After having heart surgery last Thursday, Joey Thompson, 54, died from a pulmonary embolism Monday morning. Dozens of local farmers and family friends wasted no time coming together, pitching in as a tight-knit agricultural family to cut, bale, and store nearly 3,000 bales of straw from Thompson’s farm in western Daviess County.
Dustin Warren, another local farmer, said shortly after word began to spread of Thompson’s passing, “the hotlines started ringing” and everyone wanted to do what they could to help with the wheat crop.
“We had to let his family know that they’re not alone in this,” Warren said. “They’ll be able to take the next few days to plan a funeral and things like that, and we’re helping do this to take a load off their minds. This gives everyone an opportunity to grieve and mourn in their own way.”
Thompson had seven siblings. Joey, along with his brothers Phil and Pat, were partners for the multi-generational family farm that now goes by the name PPJ Thompson.
The Thompsons used to farm the land where the former Starlight Drive-In Theatre was located (where the FiveStar on West Parrish now sits), but his friends said Monday the Thompsons were essentially pushed out and they relocated near St. Joseph.
They also used to raise a large number of hogs, but transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) wiped them out several years ago. Since then, they’ve had a closed herd with about 40 sows, largely selling to individuals.
Thompson was a devoted member to the Kentucky Young Farmers Association, and was 2008-09 member of the year. He also won several accolades, including winning a national yield contest when they did grain sorghum.
Thompson’s longtime friends began recounting stories from throughout the years, largely centered on him being outgoing and outspoken.
“If he met a person, when he left they weren’t a stranger. Sometimes when he left they were glad to see him go,” they said with a laugh. “He was the kind of guy you didn’t have to guess what he was thinking, he pretty much told you what he thought.”
Warren noted this was not the first time farmers have come together to help their own, and it won’t be the last. Warren said it’s happened more times than he can count and was instilled in him at a young age in 1999 when his father, who died from skin cancer at 42 years old, received community support for their tobacco crop.
“Anytime someone falls ill or has hard times, we all come together,” Warren said. “It’s been done for generations in the community.”
At this time, the services for Thompson have not been announced.