Wade F. B. Thompson, co-founder of the world’s largest RV company, Thor Industries, died November 12 at the age of 69 after a 14-year battle with cancer. His death came just days after he relinquished his positions as chairman, president and CEO of the company.
Thompson founded Thor in 1980 with Peter B. Orthwein, Thor’s vice chairman. They began by acquiring Airstream and then added other companies to create the world’s biggest RV manufacturer and a major builder of buses. The company holds the distinction of making money every year since its founding, even during 2009, a depression year for the RV industry.
Thompson, who battled five cancers, devoted the last decade of his life to helping find a cure for the disease. He founded the Drive against Prostate Cancer, was a major contributor to other cancer organizations, and financed clinical trials for melanoma and colon cancer. He also was a major donor to projects involving the arts, historic preservation and conservation.
He is survived by Angela, his wife of 42 years, two children and six grandchildren. His son-in-law, Richard E. Riegel III, is the chief operating officer of Thor Industries.