James A. Thompson Memorial Scholarship
Gerald “Jerry” Thompson was a local businessman who was well connected to the Thousand Oaks community. He was a contractor and developer, and his company was Riggco, Inc. Jerry’s mother had been an educator, and Jerry believed that higher education was an important option for young people. In 1987 he took the first steps to establish a scholarship at California Lutheran University, the Gerald A. Thompson Scholarship.
Initially, Jerry planned for his scholarship to assist students involved in some aspect of athletics. At about that same time, however, CLU moved into a new category within the NCAA (Division III) where scholarships based on athletic participation were not permitted. Jerry was an easy-going person and, in 1989, readily agreed to change the purpose of his scholarship to assistance for those in the process of acquiring their teaching credential.
A major event changed Jerry’s plans once more when, in October 1990, his son James was killed in a motorcycle accident. James was 24 when he died and had made scores of friends through his profession as a landscaper. He was well known for his genuine zest for living.
With his wife Gloria’s consent, Jerry changed the name of the award to the James A. Thompson Memorial Scholarship to honor his son. By this time, the fund was fully endowed, and it grew through the influx of memorial gifts after James’ death. The intent of the scholarship remained as a support to those planning to become teachers.