As part of the Friday, January 20 Gulfport Arbor Day event, and in view of the trunk and branches of a new American sweetgum tree planted and named in honor of former resident “Uncle Roy” Thompson, nearly 40 children in grades first through fifth from the program at the city’s recreation center sang along with a three-piece band, “My roots go down, down to the Earth.” The event took place at Veteran’s Park, 5350 31st Ave. S., which Uncle Roy named as part of a city contest years ago.
ulfport’s annual Arbor Day celebration honored former resident “Uncle Roy” Thompson on Friday, January 20 with speeches, a sing-along and the planting of an American sweetgum tree named in his honor.
Thompson was born in Gulfport, enjoyed fishing and hunting near the bayou, and while serving in the Navy, he boxed.
He was a combination of “Gentle Ben, Daniel Boone and Mike Tyson all in one guy,” said Mayor Emeritus Michael J. Yakes. “I just admired him so much.”
As part of a city contest years ago, Thompson named Veteran’s Park where the event took place, said Councilmember Christine Brown. Brown arranged for the city to plant a tree in his honor at the event. Thompson is related to Brown’s husband, Lou Worthington, as his biological uncle.
Members of Gulfport’s Food Forest, Community Garden and Teen Council groups were present to provide tree and bush seedlings along with refreshments.
Descendants of “Uncle Roy” Thompson, a former resident, were present at Gulfport’s Arbor Day event on Friday, January 20, to celebrate the American sweetgum tree that was planted and named in his honor. Pictured from left in front of the newly planted Uncle Roy tree are: grandson Roy, son Jaimie, daughter-in-law Cheryl and granddaughter Brittney all of Myakka. “My dad used to grow a lot of trees on his property in Gulfport,” said Jaimie Thompson. “Guava, mango and peach trees. He just gave them away.” The event took place at Veteran’s Park, 5350 31st Ave. S., which Uncle Roy named as part of a city contest years ago.