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Tragedy Leads to Charity

Butler Auto Tech students pose for photo
Published: Monday, January 30th, 2017

After the Death of his Son, Andover Man Donates More than $50,000 worth of Auto Equipment to Butler Community College’s Auto Department.

 Larry Thompson of Andover traveled around the world with his son Mark Allan Thompson. Thompson held jobs in Germany, Italy, Turkey and Panama. Mark learned a variety of languages, as well as how to repair automobiles.

After his son’s untimely death, Thompson wanted to honor him with a donation of his tools to a local college. Mark, who had grown up watching his father repair autos, had become a mechanic in Mississippi.

“He was a natural,” Thompson said. “When he was a sophomore in high school and we lived in Panama he was working at a place rebuilding engines.”

It was in Panama that Thompson bought a ’68 Camaro for him and his son to rebuild. The two worked side-by-side as they changed the transmission and rebuilt the engine. Eventually, Thompson and his son came back to the U.S. Mark landed a job repairing Mercedes Benz’ and Jaguars. But at age 36, this father of two young girls developed a brain tumor. He did not live to see his 38. Thompson knew Mark’s tools were expensive. He and Mark had been adding to them for years. Thompson values them to be worth $55,000. He tried to sell them, but everyone wanted to buy one piece at a time. He wanted to keep them together. Mark Jaye, the automotive technology chair at Butler Community College reached out to Thompson. Jaye knew the value of the toolbox and wanted them for his students. Thompson was happy to donate to Butler. He had the tools shipped from Mississippi to Wichita and delivered to Butler Community College.

“It’s a miraculous donation,” Jaye said. “These specialty quality tools help our students who cannot afford to buy them.”

The automotive program at Butler offers a one year certificate. Classes run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. five days a week. An associate degree may be accomplished during the second year.





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