Sophus Aasgaard Thompson passed away at the age of 91 on April 22, 2021, in Houston, Texas. He was a devoted husband, adoring father and grandfather, keen businessman, and skilled engineer who possessed an infectious smile that immediately drew others to him. He had a remarkable way with people and never met a stranger. His innate sense of humility, kindness, and graciousness allowed him to attract friends wherever he was and make everyone around him feel special. In a somewhat atypical fashion for a serious engineer, Sophus had a magnetic quick wit and sense of humor.
On May 12, 1929, Sophus was born to proud parents Sophus and Dagny Thompson. While still in high school, he began working for Austin Steel Company in Dallas. He then graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in civil engineering and then continued his education with a master of science in civil engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He also served as an Army corporal in the engineering department in Fort Leonard Wood, MO. Throughout his time as a civil engineer, he worked on several noteworthy structural steel fabrication and building projects: Dallas Market Center Buildings, Dallas Zoo, GM Assembly Plant, Houston Intercontinental Airport, JPMorgan Chase Building--formerly known as Texas Commerce Bank and, at the time, hailed as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Fast forward 40 plus years, when Sophus retired as president and CEO of Austin Steel Company, showing a lifetime of true dedication and devotion. At the end of his outstanding career, he served as a consultant for Safety Steel in Victoria, TX.
While he consulted on many projects, he was recognized on two major jobs for his innate ability to not only provide the plans and blueprints for the job but also to stand alongside the installation personnel and actually supply the knowhow on how to get the job done. Carlisle Maxwell, owner of Safety Steel, a division of Commercial Metals Company, speaks highly of Sophus on the large and complex projects of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston and for Terminal E at Bush International Airport. Sophus was able to incorporate sophisticated techniques that he researched in both London and California and apply this technology which had never been done before in Texas. As Mr. Maxwell said of him in a recent letter, “…he knew how to adapt engineering principles to the real world of steel fabrication and construction. He knew how to get things done.”
Faith was always the cornerstone of Sophus’s life. From birth until the age of 56, he was a member of Central Lutheran Church in Dallas where he met Margaret Sommers (whom he later married in 1983), raised his family and made lifelong friendships. When he moved to Houston in 1985 after he and Margaret were married, they joined the Church of St. John the Divine. The American Society of Civil Engineers was another group of people to whom Sophus devoted his time. His continuous passion for serving others led him to mentor elementary-aged students and business associates.
Throughout his life, he was extremely active and loved spending time outdoors. He considered a day well spent when bicycling, jogging, or mountain climbing. Documenting his explorations through film and then making those captured memories into slideshows was also a passion for Sophus. Over a 10 year period (2004-2014), he and his brother Erik cycled 29 different trails in a nine-trip span in several states. He was also an avid water skier who taught his own children and many other children how to ski during family vacations at the lake.
Sophus is survived by his wife, Margaret; his brother Dr. Erik G. Thompson, retired Professor of Civil Engineering from Colorado State University and wife Sidney; his children: daughter Kathleen and husband Kirk King of Carrollton, Texas; daughter Allison and husband Steve Feldman of Houston; daughter Margaret Barrick of Leander, Texas; son James and wife Marti Thompson of Rockwell, Texas; stepdaughter Susan and husband Michael Klein of Austin, Texas; and stepson Mark Peterson of Houston. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and stepson Michael Peterson.
His greatest joy was to serve those in need and spread the love of Christ.
A memorial service is planned for 11 o'clock in the morning on Friday, May 21, 2021 at the Church of St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Blvd. in Houston, Texas.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Church of St. John the Divine.
Church of St. John the Divine
2450 River Oaks Boulevard, Houston TX 77019