“She hath done what she could,” the gospel of Mark records of another woman in another time. The phrase can also be used to aptly describe Lenora Thompson.
She supported her husband in his work with the church, she reared her children in the faith, she took a job outside her home to help provide for her family. Now, with those primary tasks completed, Mrs. Lenora Thompson is doing what she can to help future preachers’ wives.
Mrs. Thompson has established a charitable gift annuity on her life; proceeds from the annuity will be used to establish a scholarship fund. She has also named the scholarship fund as the beneficiary of her estate. Those scholarships, at her request, are to help the wives of “preacher students” go to school.
Lenora Parrish heard the gospel when she was in her early twenties and helped convert her future husband, R.C. Beginning in sales for an insurance company, he worked his way up to regional manager, but the couples’ life was about to change. About six years after becoming Christians, they decided they would forgo the comfortable life they had built for themselves and he would pursue a career as a preacher.
Lenora Thompson joined the work force in the 1960’s to augment the family budget, an uncommon move for a preacher’s wife at the time. She began as a cook in a dress factory and worked her way up to management.
Married for almost 61 years, the couple worked together in the ministry for 50 years, mostly in the Southern Illinois area. For the last six or seven years, he worked with the Gospel Advocate, holding seminars for mostly small churches. “I think he did some of his best work then,” Mrs. Thompson said.
Although R.C. wanted very much to attend Freed-Hardeman, the lack of scholarships and campus jobs made it impossible. The couple’s three children, Sue Darby, Barbara Falkenheim, and Eddie Thompson, however, all attended Freed-Hardeman. Five of their seven grandchildren attended Freed-Hardeman. In addition, when R.C. heard of someone from Southern Illinois who wanted to attend, he drove all over the country to raise funds to help send them. “I believe it was well over 20 students he helped in that way,” she said.
Small wonder then, that Lenora Thompson wants to continue that legacy. “This is not a big gift by some standards; they were not wealthy people,” Eddie Thompson said. “But it’s a big gift for her because it will help young preachers’ wives and she’s so excited.”
She continues to do what she can.