Dr. Barry Thompson Dies

The former Texas A&M chancellor bred and raced champion Leading Spirit.

Q-Racing Journal

Dr. Barry Thompson died March 1.

Dr. Barry B. Thompson, 77, died Saturday morning, March 1, at his home near the town of West, Texas.

Dr. Thompson bred and raced AQHA Supreme Racehorse Leading Spirit, a three-time Grade 1-winning earner of $811,413 who was the champion 2-year-old gelding in 2005. By world champion Special Leader, Leading Spirit was out of Sandras Task, a Special Task mare who was foaled in 1994 and was the first American Quarter Horse bred by Dr. Thompson. In 1998, Sandras Task produced Leading Spirit’s full sister Leading Diva, an earner of $138,174 who in 2000 scored in the Manor Downs Lassie Futurity (G3) to become the first stakes winner bred by Dr. Thompson.

Since 1994, Thompson has been represented as breeder of 38 winners from 67 starters, including the stakes-winning Panther Mountain mare Panther Purr ($163,146).

Known as “Dr. T”, Dr. Thompson was the president of Tarleton State University in 1982-1990 and West Texas A&M University in 1990-94. He then was chancellor of the Texas A&M System in 1994-99, and upon his retirement as chancellor became chancellor emeritus of the A&M System. In 2001, Dr. Thompson became president emeritus at Tarleton State.

Thompson was named Chancellor of the Texas A&M System in 1994. He served in that role until his retirement in 1999 at which time the Board of Regents named him Chancellor Emeritus.

Before taking over the Texas A&M System, Thompson led two schools that are part of the system.

Thompson served as president of West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas, just south of Amarillo. He took over in 1990 after the West Texas State University regents voted to join the Texas A&M System instead of The University of Texas. One of his first actions was to cancel the football program, which returned the following year on a non-scholarship basis. During his tenure, the University increased education requirements and changed its name to West Texas A&M.
Prior to returning home to the Panhandle, Thompson was the president of Tarleton State University, which is also part of the Texas A&M System. Thompson’s eight years at the helm of Tarleton have been called one of the “most expansive eras in Tarleton history.” He helped acquire over four million dollars in funding for the school which was often overlooked by the A&M System and the Legislature. Thompson also increased enrollment to more than 6,000. In an effort to recruit more minorities, he personally visited schools beyond Tarleton’s immediate vicinity, asked African-American churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to establish scholarships for minorities and established the Office of Minority Affairs.

Dr. Thompson is survived by his wife, Sandra Sue, his childhood sweetheart with whom he had been married 58 years. He also is survived by their son Scott; son Bart and his wife, Marie, and their three daughters; and their twin daughters, Karol Wallace and her two daughters, and Kim Simbel and her husband Robert and their daughter and son.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9, in the Clyde H. Wells Auditorium on the Tarleton State University campus in Stephenville.

In lieu of flowers, memorial funds may be contributed in care of the Barry and Sandra Thompson Scholarship Fund at Tarleton State.

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