NAPPANEE — Larry Thompson’s fifth term as mayor of Nappanee will be his last.
Thompson said Wednesday, Jan. 8, at a meeting of the city council that will not seek re-election in 2016. The announcement made during his annual State of the City address.
Ending a tenure which began in 1996, Thompson said Thursday that after his fifth and final term concludes in 2016, he plans to go back to work running his business, Thompson, Lengacher and Yoder Funeral Homes.
Several memorable accomplishments came to mind when asked what the city’s greatest accomplishments were in his time as mayor.
Thompson noted the establishment of the Boys and Girls Club of Nappanee, maintaining the vibrancy of downtown, park improvements and solid relations with the Amish community as things that he was proud of during his service.
But the event that left the largest impression on Thompson was the tornado which ravaged Nappanee on Oct. 18, 2007 and the pluck and unity the community showed in bouncing back.
“We cleaned up an F-3 tornado quicker than a lot of other places,” he said. “And we did it without federal assistance.”
“That was a big deal and we worked really hard to accomplish that.”
Thompson stressed the importance of the help he received throughout the years.
“In everything I accomplished, I think I found the right partners,” he said.
After nearly 20 years, however, Thompson believes it’s time to move on.
“I’m a term-limits guy and this is my fifth term,” he said.
His announcement two years before his term concludes was simply a way to get the news out now so he could focus on finishing his service without distractions.
Even though he’s publicly announced — he’ll eventually move on to concentrate full-time on the funeral home — Thompson doesn’t plan on taking it easy.
“Right now, it’s full steam ahead to the finish line,” he said.
Thompson has a long history of public service before beginning what will be a 20-year stint as Mayor.
Thompson’s life in service began as one of Nappanee’s first EMTs in 1973. He and his family then spent a few years in Delphi, Ind., before returning to the city in 1983. That year, Thompson bought the funeral home that now bears his name and began serving as a firefighter.
In the early 1990s, Thompson began getting more officially involved in government affairs.
He was appointed to serve on the city’s park board and ran in his first election, a successful bid for the school board.
After several years, serving in those capacities, the mayor’s position became open.
Prodded to run, Thompson ran against an opponent for the only time in his career. Every election since, he’s run unopposed.
For a man who says he didn’t have any political aspirations prior to his election as mayor, Thompson’s work left a clear mark on the city he’s already led for 18 years.
“I can’t thank the people of Nappanee enough for letting me serve them this long,” he said.