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Vigil, service honor East TN principal killed in crash

11:35 PM, Mar 3, 2013   |    comments
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Friends, family, and strangers honored Bledsoe County Middle School principal Deborah Thompson, 58, Sunday.

Police said Thompson was leaving the Tomato Head in West Knoxville when a speeding car crashed into the building and killed her.

The vehicle damaged the restaurant and the neighboring business Wild Birds Unlimited. Tomato Head reopened Friday night.

Sunday morning her church held a special service in her honor.  Sunday night, employees of Tomato Head held a vigil for her.

Employees and a few people who knew her lit candles to pay their respects.  They shared how the experience had been traumatic, but how their work family had helped them to grieve.

The employees explained how even though they never knew Thompson, she had inspired them with her life's work. 

Thompson has been in education since 1978, working most recently as the Bledsoe County Middle School principal in Pikeville. According to her school biography, she lived in Crossville with her husband of more than three decades, co-owning and managing Thompson T.V. in Cumberland County.

She had also fought a battle with cancer and vowed to beat it.

Some of the money the restaurant raises over the weekend will go towards a memorial for Thompson.

Donations can also be made at the First National Bank in Crossville, and the branch in Pikeville has also opened a memorial fund for Thompson. People can either drop donations are at either branch or mail it in.

Her husband is asking for monetary donations instead of flowers. He said she would want that money to fund the school for special projects she never got to see to fruition.

Thompson's funeral is set for Tuesday, March 5th at 8:00 p.m. at Bilbrey Funeral Home in Crossville.

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A longtime educator killed in Thursday's car crash at the Tomato Head restaurant is being remembered as "the perfect middle school teacher."

"It's unbelievable; I mean it's not something you could even imagine," said Bledsoe County school superintendent Jennifer Terry about the sudden passing of Deborah Thompson, 58.

Thompson has been in education since 1978, working most recently as the Bledsoe County Middle School principal in Pikeville. According to her school biography, she lived in Crossville with her husband of more than three decades, co-owning and managing Thompson T.V. in Cumberland County.

Many would be proud of this educator for another reason: Thompson recently conquered cancer.

"She was very inspiring, loving, she was a mother to everyone
here, students and staff," Terry added.

 

Back in Knoxville, the Tomato Head restaurant is trying to move forward with Thompson in mind.

"Part of the proceeds of what they sell were going to the folks that were hurt here, so we thought that was a good deal," said customer David Watson.

As for her friends, Thompson's boss said it will not be easy without "Miss Debbie," as she was affectionately known, walking through the middle school's doors Monday morning.

"We're all very blessed because we've known Ms. Debbie," said Terry.

According to the Bledsoe County school's website, the family will set up a fund in the coming days. That money will be used to purchase a sign for the middle school, in honor of Deborah Thompson.

 

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