In honor of his late wife, Air Force veteran and Troy University alumni Henry Thompson established the Nadyne Tisdale Thompson Endowed Scholarship for Military Dependents at Troy University to continue their goal of helping students receive an education.
Thompson and Nadyne first met at church in 1956 while he was enrolled at the University of Oklahoma and she had recently been transferred with her father to Tinker Air Force Base. In November of that year, he left college to join the Air Force.
While on a two-week leave after graduating from basic training, he and Nadyne had their first date after being set up on a group outing to a park and a zoo with a young couple from their church.
“That was our first date, and I still have our pictures that we took out at the park on that day in 1956,” he said. “I had a week from that point until I was going to be leaving for Okinawa. Every evening during that week I was with Nadyne. I told her we’re gonna have to get married and she says, ‘I can’t, I’m just 16.’ I said I’d be back.”
Thompson left her his ring and shipped off to Okinawa for 18 months. After arriving back to town, he went to church that first Wednesday night and spoke with her mother. Nadyne was working and missed the night service.
“The story is that when she went home, her mother told her I was at church that night and she says, ‘Well, what’s that to me?’ and her mother says, ‘Well, I think he was gonna come by and see you’ and she says, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” he recalled. “And I did. By nine o’clock, I was at her house knocking on the door.”
The families mingled after the service like always, and the pair went for a drive at the end of the night. After that night, they set their wedding date.
After their wedding in 1959, the pair went back to Thompson’s duty station at England Air Force Base in Louisiana until 1960 when his four years with the Air Force was up. Civilian life didn’t agree with him, so he rejoined the Air Force in 1961 and the couple was stationed at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi until 1964.
During that time, Thompson’s job shifted from security to finance and accounting and he began taking correspondence courses at night offered through the base’s education office and the Mississippi State College for Women.
“It sounds a little unusual, but that’s what the transcript says,” he laughed.
The next duty station was Chanute Aire Force Base in Illinois for a year before Thompson had to leave Nadyne behind for a year-long tour in Vietnam at Tuy Hoa Airbase. After returning, the couple transferred to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, where he began taking accounting classes at night through TROY.
Thompson had to take another break from classes when he was sent to Sondrestrom Airbase in Greenland for a year. He returned to Maxwell’s Gunter Annex in 1971 and graduated from TROY with honors in 1972.
He officially retired from the Air Force in 1978 and began a new career into the cost accounting field at a manufacturing facility in Montgomery. Twelve years later, he joined the State of Alabama State Treasurer’s Office where he served for 10 years as the accountant for the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program. He retired from the state office in 2000, and they moved onto their tree farm north of Prattville, Alabama in Autauga County. In 2017, they sold part of the 50-acre farm and relocated to Georgia.
While in Autauga County, Nadyne worked with the Autauga County Historic Society and was also a rural census taker in 1970. She volunteered in the community teaching about forestry and conservation efforts and serving as Den Mother for the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, was active in her churches singing in the choir and making Wednesday night suppers and loved gardening and cooking for her family: two sons, several grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Thompson and Nadyne had long been making monthly donations to TROY for Troops when she passed earlier this year. Sometime after her death, he received information about the perpetual scholarship program and decided this was the perfect way to honor his wife and their shared commitment to education.
“I thought, ‘Well, that’s what we wanna do,’” he said. “This was her retirement fund. That was the reason that I went to TROY to begin with, you know, to get an education to have a career and be able to retire after the military.”
The scholarship is available to dependents of active duty servicemembers or military veterans.
“The goal is to assist ones that need some financial help. The ones that need it, that $1,000 can be a game changer,” he said. “Kids today are having to get into something that they probably never will be able to pay back. It’s just something that we saw as our goal, to be able to provide (our kids) a college education because I know what it took for me to get a college education.
“I’d have never got there if it hadn’t been for my wife.”
For more information on establishing a scholarship at Troy University, please contact the Office of Development at (334) 670-3297.
Recipients will be selected by the Troy University Scholarship Committee and will be required to write a letter of appreciation to the donor and are encouraged to attend the Scholarship Donor and Recipient Reception. Scholarships will be awarded for one year only beginning in the Fall semester, but recipients may reapply the following year.