Making More Bankers of Integrity
Benedictine College established the Byron G. Thompson Center for Integrity and Finance July 22 on its Atchison, Kansas, campus.
Surrounded by six of his surviving 11 children along with Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop James Johnston, the college honored the parishioner, family-man and financial leader, hoping to inspire more men and women to follow his example.
Country Club Bank and Platte Valley Bank joined the family’s contribution in appreciation of Byron’s critical leadership as chairman to each organization.
“The Byron G. Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance and Economics was formed in order to shape and inspire a new generation of financial leaders who follow in Byron Thompson’s footsteps and who will ‘do well and do good,’” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “Benedictine College is known for its banking leaders, from small-community bankers to nationally known financial leaders. Byron Thompson is the model.”
When Thompson died in 2015, he was called “a Kansas City hero” and “no less than an icon to our town” in The Kansas City Star.
Thompson’s integrity also made an enormous impact on Benedictine College. In 1955, when he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Thompson left students with a stirring call to his fellow students to “attain physical, intellectual, emotional, and social security … but moral and religious maturity as well.”
There followed a full life in which Thompson did exactly that. He served as a B-26 crew chief in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, achieved impressive results in a banking career that touched seven decades, and became a community leader, serving in several civic, religious and charitable organizations. And his commitment to his wife Jeanne and their 11 children and 47 grandchildren is a testament to his witness to family and faith.
Paul Thompson, the President and CEO of Country Club Bank and Byron’s son was on hand for the dedication along with Tom Hoenig, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and former FDIC Vice Chair.
“Benedictine College helped shape my father into the truly great man that he was,” said Byron’s son, Paul Thompson, President/CEO/Chairman of Country Club Bank. “It is a privilege for our family and bank group to ensure his legacy and values will live on at Benedictine College, his alma mater, and help create future generations of ethical leaders.”
“I have known Byron all my adult life,” said Hoenig. “He has been my model and my mentor. Byron was a pillar of integrity. Everyone who knows of Byron knows of that.”
But additionally, he said, “His commitment to faith is beyond understanding almost. He had such a deep faith. I saw it whenever we interacted with each other. He was a role model to business in Kansas City and across the nation, he was that well known for it.”
The Thompson Center will fulfill its mission in four principle ways:
- Benedictine will add faculty that will bring an emphasis on banking, uniting economics and finance with concern for the common good.
- The Center will create a Minor in Banking and will require courses in ethics, morality and Catholic social teaching.
- The Thompson Center will sponsor the Thompson Fall Lecture and Thompson Spring Lecture which will highlight the tools needed and reasons for high standards of conduct in economics, finance or banking.
- The Thompson Center will sponsor the Thompson Fellows which will be a cohort of students who earn the right to invest a significant portion of the College’s endowment, in order to get hands-on experience in managing a diverse portfolio of investments. The Thompson Fellows will be eligible to be awarded special internships in banking and finance in order to further develop their real-world experience.
- Finally, The Thompson Center will annually award The Thompson Medal, which will be given to a principled leader in finance, economics, entrepreneurship or banking who exemplifies Byron Thompson’s ideals.
The college’s Thompson Trading Room, part of the Benedictine College School of Business, will be a locus of activity for the Thompson Center. This room was a first initiative in developing future leaders with the ability to analyze and manage the financial forces that shape our economy. The Trading Room features a video wall and streaming stock market ticker, along with a big screen for meetings and academic instruction.
The July 22 Sunday event began with Mass followed by brunch, carrying on a decades-long Thompson family tradition. A few of the dozens of Thompson grandchildren pulled a curtain to unveil the Thompson Center sign.
In 2015, Thompson closed out his life, less than two months before he died, by returning to Benedictine College, an institution he had served in several capacities. “I’ve had a full life of faith, family, friends, fun, and a future,” he told well-wishers at his 60th class reunion. “And then it’s about finish. Finish your life well. That’s the target. That’s what I hope I did.”
Said president Minnis, “Benedictine College is humbled and honored by its association with Byron G. Thompson, a truly great man who exemplifies the Benedictine values of prayer and work,” Minnis said.
See the Benedictine College, Country Club Bank and Platte Valley Bank press releases here.