OBITUARY: Ellis Dillard Thompson Jr.

Ellis Dillard Thompson Jr.

E.D. Thompson, age 96, passed away in his sleep on July 10, 2021, his late wife’s birthday. E.D. and Sonia Thompson were married for 64 years, from August 1954 until her passing in May 2018.

E.D., whose nickname was “Buddy,” was born in Nashville on October 27, 1924, to parents Blanche Dillingham Thompson and Ellis Dillard Thompson Sr.

He attended Clemmons School, West High School, and George Peabody College for Teachers. He earned B.A., M.A., and Ed.S. degrees in music from Peabody.

During World War II, E.D. served in the U.S. Army as a specialist and a typist. He was stationed in Illinois, South Carolina, California, and Georgia. Music was a very important part of E.D.’s life. As a teenager, he played accordion on Ranch House Melodies on Nashville’s WLAC-AM. Before and after his military service, he performed in various dance bands and eventually formed his own band, Buddy Thompson and the Nashville Knights.

E.D. was the band director at Hillsboro High School, the University of Evansville, and Belmont University. He served as the minister of music at East Side Christian Church, Tulip Street United Methodist Church, Donelson Heights United Methodist Church, Calvary United Methodist Church, and Blakemore United Methodist Church.

He was an adjunct instructor of music at Middle Tennessee State University, Aquinas College, and other schools. E.D. played clarinet, bass clarinet, and saxophone in the Chattanooga and Nashville Symphony Orchestras.

He was a member of the American Federation of Musicians and the American Legion. He played in the American Legion Post 5 band. He was the composer of music for woodwinds, the song “Memories” (written for his wife Sonia), and hymns and responses for the National Baptist Hymnal and other hymnals.

In recent years, E.D. Thompson wrote a column, “Nashville Nostalgia,” for the Westview News and the Bellevue News. He was the author of the books Fire for the Choir, I’ve Heard That All My Life, Nashville Nostalgia, More Nashville Nostalgia, The Nashville Nostalgia Years, Rose in the Snow, and Laughing, Loving, and Learning: What We Want Our Grandchildren to Know.

E.D. Thompson is survived by his son, Dr. Jeff Thompson; daughter, Lee Anne Thompson; granddaughters, Katy Parsley Jumper (Bruce), Kelly Parsley Neel (Jake), and Kimberly Parsley; grandsons, Kevin Parsley (Kate), Jonathan Gales, and Kameron Parsley; and great-granddaughters, Blakely, Mackenzie, and Madelyn. A fourth great-granddaughter is on the way.

A Gathering of Family and friends will be held on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 from four until eight in the evening at Marshall-Donnelly Combs Funeral Home.

A Celebration of Life Service will be at nine o’clock in the morning on Thursday, July 15, 2021 at Marshall-Donnelly Combs Funeral Home with Interment to follow in Spring Hill Cemetery at eleven in the morning with Military Honors.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Bellevue United Methodist Church (where E.D. and Sonia were members) or to a charity of your choice.

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