Dewey w/service information
DONATIONS IN LIEU OF FLOWERS:
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to assist with funeral expenses. See: So Cal ASA Men’s Fastpitch website for the details on who to make your check out to and where to send.
If you wish to send a sympathy card only, it can be sent to:
Anaheim, CA 92801
We gratefully share the eulogy delivered on March 11, 2004 by Dwayne Fowler:
Today brings us together to celebrate the life of Dewey Thompson. Although sadness fills our hearts, there is great joy in the fact that all of us have been touched by the life of Dewey. This week has been a struggle to all of us, yet every time I start to cry or ask God why? I am always brought back to the place where I realize that life has many unanswered questions and that I cannot control certain events. What I do know for sure is Dewey touched all of our hearts in a special way. When I think about Dewey several quotes come to mind:
“The greatest good you can do for another is not to just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
” A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
” A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Dewey was a friend to all. He had a special way of touching lives. He always had time say hello and never had anything negative to say. As a friend and teammate he always encouraged and found a way to make a person relax and enjoy what they were doing.
I met Dewey in 1993 and spent the last 11 years playing softball with him during the summers and weekends throughout the year. Our team, Captain Dan’s, is a close group and we are each other’s extended family. To all of us Dewey was our leader. He brought stability to our team and everyone knew Dewey was going to be there and support us both on and off the field.
When I think of Dewey I am reminded of several things: In 1995 at our first national in Salt Lake, he came up in the 7th inning down by a run and lauched a ball into the night to give us a chance to win the game.
The knuckleball that he threw on the sideline and in the city league games where he pitched. I played catch with Dewey but man I hated that knuckle ball. Dewey would just chuckle because he knew we had difficulty handling that pitch.
I also think about the times that Dewy and I chatted around the pool when we were at tournaments and we talked about family, work and many other things. He always had time for the other guy and for those moments I am so grateful. Dewey had a great heart he always helped others. Personally he gave of his resources to help my youth basketball programs even one day driving in the pouring rain to meet me, in order to provide my kids with what they needed. There were so many great times and it would take a long time to share everything but one thing I appreciated about Dewey is he had the heart of a child. This past summer Dewey went to Lambeau field – Home of the Green Bay Packers, and as the story is told as the guys arrived Dewey rolled down the window and turned his hat backwards and screamed from the top of his lungs. It was like a child on Christmas Day. He was so excited.
This is a tough day for all of us as we say goodbye to Dewey. The Captain Dan’s family want to express to Roberta and all the kids that we loved Dewey and we want to support you any way we can. I know that losing someone so special is a difficult thing but I know there is a God that loves us and will provide the resources necessary to help with the healing process. Dewey will be missed and though we won’t take the field together anymore, we will take with us his spirit and his memory wherever we go.
In closing I am reminded of a scripture in the book of 1 Timothy 4:7 that says ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. ”
Dewey fought the good fight and he will forever be remembered as a Loving husband, father, grandfather, friend and teammate. We will miss you!
And the eulogy delivered by Bruce Wilber:
We are here today to pay our respects to and give thanks for having Dwight “Dewey” Thompson in our life as family and friends for years. I will always treasure the many great times and memories, for he seemed to be special to everyone but in many different ways.
The toughest day of my life was last Saturday when I had to make the call to Roberta (his wife) that Dewey had collapse next to me on the field. It broke our hearts (softball players, friends and families) and her and her family’s hearts.
I’ve known Dewey for 26 years and saw him change and grow. Initially, we played slow pitch softball together where I stuck him with the nickname “Dewey”. He came up to me and said his name was Dwight and I told him the only Dwight I knew had the nickname of Dewey. The name stuck, so the softball people know him as Dewey and everyone else knows him as Dwight.
In those early years of playing softball and basketball 5 nights a week we visited a pizza parlor after every game usually closed it. We (his ball playing friends) didn’t realize for a couple of years how young he was and that we had been buying beer for a minor (and he never volunteered it). At first he was rather quiet but whatever we were doing he was involved, whether it was baseball, basketball or football games we were playing or going to. He absorbed it all and adapted to whatever was being done, it was one of his special qualities. He had such a pleasant, outgoing personality and seemed to intuitively read and understand other people’s character traits and make them feel comfortable. Our group of 5 or 6 guys did a lot of things together and if it wasn’t as much fun as we wanted it to be, he always helped make it fun.
If you needed help doing something such a moving, painting, etc., he was always the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. He always came in his legendary ‘brown van” than was a moving locker room. He must have had 20 different uniforms for baseball, softball, basketball, bowling shirts, etc. along with the assorted sporting goods for each. He would go into the van and come out with the necessary uniform and equipment. When that “van” finally stopped running it could have served as the original “Play It Again Sports” store.
He had a great sense of humor and was a real practical joker, especially when he was younger. I never saw him get upset if someone got him in a practical joke, he would just laugh that hearty laugh of his and vow revenge (in a good hearted way). He would always get you back but you would never know when it was going to happen and in what form, and again he would just chuckle.
A couple of quick stories.
Years ago we had a number of friends from our city fastpitch softball team who were playing on a slow pitch coed team and it was driving them crazy. The guys couldn’t chew tobacco and the women of the team were bringing fruit, cheese and cracker plates to eat during the games. About this time Dewey made a contact, through baseball, with a “Levy Garrett” tobacco salesman who gave him several cases of chewing tobacco. So he comes up with a plan to go to one of these games and put up a chewing tobacco display (always the salesman) behind the backstop, on a hill, to give away free chewing tobacco. He and I put on white shirts and ties and sat next to this display of chewing tobacco, letting some of the tobacco juice drip down (while chewing) on to our shirts for effect. All the while our friends playing were laughing hysterically and came up to get free tobacco, not letting on they knew us. The women and some of the guys on this team, except for the ones that knew us, wondered who let us in. Dewey kept a straight face throughout. When our friends told the rest of the team that they knew us they could not believe it until we showed up after the game to have a few beers with the people we knew. We all laughed about that one for years, as did the people involved.
One of his other great passions was coaching youth baseball teams which he did for close to 25 years in the Anaheim Little League (even without a child involved for most of those years). He also helped coach the varsity baseball teams at Anaheim HS (where he went to school) and University HS in Irvine. The kids loved him as a coach and he was a great teacher about sports (“always respect the game and those who came before you” he said) and life. I had the privilege (he dragged me out there and said you’re doing it – you could not say no to Dewey!) to coach a 15 and 16 year old team for a couple of years with him. One of the funniest incidents came from a game where at the beginning of the game our right fielder was having trouble figuring out where to play. So Dewey finally told him, “find a sprinkler head and stand there”. About the 5th or 6th inning we hear “timeout” yelled from right field and here the kid is out there doubled over looking at the ground around him. We thought maybe he was hurt or had possibly lost a contact lens so Dewey goes jogging out and comes back chuckling that laugh of his to try and keep it to himself. I said Dewey “what’s wrong” and we walked out to the side of the dugout and he tells me the kid lost the sprinkler head he had been standing on the entire game and was in a panic. We laughed so hard then and afterward (we had to sit down we were laughing so hard) but he never said any more about it to the kid, so as not to embarrass him.
As for myself, for every one of the last 26 years I’ve had the privilege of playing baseball (he was an even better baseball player than softball player) or softball with Dwight. He was the best teammate I’ve ever had and a friend like no other. The team always came first when on the field and he was about friendship and teammates. He had a great sense of humor and a huge heart, with a sharp and dry wit who always gave as good as he got verbally. He was a gentle giant who was a great competitor and you always wanted him on your side because no matter what the situation he would always be there and never quit. He could always laugh at himself and laugh with others, not at them, and if he had nothing good to say he said nothing at all. He would knock you down on a slide and usually pick you back up with a smile on his face.
He ran like the Bambino with small steps but was shocking fast for a big man. He always gave 100% no matter how much he might hurt, since the last few years his knees made it tough on him, but he never complained. (There were never any excuses and he was one of the classiest, most humble people I have ever had the privilege to know.) The only thing we might not miss about him is trying to catch his knuckle ball which was the best I have ever seen. He always laughed when we were trying to catch it and that laugh made it all worthwhile, even though we thought it was going to possibly take our head off.
He seemed to be everyone’s best friend and he was. We will miss, but never forget his laugh and enthusiasm for life. We will miss, but never forget his kindness and good words to everyone on a daily basis. In softball, Capt. Dan’s will miss him the most as a great ball player, teammate and most of all as a friend. But most of all, we will miss him being a daily part of our lives and families because he was. He was one of the most unselfish, humble and giving people I have ever known. He had the heart of a lion but with the gentleness and playfulness of a puppy.
We all grieve for his family because they were so special to him. He loved them all dearly and was extremely proud of them all. Dewey was a “rock” for everyone around him and never complained but just did his best at whatever he was doing. I hope his extended family (baseball players, softball players and friends) can always keep his love and help provide any emotional support that we can to his family. Dwight’s family, Roberta (wife), Wendy and Kelly (daughters), son Brad, (his mother, brothers and sister) and all of his other relatives, “Thank you” for sharing Dwight with us for all of these years. As you will, we will always miss him, love him and hold his memories dear to our hearts.
Dwight, I hope you are at peace, in a better place playing some ball in the Lord’s League or possibly hitting a couple of golf balls. When I told my little six year old that Dewey had gone to heaven, he asked why and I told him I did not know why. About 2 hours later he walk’s up and punches my wife in the leg and when she said “what was that for”, he said “it is because I am angry because “Dewey” was too young to leave us” and I agreed “he was much too young” but he left playing a game he loved dearly.
God bless you Dewey, we love you, will miss you dearly and never forget you.