Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Peter E. Thompson

You may be unaware and surprised to learn that Peter Elwood Thompson, Toms River High School graduate of 1959, has insinuated himself into your household and automobiles. He walks through doors with you and looks out your windows. He sees you driving around the block, as well as the dents and scratches your teenagers add to the patina of the family car. This is possible because he helped develop and apply the SMC process of production that is now used in entry doors and automobile bodies across the world.

Pete started working in fiber reinforced epoxies at the original Toms River Chemical for the Ciba Products Company where he says he was named on a few patent applications. One was for an epoxy electrical pot head for stand off insulators; another was for a storage-stable epoxy molding compound that became Ciba Pipe Systems fittings compound.

After the merger of Ciba and Geigy in the '70s and the consolidation of operations in Ardsley, New York, Pete moved to Indiana and worked for Eagle-Picher Plastics where he became Development and Applications Manager with three chemists and an SMC lab reporting to him. SMC stands for Sheet Molding Compound, a moldable fiberglass composition with industrial and automotive application. Examples include exterior body panels for cars, trucks, and agricultural tractors; architectural fiberglass entry doors, etc. and is also utilized in the food, electrical, and appliance industries. You may remember the 1990 Chevy Lumina Minivan. It was the first minivan with all SMC body panels, doors, lift hatch and roof. Other vehicles in the SMC GM-200 platform included a Pontiac (Transport), and an Olds (Silhouette) model.

As a member of the Thompson family that has roots in the original Dover Township back into the 1700s, Pete attended Toms River Elementary, Junior High School and High School, and then attended Lafayette College. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve and trained with the Platoon Leaders Class at Quantico, VA, in 1961. In high school he had four years of band and chorus, three year of All-Shore Band and Orchestra (trombone), four years of track and field, vice president of the Class of 1959, and member of the men's quartet of the legendary 1958 production of "South Pacific" ("Nothin' Like a Dame") with former Honoree Gia Prima.

Pete has pursued genealogical investigations begun when he worked for Herb Miller at Lawyers Title Insurance, as a title searcher and abstractor in the '60s. Between 1968 and 1974, he developed an interest in pipe organs, and learned much from Henry Baecker (his wife Alma Baecker was the organist and choir director the Presbyterian Church). For assisting with the dismantling of the Presbyterian pipe organ when the church moved from Washington Street to Hooper Avenue, the dismantling of the Baptist Church pipe organ and other projects, Pete was often "paid" in pipes, chests and other parts. He eventually built his own "home" pipe organ from these accumulated parts. He has been a life-long member of the NRA, a Boy Scout leader for Troop 1, Toms River, and Troop 348 Hoagland, Indiana, and sang for years in church and community choirs. He also holds a ham radio operator general class license.

His additional work history includes SMC technology development for Nan Ya Plastics, Taipei, Taiwan and Dong Yang Eagle-Picher, Incheon, Korea. Working as a consultant, he helped convince Plastpro, Inc, a Taiwanese owned U.S. Company, that they could produce entry doors in the U.S. "faster, better and cheaper" than import them from Taiwan. With Pete's input to the project, a $33,000,000 Ohio factory employing 120 was built and has delivered on that pledge. Pete is now semi-retired. Copies of his paper, "Designed Experiments in SMC Process," are available with his memorabilia.

Pete cites several Toms River school teachers for lessons learned and appreciated for a lifetime: Edith Siddons, 7th and 8th grade English; Seymour Hertzon, Mechanical Drawing; Donald Davis, Chemistry and Physics; Dorothea Lilly, Vocal Music; and Joseph Clouser, Instrumental Music.

The Toms River Hall of Fame is proud to honor Peter E. Thompson as a 2009 member of the Hall of Fame.

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