Rosewood-Kellum Funeral Home & Rosewood Memorial Park
601 North Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach, VA
October 22, 1939 – October 31, 2019
Jerry Tompkins of Virginia Beach died on Thurs., Halloween, Oct. 31, 2019. He had just recently celebrated his 80th birthday and had watched the Nationals win their first World Series the previous day.
For the past two years, he had lived at the Waterford on Wesleyan Drive, while he previously lived in Haygood Point and Lake Smith Terrace in Virginia Beach for over 50 years.
Born in Bartlesville, OK, he moved around the United States with his parents Harold and Evelyn Elizabeth (“Liz”) Tompkins as the Navy moved his Chief father through various commands, eventually settling in Norfolk.
He graduated from Norview High School and attended what later became Old Dominion University, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 1962.
He worked for the Norfolk public school system as an art educator and eventually an art history specialist. He also worked for many years as an adjunct assistant professor for Old Dominion University’s College of Arts and Letters where he also received his Master’s degree. He married the former Martha E. Jones in 1962, and together they had two sons, K. Todd Tompkins and Scott Taylor Tompkins.
Jerry was passionate about art and art history. He had a touch of what visual artists would call “horror vacui” (literally, “fear of blank spaces”), and he covered nearly every square inch of the walls and any horizontal surfaces of his houses first on Miles Standish Road and then on De-La Fayette Court with art of his own making and art in which he was interested. He worked in multiple media—oils, watercolors, chalk and especially photography—and avidly collected sculpture and pottery. He enjoyed sharing discussions of art with those who visited him.
He won numerous professional awards, including Virginia Art Educator of the Year 1995. He was very proud of his involvement with the Lake Smith Terrace, Haygood Point and Governor Square Civic League over the past decade, as well as the Virginia Art Education Association (VAEA). He was also a great lover of music, especially jazz in its many forms.
He is survived by his two sons and their wives, Kelly McCool and Wendy Tompkins; two grandchildren, Taylor and Sierra Tompkins; and Martha Tompkins.
A celebration of life will be held on Sat., November 16, 2019 at 4:00 PM at the Virginia Beach Art Center (VBAC) at 532 Virginia Beach Blvd, VA 23451 (the purple building), followed by a light reception also at VBAC. You may offer condolences to the family at www.kellumfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages a donation to your local school art program or museum, such as the ODU College of Arts and Letters (https://www.odu.edu/al) or the Chrysler Museum of Art (https://chrysler.org/support/#2).
- A Celebration of Life Saturday, November 16, 2019
November 15, 2019
Jerry was just enough older than me to be able to drive me here and there when I was an adolescent. His very dry sense of humor was also something I appreciated. His love for art, which I share, energized him and those with whom he conversed. I will be making a donation to our Arlington Virginia Center for the Arts to celebrate his life. I think he would be very excited about the programs they are offering and all who are enriched by taking classes, creating, or admiring the work of others.
November 14, 2019
Dear Martha, Todd and Scott,
I was so very sorry to hear of Jerry’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with him for many years. He was always so upbeat, positive and had such a keen sense of humor. He was a loyal friend and awesome colleague. He lived and breathed the arts and love sharing his passion for the arts with anyone he met. Please know that he will be deeply missed, but I know that his love of life and the arts will live on through all of those that he touched during his lifetime.
November 14, 2019
I was so sorry to hear the news of Jerry's passing. Jerry was my cousin and a wonderful part of our Tompkins family. Although he was several years older than me, he was always warm and supportive whenever I saw him. When I was in grade school, Jerry would occasionally come to one of my (and my future husband Robert's) classes to teach us about art and art history. It was very cool to have an "art expert" visit our classes that also happened to be related to me. I told every single kid I knew about that and it made me very proud! He was a wonderful teacher and it was always a real treat when he visited. I can only imagine how many children he taught over the years. I am sure some of them could trace their love of art back to Jerry. We have all lost a very kind man but he has left us with some wonderful memories..... Lana Hurdle (Troy's Daughter #4)
November 13, 2019
I was so sorry to hear the news of Gerry's passing. Gerry was my cousin and a wonderful part of our Tompkins family. Although he was several years older than me, he was always warm and supportive whenever I saw him. When I was in grade school, Gerry would occasionally come to one of my (and my future husband Robert's) classes to teach us about art and art history. It was very cool to have an "art expert" visit our classes that also happened to be related to me. I told every single kid I knew about that and it made me very proud! He was a wonderful teacher and it was always a real treat when he visited. I can only imagine how many children he taught over the years. I am sure some of them could trace their love of art back to Gerry. We have all lost a very kind man but he has left us with some wonderful memories..... Lana Hurdle (Troy's Daughter #4)
November 9, 2019
I did not know Jerry Tompkins personally, but Martha Tompkins was my teacher in the 5th and 6th grade at Lafayette Elementary School. I vividly remember Mr. Tompkins dropping her off at school each morning in a little white sports car. My sympathy to his family.
Brad and Marsha Granberry
November 8, 2019
Brad is Jerry’s cousin and we got to meet your whole family only once when we came East to visit Lib, Harold and “big granny”. What a nice visit. As a music teacher I could not have been more impressed that Jerry had been Art Educator of the year for an entire state. What an honor. You are all so lucky to have pieces of his art work as your inheritance and his legacy. Think of all the lives he touched.
November 7, 2019
I was Jerry's fraternity brother at The Norfolk College of William & Mary (later, Old Dominion). Over all these years, I still remember his good humor and ever-present smile. Jerry always had the respect of our TIGA Fraternity brothers - as well as all our classmates. Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.
I have attached a photo of our Fraternity members, with Jerry in his "signature" bow tie. I hope this will add to your memories.