In focus: Anne Thompson

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By Brenda Locklear

95-year-old Anne Thompson, "wasn't really a southern belle, she was more a steel magnolia," said Judith Motter of her aunt.

The Center Hill resident and ranch owner who was a generous contributor to local and national causes died on Jan. 9.

According to Motter, she fit the definition - 'a woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity and uncommon fortitude.'

"She was driving a year and a half ago and living alone. She was not a sweet little old lady, she was a good little old lady," said Motter of her aunt.

Anne Williamson  was originally from Georgia, but grew up in Inverness, just 26 miles from Bushnell. That's where she met her Sumter County husband, the late Herman Guy Thompson. She was working in the Bank of Inverness when they met and married in the mid 1950s, according to Motter.

They never had children, but they did have a "bunch of nieces and nephews" she said.

Anne Thompson had dozens of grand nieces and nephews and she knew them all, as well as their birth dates. Motter said her aunt would go to the Hallmark store in Leesburg and spend up to three hours and $200 to $300 picking out birthday cards for them.

"Everyone would get the appropriate card ...very thoughtful, she was very generous but not showy."

And the Thompsons were big supporters of youth - from youth scholarships and the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches to Lake Sumter Community College, now Lake Sumter State College. She supported the Florida Baptist Children's Home, the First Baptist Church of Webster and Guideposts Foundation.

She was also fond of donating add-ons for the livestock exhibitions at the annual youth livestock show, which impacted youths.

Motter said that one young woman, who ended up doing some work for Anne asked "Are you the Mrs. Anne Thompson?" And she was - the Anne Thompson who had provided an add-on not only for the young woman's animal sale in her youth, but also for her daughter's, years later.

"She was quiet, she was shy, not outgoing but she made her opinions known," said Motter of her aunt, adding that she was very nice, but a strong southern woman.

One of five children, she had three brothers - Griffin, Nix and Malcolm and an older sister, Francis. Motter is Malcolm's daughter.

"She was the baby of the family," Motter said of her aunt.

While the Thompsons had land in Sumter County, they had even more as time went by.

Her niece said there was a time they had thousands of acres in Lake and Sumter counties.

After her husband's death, most of the property was sold and she kept only the 200 acres  where their ranch house still sits in Center Hill.

"She got a lot of thank-you notes from kids,"  and plaques from the college, said Motter, noting her aunt contributed many thousands of dollars to various causes but would be very shy about saying so.

The Thompsons were one of four Sumter County families recognized in recent years as Florida Century Pioneer Family Farm owners. 

The Century Pioneer Family Farm Program was initiated in 1985 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and honors families who have maintained at least 100 years of continuous family farm ownership. 

The program was designed to honor note the benefit that family farms and ranches provide to the state and honoring the "pioneers" stewards of the land for preserving environmental resources and for helping foster the state’s agricultural industry - a strong economic base for Florida.

And while Anne Thompson ran a cattle ranch, "I don't know that I ever saw her on a horse. She was prone to drive a truck or a Lincoln around the property," Motter said.

That was usually if she was taking lunch out to the cowboys or cow dudes working the ranch.

And she really enjoyed going out to share lunch with the cowboys, when they were cooking, Motter said.

"She loved people and she really helped a lot of people."

Motter said she's been coming down to spend a week or so with her aunt for several years now and in turn, her aunt would go up to Motter's mountain home in North Georgia during the summer.

She was "Just one of a kind," Motter said.





Anne Thompson was the daughter of Dora and George Williamson, born on Dec. 6, 1922 in Jefferson, Ga.

She was a graduate of Florida State University and a member of First Baptist Church of Webster.  She was also a member of the Bethany Sunday School Class, the Cattlemen's Association, the Sumter County Market Association, the Sumter County Fair Association, the Lake-Sumter State College Foundation, Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches, and Florida Baptist Children's Home.  

She is survived by nieces: Sheelagh Williamson, Mary Alice Leppert, Jane Butler, Sylvia Connell, Sara Carr, Judith Motter; nephew: George Williamson and many great-nieces and great-nephews and many close friends. 

 In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her memory to: Cornerstone Hospice; Lake-Sumter State College; Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches; or Florida Baptist Children’s Home.  

A service was held on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at Webster First Baptist, with Pastor Don Grant officiating.  Interment followed at Mt. Zion Cemetery and arrangements were entrusted to Purcell Funeral Home, Bushnell.