Former Northern Star Adviser Jerry Thompson died this morning

By Sammi Malone

DeKALB — Between the years of 1971 and 1995, Jerry Thompson could be found in the adviser’s office of the Northern Star with a baseball cap resting on his head and a coffee held firmly in his hand. Thompson died peacefully the morning of Nov. 6 and is remembered by Northern Star alumni as a pillar of journalistic integrity.

Thompson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and took over an advisory role at the Star following the passing of Roy Campbell. During Thompson’s time advising the Star, the student reporters he led took on two university presidents. One such battle led to NIU President Clyde Wingfield attempting to remove Thompson from his advisory role. Thompson responded by suing the university and relying on the First Amendment to get his job back, setting an example for his reporters.

Northern Star alumni Kevin Botterman, who was one of the first reporters assigned to work on the Wingfield stories, said Thompson constantly encouraged and guided him through his investigative work.

“The lessons that [Thompson] taught me about being thorough and tracking down about every lead, he was just such an influential person and was very special to work with,” Botterman said. “He was always engaging and a true blessing to work with.”

Botterman, who worked with Thompson for roughly three years at the Star, said Thompson could talk about anything from classical music to foreign policy, citing Thompson as a capsule of information. Chuck Fieldman, who was a sports writer for the Star before graduating in 1978, said Thompson was the kind of person you could from, even when you didn’t realize you were learning.

Thompson often referred to Fieldman as Chuckles, something he said only Thompson and one other friend could get away with. Fieldman said the Star was one of the best experiences of his life and Thompson was a big part of that.

“[Thompson] was full of advice and was just one of the best people I’ve known in my life,” Fieldman said. “He was respected and adored and people who didn’t get to know him really missed out. [Thompson] was one of the most influential people in my life.”

Aside from his journalistic integrity, Thompson is also remembered for his sense of humor and deep care for the Star and its reporters. Bob Regan, who was a sports reporter before graduating in 1990, said Thompson often joked that the sports section was the toy section, remarking that the comment captured Thompson humor and integrity.

Regan said Thompson never just sat in his office, he wanted to be involved with the students and their stories, leaving an impact on their lives that was larger than Thompson may have imagined.

“[Thompson] left a huge impact on everyone at the Star,” Regan said. “He made sure students took it seriously and he was always there for advice on work, school, or even just life if we wanted. He cared about NIU, journalism and the Star and I loved my time at the Star because of him.”

Thompson is survived by his wife Winnie, daughter Emily and son Eric. Winnie said at Jerry’s request there will be no funeral or obituary.