Photo via Telesport.al
In my decades in North Carolina, first with the NC Baptist State Convention and then with the NC Council of Churches, I’ve known and worked with lots of remarkable and newsworthy people. But probably nobody more so than Harriette Thompson. I came to know Harriette through her spouse, Sydnor Thompson, himself no slouch in the newsworthy department. Sydnor was one of the state’s leading attorneys and a judge on the Court of Appeals. He was also a leader in the NC Council of Churches over a period of many years. He served on our Governing Board, and is responsible, more than anyone else, for our engagement on interfaith issues.
I first met Harriette when she and Sydnor hosted a reception/fundraiser for the Council in their beautiful Myers Park home in Charlotte. I learned that Harriette is a concert pianist; after most people had gone she played exquisite Chopin for me on the grand piano in their living room. I learned later that she runs marathons. In a Council Board meeting in Clemmons in 2012, Sydnor told us of her cancer. When he had to leave the meeting early, I followed him out and learned that he was deeply concerned for her health.
As it turned out, Sydnor also had his own cancer going on, and it took his life in January. At his request, one of the places for memorial gifts at the time of his passing was the NC Council of Churches.
But back to the news. I watched the CBS Evening News last weekend in order to see their report on the sad passing of Beau Biden. What a marvelous story of fatherly support of his children, and what a poignant story of a parent’s loss of a child.
I kept the TV on although I wasn’t following it closely. They moved on to a story about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego. I’m not a runner, don’t have particular interest in San Diego, and, after last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Raleigh on Palm Sunday, I’m no fan of their race. But the story was about a 92-year-old woman who had become the oldest woman ever to complete a marathon. It got my attention, and then I noticed that her name placard was “Harriette.” It took a couple of Google clicks to confirm that it was indeed Harriette Thompson. The story didn’t say it, but I know she was running with Sydnor in her heart.
So congratulations, Harriette, and many more miles to you.
You can click here to find links to reports about Harriette from the Washington Post, the BBC, ESPN, NPR, the Charlotte Observer, Huffington Post, Deutsche Welle, and lots more. Newsworthy indeed.
Sydnor Thompson, III says
The Thompson family joins me in thanking George for this beautiful tribute.