State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson Remembered as Medical Statesman, Outstanding Public Health Leader

December 1, 2009
This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

JACKSON, Miss. – State Health Officer Dr. F.E. "Ed" Thompson died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.

Dr. Thompson served as State Health Officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) from 1993 to 2002 and was named Interim State Health Officer in July 2007. He was later reappointed to the permanent position of State Health Officer in December 2007. Dr. Thompson also served as State Epidemiologist from 1983 to 1993.

In an emergency Mississippi State Board of Health meeting this morning, State Epidemiologist and Deputy State Health Officer for Medicine and Science Dr. Mary Currier was unanimously appointed Interim State Health Officer effective immediately. The Board resolution naming Dr. Currier Interim State Health Officer states that Dr. Currier will have the full authority of the State Health Officer position, as provided by law, until such time as the Board takes further action. The Board will discuss the process of searching for a permanent replacement at its regularly scheduled January meeting.

During the October 2009 Mississippi State Board of Health meeting, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution requesting that the legislature name the new public health laboratory the "F. E. Thompson, Jr. Public Health Laboratory."

"The loss of Dr. Ed Thompson this morning is a great tragedy for our state. We've lost a gifted and extraordinary leader in his prime, who still had much to contribute. His seasoned leadership of the department during two critical time periods should be remembered with appreciation by the state's citizens," said Mississippi State Board of Health Chairman Dr. Lucius "Luke" Lampton.

"On behalf of the Board and the Mississippi State Department of Health, I want to express our extraordinary sadness and extend our deepest sympathies and most sincere regrets to his wife and children.The Board and Dr. Thompson prepared for this sad day and the Department will continue to operate smoothly, despite this irreplaceable loss."

Newly appointed Interim State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier said the agency has been extremely fortunate to have had the leadership of Dr. Ed Thompson for the past two and a half years.

"Public health was his passion; we at the agency, and the state as a whole, benefited from his knowledge and wisdom. He was my mentor, I will miss him greatly, and my heart goes out to Dr. Thompson's wife Marsha and the rest of his family."

Currier continued, "Through Dr. Thompson's leadership, MSDH has made significant strides in addressing several key health concerns such as infant mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and increasing the number of public health field staff. He also played a key role in obtaining funding and starting the current construction of the new Public Health Laboratory."

The National Association of Local Boards of Health recently recognized and awarded Dr. Thompson as the outstanding health officer in the United States. At its Joint Legislative Budget Committee, a resolution was passed commending and congratulating Dr. Thompson for the National Association of Local Boards of Health award.

Dr. Thompson is also the former Chief of Public Health Practice and Deputy Director for Public Health Services for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and served as both a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, and Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases.

Arrangements for Dr. F. E. "Ed" Thompson are pending. The entire agency mourns the loss of a great leader and friend.

Dr. Thompson receives the 2008 Presidential Meritorious Service Award from the national Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Dr. Thompson received the Health Officer of the Year Award from the National Association of Local Boards of Health in 2009.

Dr. Thompson addresses Mississippi State Department of Health staff after his reappointment as State Health Officer in 2007.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier and Dr. Thompson prepare a 2009 flu vaccination television campaign.

Dr. Thompson and Board Chairman Luke Lampton meet with Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson in 2008.

Flags fly at half mast at the MSDH central office in Jackson.

My condolences go out to Dr. Thompson's family. He was a unique individual who loved his life, his family, and his state. I think of him often and his courage during his battle. He is greatly missed.
Mary Williams, Jackson, MS

May God be with Dr. Thompson and his Family. We appreciate all his good work in the health field.
E. Knight, LPNII Fayette, Miss.

In meeting Dr. Thompson in my years with the State Dept. of Health he was the original of them all, never met a stranger. Will be missed.

The agency's main light has been darkened, but his legacy/spirt will forever shine in the hearts of MSDH employees. Dr. Thompson was always pleasant and showed a passion for his love - public health. It is my prayer that God will provide comfort to the family and abundant blessings. Bobbie B. Brantley, Personnel Officer V, Human Resources

I've known Dr. Thompson since I came to work at the Health Department in 1987, several years before he first became State Health Officer, and he was without question one of the smartest people I have ever been around. In meetings with him, I was often struck by how quickly he could grasp complicated issues and then discuss them logically and rationally. He could have been very intimidating but, instead, he always put everyone around him at ease and listened to what they had to say with interest and respect. With his distinctive voice and calm, easy eloquence, he exuded confidence and engendered in his listeners a sense that everything was under control, even in very difficult circumstances. Speaking of his voice and eloquence, I always thought he would have been a great broadcaster if he hadn't chosen to be a doctor!
Benny Farmer, Accountant/Auditor IV Professional Finance & Accounts

It was an honor to work under Dr. Ed Thompson. I started at MSDH in the Communications and Public Relations in 1999 and everyday enjoyed learning something new about public health from him. He was a true public health practitioner and advocate for the people of MIssissippi. I will miss him sorely, as will many people who knew him. My heart goes out to Marsha and his family and the MSDH family during this time.
Kelly Shannon Bilbo
(former Special Projects Officer/Media Relations Rep, MSDH) Jackson, MS Convention & Visitors Bureau, PR & Communications Manager

I had the privilege of working under Dr. Thompson during his first tenure as State Health Officer. I was glad when I heard that he had returned and to see how he brought respect back to the agency with his leadership. My sympathies to his family and also those who enjoyed working with him on a daily basis. Les Fortenberry (former graphic designer for MSDH) Missouri Department of Conservation, Jeff City, MO

The thing that struck me most about Dr. Thompson was the way he acknowledged people. Whether you saw him at the Central Office or at your specific county location, he always took time to engage the person and not the position. He listened not just with his ears but with his heart. If it was within his power to help, he did so willingly. My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, children and extended family during this time of sorrow. Proverbs: 3:5-7 is always a source of comfort for me and I hope it will be for you at this time as well. With Deepest Sympathy,
Irene C. Ealy, OM IV
Scott County Health Department

He will be greatly missed.

Friends and family will always remember the great qualities he possessed and his many accomplishments. He never met a stranger and was always the Optimist! He looked for the best in all of his endevours and contributed to making the world around us a better place. He would flash that great smile of his and with a twinkle in his blue eyes you would know everything was right in the world. He may not always agree with you, but he did so kindly and conveyed to you even a better way to go. I worked with him as an employee at the Mississippi State Department of Health and later served with him on a committee at The University of Mississippi Medical Center. I was a better person in having met Dr. Thompson and he will be missed. My condolences go to his family and all of the people who knew him as they feel his loss. Respectfully,
Tommy Casey, Manager Institutional Review Board, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Dr. Thompson was a great public health practitioner and leader at both the state and the national levels. He is very well respected by public health workers across this country. I have been asked about him everywhere I travel. He was a leader in establishing the idea for public health quality and performance improvement. The entire public health community will miss him.

On behalf of the Public Health Accreditation Board of Directors and the staff, we offer our sincere sympathy to the Mississippi State Department of Health staff and to Dr. Thompson's family.
Kaye Bender, President and CEO
Public Health Accreditation Board
Alexandria, VA

My life has been extraordinarily blessed and enriched to have crossed paths with Dr. Ed Thompson's life. Dr. Thompson brought a joy to living, a smile and sense of humor in daily life, an exceptional leadership capacity valued in Mississippi and nationally, and a dedication to the field of public health science and practice. Dr. Thompson has touched many, many lives through his preventive and public health prioitities; many will never realize it was his touch that improved the quality and length of life for so many Mississippi citizens.

I am missing him at this very moment and have shared my quiet thoughts with him this evening. Special thoughts and prayers are extended to his wife Marsha and his children; he so loved his family. He was also devoted to the family of MSDH staff members who have loved and appreciated this dear man.
Margaret Morton, Field Services

The Department of Health has suffered a great loss. My prayers and thoughts go out to Dr. Thompson's family. He will be greatly missed.
Candace Farmer, Adams County WIC

My Prayers and condolences go out to his wife Marsha and his children. Dr. Thompson will be greatly missed. His greatest passion was public health. Look to the hills where all you help comes from, it comes from the Lord. Rest in Peace, Dr. Thompson.
Paula Pendleton, Office Manager III Clinton, MS

What a great loss for me personally and as an employee of the Mississippi State Department of Health. Dr. Thompson always made each of us feel that we were a valuable part of the agency. He will be missed by the entire state of Mississippi. We at Copiah County Health Department will keep his family and our agency in our prayers.
Judy Izard, Office Manager III, Copiah County Health Department


  • M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University
    School of Hygiene and Public Health
  • M.D., University of Mississippi
    School of Medicine
  • B.A., Millsaps College


  • American Board of Preventive Medicine
    Public Health and General Preventive Medicine
    Board Certified
    1991 – present
  • Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure
    Licensed for medical practice
    1979 – present


  • Professor of Medicine
    University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson, MS
    2006 – present
  • Senior Advisor to the Director for Health Promotion
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
    2006 – 2007
  • Member, Advisory Committee to the Director
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
    2000 – 2002
  • Member, Secretary's Council on Public Health Preparedness
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
  • State Health Officer
    Mississippi State Department of Health
  • Member, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
    1992 – 1996
  • State Epidemiologist
    Mississippi State Department of Health


  • American Medical Association
  • American Public Health Association
  • Mississippi State Medical Association
  • Mississippi Public Health Association
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Last reviewed on Dec 1, 2009
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