Pete Thompson brought so much energy and enthusiasm to Kings Park High School that students felt a void when he retired two years ago.
“One of his colleagues told me that, the week after he retired, one of the kids at school came up to him and said ‘this school doesn’t have any life anymore without Mr. Thompson,’ ” Thompson’s brother, Tim said.
Pete, who grew up in Kings Park and lived in East Setauket, died of colon cancer Dec. 31. The former Kings Park varsity lacrosse coach was 56.
“He made it his business to make everybody smile,” said Susan Ankudavich, 48, a former student who later joined Thompson on the Kings Park faculty.
“If the mood was somber, or even a little bit low, Pete did his best to liven things up a little bit and put a smile on people’s faces,” Ankudavich, 48, said from her home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Whether you were a student or teacher, he made the room happier just by being in it,” she said. “He was jovial and always ready for a laugh. He wanted to make other people smile. That was the best thing about him.”
Tim Thompson, 55 of Kings Park, said Pete loved teaching and coaching.
“He’d coach anything if you gave him the opportunity,” the brother said. “His wins were not measured by the final scores of the contests he coached, but by the number of students and players he helped.”
Born Jan. 30, 1961, Peter S. Thompson graduated from Kings Park High School in 1979 and New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, in 1983 with a degree in physical education. He began his career at Kings Park High School in 1985, teaching physical education. He also coached the junior varsity basketball team and served as an assistant varsity football coach.
In all facets of his career, he made strong connections.
“As a student, you always wanted to do your best for him,” Andkudavich said.
Helping people was what made Pete tick, said his brother. He was passionate about charity work, helping families in need through the “Stuff a bus” food drive on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year and the Kings Park Varsity Club’s “Adopt a Family” program.
“He’s the guy that everyone aspires to be,” Tim said. “If you had a son or daughter, you would like him to be like my brother.”
Pete also served as an administrator and ran the hockey program at the Rinx Summer Camps in Hauppauge for more than 25 years.
“The impact that Pete Thompson made on the Kings Park community will live on forever and his memory will be one that will be cherished by each and every person who had the privilege to have known him,” said Pete Blieberg, the assistant executive director for Section XI, Suffolk County’s high school sports executive body.
Thompson is survived by his wife, Cindy; daughter Valerie Thompson of Connecticut; son Paul, of South Setauket; and brothers Tim, Rick, Kevin, and Jay. Burial was Jan. 6 at Pinelawn Memorial Park.