Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Carv Thompson remembered as mentor, promoter, supporter to many

Carveth "Carv" Thompson

FAITH, SD – “He gave me my first pharmacy job.” “He was a good friend to many and a pillar of the community.” “He was a wonderful mentor to so many people, especially in Faith.”

Those are just a few of the messages people from across the United States are sharing as they learn of the passing of long-time Faith, SD area businessman, Carveth “Carv” Thompson at the age 88. He was hospitalized in Omaha, NE and died Wed., Aug. 11.

A memorial mass for Carv will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Faith, SD.  Burial will be held at a later date.

Carv was many things, including a Legacy of Achievement: South Dakota Hall of Fame inductee. Following is the biography written when he joined that memorable list.

Carveth Thompson was born in Faith, South Dakota on October 25th, 1932, the son of Odin and Blanche Thompson. His brother, Cullen, is deceased and his sister, Marilyn McDermott, lives in Chandler, Arizona.

Carv graduated from Faith High School in 1950 and earned a pharmacy degree in 1954 from South Dakota State College. At SDSC he was in the Army ROTC and upon graduation was commissioned a 2ndLieutenant in the U. S. Army and served for two years in Japan as a medical service officer.

In 1957, after his Army duty, Carv returned to Faith and worked as a pharmacist in his Father’s drug store. In 1958 he purchased the business from his parents and named it THOMPSON DRUG.

On May 31st, 1959, Carv married Margaret King at Plainview, South Dakota. They had three children, Gayle (deceased), Linda Aughenbaugh of Omaha and son, John, who lives near Spearfish.

Carv was very active in community affairs in Faith and while on the school board in 1966, the “new” gym was built, the old gym was remodeled into classrooms and the new school lunch program began. Total cost of the project was $120,000.

Carv organized and was President of the Faith Country Development Corporation which became the vehicle for several major projects including the Prairie Oasis Mall, Prairie Vista Inn Motel, Prairie View Apartment complex, the Swimming Pool, and others.

In February, 1975, Carv, Lynn Feist and John Fisher combined their time and talent to build the Prairie Oasis Mall, an eight store shopping center and post office on Faith’s Main Street.

In 1965, Les Kleven, owner of KBHB Radio in Sturgis, convinced Carv to start a Faith Area News radio program. It was heard for 10 minutes Monday through Friday morning at 10:00 on KBHB and was heard in five states, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska.

Carv broadcast the program daily and occasionally from all over the country, for 28 years. The program carried local news, weather, sports, market reports, community happenings, school news, interviews and local politics.

Carv donated over 10,000 hours of his time to this community service project which in its 28 years raised thousands of dollars and millions of smiles for worthy causes and really “Put Faith on the map”. The program continues today broadcast by other volunteers.

On December 8th, 1977, a cold night of -23 degrees, the Faith Country Development Corporation met with 50 people present and decided to build a swimming pool. Eventually the Faith Area Swimming Pool Assn. Inc. was formed with Lynn Feist, John Fisher and Carv as the Incorporators. The pool cost $70,000. A S.D. Dept. of Recreation grant was received for $53,000 and Carv raised the other $17,000 on his radio program from generous listeners.

In 1960, Carv and Minna Kelly from Kelly’s IGA grocery store were Co-Chairs of the Faith Golden Jubilee celebration. In 1985, Carv and Margaret were Co-Chairpersons of Faith’s five day, Diamond Jubilee Event. Thompsons created 20 committees with 10 or more volunteers on each committee who worked tirelessly for 18 months to make the Diamond Jubilee a gigantic and memorable celebration. The event was a financial success with monies left over as “seed money” for Faith’s Centennial celebration in 2010.

Professionally, Carv owned and operated Thompson Drug in Faith from 1958 to 2002. He was an active part of the Faith Medical Service Team, serving on the Clinic Board of Directors, as pharmacy consultant to the Faith Hospital, and was involved in promoting the many needed fund raising activities with his Faith Area News. Carv and Margaret expanded their Thompson Drug Chain to seven stores: Faith, Philip, Deadwood, Lead, Eagle Butte, Lemmon and McLaughlin.

Carv has been a member of the Board of Directors of Farmers State Bank since 1985 which at that time was owned by BankWest of Pierre. In 1991, Bob Brancel of Pierre and Carv and Margaret purchased the bank from BankWest. In 1996, Mr. Brancel died unexpectedly leaving Thompsons with an option to buy the bank. This was an opportunity to bring the ownership of the bank back to Faith which they did with the financial help of Orville and Helen Graslie, Gary and Nancy Vance, Eldon and Mary Jean Jensen and Morris Gustafson. This again made the Farmers State Bank a “Home owned and home managed bank” to better serve customers with “Local control and local decision making.” Carv also served as a SCORE volunteer for the Small Business Administration.

Carv, an active Republican, served his State in various ways. Governor Archie Gubbrud appointed him to a three year term on the SD Board of Pharmacy and Governor Nils Boe appointed him to a second term on that Board. Governor Frank Farrar appointed Carv to a two year term in the South Dakota House of Representatives to which he won re-election in 1970. Governor Bill Janklow appointed Carv to the South Dakota State Fair Commission where he was re-appointed by Governor George Mickelson and served 13 years as Chairman and Entertainment Director. Governor Walt Miller appointed Carv to a three year term on the South Dakota Gaming Commission.

In 1972, Carv was the Republican candidate for Governor. He and his family visited 340 South Dakota towns in their Winnebago motor home as the “Carv Thompson Family Campaign” but lost the election to incumbent Governor, Richard Kneip.

Carv was very interested in the entertainment business and was the driving force in the Faith Stock Show and Rodeo to bring live entertainment to the event for 28 years, 1964 – 1992. Stars from the Grand Ole Opry to George Strait became regulars each August.

In 1976, the fairgrounds needed a new grandstand. The Committee sought a grant but when the grantors thought it should be a $250,000 government project, the local folks said, “No Way!” Faith turned down the federal money and built it themselves with all volunteer labor and $50,000 raised through national publicity and The Faith Area News. Money came from all over with letters of congratulations for rejecting the outlandish federal grant.

After his long stints with the State Fair and Faith Stock Show, Carv was hired by the Romeo Entertainment Group of Omaha to help produce concerts at fairs and festivals in 10 Midwestern states and Canada. Carv continues some of this today.

From 1973 to 1981 Carv was a volunteer with the National Muscular Dystrophy Assn. He and Marci Christensen of KEVN-TV in Rapid City, were co-emcees of the Annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. The 21 hour television events raised over $500,000 for “Jerry’s Kids” from the viewers in western South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.

In 1995, Carv volunteered to be Chairman of a committee to build a new St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Faith. The $660,000 church was completed in record time, under budget and was dedicated on March 19th, (St. Joseph’s Day) 1998.

Due to severe drought, 2006 was an unusually bad year for fires and volunteer fire departments in Western South Dakota and surrounding states.

Sturgis businessmen Gary Lippold and Cal McGinnis came to Carv to seek help in creating, organizing and producing an event to raise money for volunteer fire departments. Through their efforts and those of many people, the Black hills & Plains Volunteer Fire Departments Benefit & Appreciation Event was held Sept. 30th 2006.

A total of $164,825 was raised and was distributed to 98 fire departments in Western South Dakota and some of our neighbors in Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

Carv’s father, Odin, once told Carv to “Try to leave this world just a little bit better than you found it if you possibly can.” Not one to seek accolades, he none the less was named one of the Outstanding Young Men in America in 1965, in 1974 he received the profession of pharmacy’s highest honor, The Bowl of Hygeia Award for outstanding community service.

In 1987 Carv was the recipient of the SDSU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Service to Home Community and in 2008, the SDSU College of Pharmacy presented Carv with their Distinguished Alumnus Award for 50 years as a Registered Pharmacist. He has been recognized by other organizations and offices with many more honors.

In 2002, Carv and Margaret sold their drug stores and retired. They built a home on the Maitland Road between Spearfish and Deadwood and spend their winters at their condominium in Las Vegas.

In August of 2010, Faith community leaders came to Carv and said, “We’ve got a problem! We are building a new four million dollar school in Faith but we’ve only got three million dollars available from real estate taxes so we’d like you to come home and help us find another million dollars.” Carv agreed to be chairman of the New Faith School Fund Raising Committee.

Due to the hard work and enthusiasm of this Committee and the generosity of 745 loyal Faith people, neighbors, former residents, alumni and friends, a total of $1,170,000 was raised and the new school was completed in the summer of 2012.

Up to his passing, Carv continued to have a deep interest in Faith and the State. He said, “I feel so fortunate to have been born, raised and educated in Faith. It was a privilege to serve as much as I could and I hope that Faith and all of South Dakota will continue to prosper and be the best place in America to live and raise a family.”

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