James L. Thompson, Sr.
Jimmy Thompson grew up near Beulah, Alabama, in a family of row croppers. During high school, Thompson became aware of a different level of agriculture through the local 4-H club and Extension personnel – professionals who motivated him to achieve something more than subsistence farming.
After high school, he attended Auburn in the Army ROTC program. One quarter before graduation, he was called to service in the U.S. Army. While in training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he married Myra King, his college sweetheart. Upon completion of military service, Thompson returned to Auburn, completed his bachelor’s degree in Horticulture, and began working as the Extension 4-H specialist at Enterprise High.
Thompson soon left his Extension job and started working for Rosemont Gardens in Montgomery. During that employment, he learned all he could about the flower business, from production to retail. He also learned the importance of being honest with customers and maintaining personal confidence and integrity.
In 1950, Thompson partnered with a friend and opened Capitol Floral Company in Montgomery. Over the years, success followed, and the company blossomed from retailer to wholesaler, then grower, importer, exporter, and, finally, overseas manufacturer. A firm believer that opportunities are not opportunities until someone makes them happen, Thompson focused on his work and the integrity of the company. He had the vision and personality to step out ahead of change, allowing the business to evolve as the market changed.
Thompson was a model for growth of the green industry in Alabama and the region. He was seen as a leader in developing successful enterprises in many segments of the industry, including greenhouse, container nursery production, floral and retail plants, and landscaping. Today, the company Thompson started has expanded to include seven divisions and 350 employees in the Montgomery area and another 4,500 in Asian facilities.
Jimmy Thompson died in January 2006. He and his late wife, Myra, were married for 59 years. They are survived by two children, Martha Moore and Lamar Thompson; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.