<p>EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – At the age of 82, Royal Credit Union founder John Thompson has passed away. Realizing that the employees of Uniroyal needed convenient financial services, Thompson got RCU off the ground in a small office right in the Uniroyal plant. As the second employee hired in those early days, Leatrice Folberg, who moved up to Senior Vice President before she retired in 1987, remembers that even when they went through strikes and some days wondered how the credit union would have enough money to open the door, Thompson never gave up. “He always said if you keep your hand closed tightly to never give anything away, then your fist is never open to get in return,” said Folberg. “He was someone who was fair, kind, generous and a good leader who enjoyed being in charge and was great at it.” Among his many accomplishments, Thompson is credited with offering the first share draft account in 1976, opening one of the first satellite branches in a grocery store also in the `70s, making RCU first in the area to offer business loans and when he retired in 1984 RCU assets had grown to $100 million. Thompson was considered a pioneer in SEG development and business lending. When sponsor company Uniroyal began having financial problems, Thompson worked to expand the membership of the CU. It’s that expansion that many credit for the CU’s growth. RCU President/CEO Charles Grossklaus considered Thompson one of his very good friends. Grossklaus succeeded Thompson as CEO in 1984 and is only the second CEO in the CU’s history. “He was one of most visionary people I have met in my life,” said Grossklaus. “He put 100% of his heart an soul into everything he did and would never take no for an answer. He would do everything he could to possibly succeed.” Described by others as a giving man, Thompson enjoyed the simple things in life like wood working, and after he retired he got involved in long distance walking, taught a woodworking class at a local college and became heavily involved in senior citizen programs. Thompson is survived by his wife and children Jeanie and Jim.</p>

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