William G. Thompson
William Glasgow Thompson, the man who provided the inspiration for Peconic Landing in Greenport, died July 6 at The Shores, the lifecare community’s nursing facility. He was 82 years old.
Mr. Thompson was a successful home builder on the South Fork when, in the mid-1990s, he came up with the idea of establishing the first lifecare community on Long Island’s East End. Water Mill was his first choice for a location, but a civic group there had other ideas, threatening to sue if the project advanced. Subsequent public hearings deteriorated into “name calling and near fistfights,” according to Raymond Wesnofske, former chairman of Bridgehampton National Bank and an original member of the Peconic Landing board.
Eventually, Mr. Thompson got the message and began looking for other properties on the East End. He told the Southampton Press at the time, “I’m going to get the hell out of Water Mill and I’m going to spend the rest of my life, if necessary, creating a lifecare community on the East End.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
When he left the South Fork, Mr. Thompson told Peconic Landing president/CEO Robert Syron more than once over the years, he felt like Frankenstein being chased out of town with “pitchforks and torches.”
An original group of about 10 investors, including Mr. Thompson and Mr. Wesnofske, contributed $100,000 apiece for the down payment to purchase the historic Brecknock Hall property in Greenport, the ancestral estate of David Gelston Floyd.
Mr. Thompson’s dream eventually came true in 2002, when the $124 million Peconic Landing lifecare community opened its doors. At the time of his death, he was a trustee emeritus of the Peconic Landing Sponsor Board and had previously served as chairman of the Brecknock Hall Foundation.
Said Mr. Syron this week: “I called him Mr. T. And that wasn’t for Mr. Thompson; it was for Mr. Tenacity.”
William Glasgow Thompson was born in New York City on Sept. 27, 1927. His parents were Edna and William Thompson. He was raised in Larchmont, N.Y., and graduated from the Salisbury (Conn.) School, where he was a member of the football and crew teams. He attended The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., and Amherst (Mass.) College before graduating from Columbia University in 1952.
Following college, he served in the U.S. Army in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Mr. Thompson spent 15 years as a sales executive with the NBC television network. He also worked in advertising sales for television stations in New York and Chicago.
In 1966, Mr. Thompson purchased, moved and renovated Old Fields, a historic farmhouse in Bridgehampton. That experience led to his second career as a home builder. He eventually built more than 100 custom homes on the South Fork, including the Bull Head development in Bridgehampton, one of the first “cluster communities” in the region.
Mr. Thompson also owned two homes in Key West, Fla.
He was a member of the University Club in New York City, the Devon Yacht Club in Amagansett and the Bridgehampton Club. He also belonged to the Bridgehampton and Southold historical societies and was a congregant of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Bridgehampton and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Long Island Diocesan Committee.
Mr. Thompson’s marriage to Catherine Seckel ended in divorce. He is survived by his stepson, Scott Campbell Seckel of Phoenix, Ariz., and a cousin, John Thompson of Phippsburg, Maine.
He was predeceased by his older brother, Hugh Thompson.
The funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 17, at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 2463 Main St., Bridgehampton. Arrangements are being handled by the Horton-Mathie Funeral Home of Greenport.
Memorial contributions may be sent to St. Ann’s Church or The Salisbury School.
The front page of the latest Peconic Landing Crier, the community’s monthly newsletter, was devoted to Mr. Thompson’s passing and carried the message: “He dared to dream — and took the risks. Every person who enjoys living here and contributes to the life here owes his presence to Bill’s dream, energy and determination to fight the obstacles to make it happen.”