Dr. Thompson, state health officer, dies

“He was literally the face of public health in Mississippi and, in large measure, across the nation,” said Dr. Randy Easterling, president of the Mississippi State Medical Association. “With a limited budget, he was able to take on all the health problems in the poorest state in the country. It took a real passion for the sickest of the sick and the poorest of the poor to accomplish that.”

Dr. Luke Lampton, chairman of the state Board of Health, called Thompson’s death, which came at 2:25 a.m., “a great tragedy for our state.”

Thompson, 62, rose to one of the highest positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta before returning to Mississippi and leading the state Department of Health a second time.