Margaret Lee Ponder Thompson, 83, died Sept. 10, 2017, at home in Ridgeland, Miss., after a protracted illness. A native of Nashville, Ark., she was born on Jan. 17, 1934, to the late Ira and Jewell Tolleson Ponder – who were both members of pioneer Howard County families.
Margaret was the wife of Byron Damon Thompson, Sr., whom she married in January 1953 and who passed away in September 2014. She is survived by a daughter, Laura Rebecca Thompson of Ridgeland, Miss.; two sons – Marshall Ray Thompson II of Flower Mound, Texas, and Byron Damon Thompson, Jr., of Washington, DC; two daughters-in-law – Missy Silzer Thompson of Flower Mound, Texas, and Lisa Mullins Thompson of Washington, DC; two grandchildren: Laura Catherine Thompson of Dallas, Texas, and Robert Byron Thompson of San Francisco, Calif.; and close friend Carol Melton of Canton, Miss. In addition to her parents and her husband, she was preceded in death by a brother, Hollis Ponder.
Margaret graduated from Nashville High School In 1951, and entered Henderson State Teachers College in Arkadelphia, Ark., that same year. She interrupted her education to marry Byron, who was then a basketball coach at Saratoga, Ark. (and later became manager of the Ideal Cement Plant in Okay, Ark.) She had met him while playing basketball for Nashville High School against her future husband’s team. As she put it: “I saw that good-looking man walk in the gym carrying his clipboard, and I said to myself, ‘That’s the one!’”
Twenty-five years and three children later, with all offspring away at college, Margaret resumed her own education – first while commuting from Okay, Ark., to Henderson in Arkadelphia. Following moves to Denver, Colo., and Mobile, Ala., she and Byron retired in Little Rock, Ark., where at the age of 60 she received a Bachelor of Science in Writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Margaret was a member of the Arkansas Pioneer Branch of the National League of Pen Women, and published two oral histories of her beloved Howard County: one about Okay entitled “A Village in Time,” and one about Nashville entitled “A Peach of a Place.”
She was a member of Sunset Church of Christ in Nashville, Windsong Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Ark., the Mine Creek Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Nashville Literary Club, and was a life member of the Nashville Junior Auxiliary. She served as president of the Saratoga-Okay PTA, as the first woman in Howard County ever appointed to serve on the board of the Farmers Home Administration, as Coordinator of the 1970 Decennial Census in Howard County, and as Howard County Republican Committeewoman during the administration of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.
In Denver, she was a member of the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary and worked as Student Affairs Director for the College of Financial Planning.
A family graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, at Nashville Cemetery. Visitation will take place at 1 p.m. at Latimer Funeral home in Nashville, followed by a 2 p.m. memorial service there. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Children’s Homes, Inc., of Paragould, Ark. (http://www.childrenshomes.org/).