STELLARTON — It was a rare opportunity last Thursday to honour an accomplished athlete and employee when Leonard Thompson’s No. 39 was officially retired at Proudfoot’s Home Hardware Building Centre in Stellarton.
The number signifies the 39 years he worked with the building centre’s locations in New Glasgow and Pictou before his last years at the new location in the Albion Business Park.
“He was a farm boy, but he was the perfect guy starting off in plumbing,” co-owner Jim Proudfoot said. “The main thing Leonard could do is connect with people. We saw it today. He’s always been there for us, and he’s very much a gentleman.”
Thompson grew up in Plymouth and began playing volleyball at East Pictou Rural High School under coach Keith Melanson in 1973. He was in Grade 12 and captained the Blue Eagles in 1976 when they won the provincial high school championship.
Melanson was coach of Nova Scotia’s 1975 Canada Games men’s team that barely missed winning a medal in Lethbridge, Alta.
“I was lucky to be picked by him,” Thompson said.
Thompson played volleyball for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and remembers meeting one of Canada’s greatest volleyball players, Garth Pischke, who was a Grade 12 student when he played for the men’s Olympic team at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal.
“He was one of the 10 best volleyball players in the world,” he said. “I got to play against him for St. FX. I could not believe how good he was. A basketball net is 10 feet high and the backboard is 12 feet high. He stood 6’2” and he could hit 12 feet.”
Now 61, Thompson was 50 before he started coaching. He now lives in Truro and is coaching the Truro Junior High School team there.
He is also an inductee in the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame as a volleyball athlete.
Leonard Thompson’s No. 39 was officially retired at Proudfoot’s Home Hardware Building Centre where he worked for 39 years before his recent retirement. From the left, front row: co-owner Joe Proudfoot, Thompson’s grandson Cal MacDonald, co-owner Jim Proudfoot and employee Justin Fisher, who unveiled the banner. Back row: Barry Trenholm, Leonard Thompson, Jim Sears and co-owner Kendall Proudfoot. (Goodwin photo)