Mike Thompson’s lifetime of dedication to the Conservative Movement began when Thompson was a member of Young Americans for Freedom at Indiana University before he continued his studies and campus activism at the University of Missouri. He would go on to be elected to YAF’s national board of directors in 1965 and serve as national vice chairman in the late 1960s.
Looking back on his involvement, Thompson once noted that his “organizational ability, the public speaking and debate capabilities, and the creative juices that continue to flow were all ‘hatched’ during those YAF days.”
It was also during those days, at one particular Vietnam teach-in sponsored by YAF, that Thompson met his wife Katherine. “YAF introduced me to the love of my life,” he’d say.
During his time as a student activist, Thompson led a group of YAF activists in launching Students for Reagan, effectively setting the cornerstone for what would lead Young Americans for Freedom in becoming the foot soldiers of the Reagan Revolution.
In addition, Thompson led YAF’s Student Committee for Victory in Vietnam and served as director of the 1969 YAF convention. As true today as it was fifty years ago, he wrote in his welcome message to the delegates that “The people of the United States are looking to YAF for responsible leadership—In these times of turmoil, we are in a position to bring sanity back to our campuses.”
In Wayne Thorburn’s A Generation Awakes, Thompson recalled the “great activity and organizational growth” of YAF he experienced first-hand:
“The YAF campaign to STOP IBM from selling computers to the Soviet bloc, MACK trucks from selling to the Soviets, advocating victory in Vietnam, fighting the National Student Association on our campuses, etc.—all were campaigns and activities and forged us into a national organization on hundreds of campuses.”
Following his direct involvement with YAF, Thompson championed YAF and the conservative cause by organizing alumni events and launching the Thomas Jefferson Institute, regarded as the premier conservative think tank in Virginia.
The Vice President of Young America’s Foundation’s Board of Directors Ron Pearson recalled Thompson’s achievements in a statement:
“From his days in high school as a member of Young Americans for Freedom and then on to college as YAF Missouri State Chairman, YAF National Board Member, and Chairman of the Students for Victory in Vietnam Committee, to his organizing of annual YAF alumni luncheons and—in ‘retirement’—his founding of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy, Mike always offered a smile to all, a can-do disposition, and ensuring friendship. Mike will be missed by all who ever knew him and always made wherever he was a more welcoming place.”
Mike is survived by his wife, Katherine, his son Mike Thompson, Jr. and his wife Maureen, and their two daughters Katie and Abby; his daughter Liza Graves and her husband Jay, and their children Mary-Blake, Reese and Charlie; and by his brothers Rusty, Fred, and Curt, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.