Ronald Tompkins, area soccer pioneer

Obituaries November 6, 2013 0 Comments

OBITPIX_Tompkins

Ronald Tompkins, 80, formerly of Flourtown, a onetime PennDOT supervisor who was a leading figure in the Philadelphia area soccer community, died Oct. 25 at Phoenixville Hospital.

Mr. Tompkins left PennDOT in 1983 as a supervisor of roads and bridges, but he was best known locally for his dedication to the game of soccer. In 1969 he was a founding member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association (EPSA), an organization that today includes 220 adult and under-19 teams and 4,400 players.

In 1971 he founded the Enfield Soccer Club in Upper Dublin, which fielded youth as well as men’s and women’s teams. Its successor, the Upper Dublin Soccer Club – which paid tribute to Mr. Tompkins at a Philadelphia Union game last season – today has more than 2,000 youth members.

Mr. Tompkins took teams to Canada 19 times, and to England and Wales four times – sometimes at his own expense.

Jim Bollinger, EPSA president, recalled that Mr. Tompkins had “subsidized the trips for many of his players from families of little means as if they were his own kids.”

“The players and coaches became his family,” Bollinger said.

Mr. Tompkins also had been a scoutmaster in Oreland from from 1959 to 1969 and took his Boy Scout troop to Canada in 1963 for a summer encampment.

Born in Wyndmoor and raised in Germantown, he was a graduate of Germantown High School. He described his childhood and teen years in Germantown in a series of essays that he later published in 1993 as “Reflections From the Known World: Growing Up in Germantown.”

A skilled artist, his subjects included architecture, soccer, portraiture and more. He made T-shirts of his favorite works, and in 1986 designed a crest for the City of Philadelphia that hung in the Mayor’s Cabinet Room during the Rendell administration.

At 74, Mr. Tompkins moved to Phoenixville, where began performing a stand-up routine in local coffee shops styled after the late Henny Youngman.

Eli Wenger, owner of the Steel City Coffee Shop, recalled Mr. Tompkins ability to connect to a younger crowd.

“He was funny,” Wenger said. “He spoke on the same level with the kids and didn’t talk down to them.

A member of the Episcopal Church for more than 60 years, Mr. Tompkins was an authority on the church’s history and liturgy. He was a member of the Anglican Church of the Transfiguration in Phoenixville and, earlier, of St. Clement’s Church in Philadelphia.

A few months before his 77th birthday, Mr. Tompkins suffered a stoke that left him partially paralyzed, unable to walk or draw. He spent the last three-and-a-half years in the Manor Care Nursing Home in King of Prussia, but would return to Phoenixville each week to visit with friends – even hosting a once-a-month storytelling night at Steel City called the “Don Ron Tompkins Story Slam.”

A memorial service for Mr. Tompkins will be announced at a later date. His remains will be interred on the grounds of Washington’s Chapel in Valley Forge – WF

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