In his nearly 50 years of service to Traverse City, Jim Tompkins was always motivated by “what was best for the city and the people who live here,” said longtime neighbor and former city commissioner Ann Rogers. Tompkins died last week at 81. His wife Ida survives.
Jim and Ida Tompkins were Traverse City’s “power couple” (Traverse City Area Public Schools’ administration building is named for her) whose power came through service.
Jim Tompkins began work for the city as an assistant property appraiser in 1965 and was promoted to city clerk in 1976. He was clerk for 13 years until he stepped down in 1989; he spent the next 12 years on the city commission, including three stints as mayor in 1991, 1995, and 1999. The Tompkins became the first couple inducted into the Traverse City Central High School Hall of Fame in 2007.
Jim Tompkins was a friend and adviser to community leaders and city commissioners, including former Commissioner Scott Hardy and Commissioner Jim Carruthers.
“Jim (Tompkins) knew this community better than anybody I ever met,” Hardy said. “At his core he cared a lot more about this city than he did about a political career.”
Even after his long service to the city, Ida Tompkins said her husband was most proud of his service in the U.S,. Air Force.
“He was proud of this city, proud of this state, but most of all he was proud to be an American,” she said.