Ed Thompson loved an extreme workout. He enjoyed running, playing basketball and cycling.He often rode his bike to work -- a 17-mile trip each way from his Mansfield home to his job at the Fort Worth Transportation Authority as a maintenance analyst.So it only seemed natural that 45-year-old Thompson would train to be a triathlete. The only problem was that Thompson wasn't historically a good swimmer. He began swimming in 2009 and trained in the water four to five times a week for three years. He was trying to improve his swimming conditioning when he drowned the evening of Aug. 20 in Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie."I don't think he had an ounce of fat on his body," said Ron Anderson, the T's assistant vice president for maintenance. Although they are from different generations, the two men had known each other since Thompson began working at the T at age 18, shortly after completing a diesel mechanics class offered at Trimble Technical High School."A couple of years ago, he said, 'I'm going to try out for a triathlon.' I said, 'Ed, don't you have to learn how to swim?' And he said he was going to start lessons that week," Anderson remembered. "He set his goals and then he went after them."Thompson possessed natural management skills, co-workers said. He had moved up in the organization, where he was considered a strong candidate for an assistant vice president position.Thompson was a devoted family man who spoke frequently of his wife, Regina, his 4-year-old daughter, Eden, and 1-year-old son, Edward, said T executive vice president Tony Johnson. He sometimes showed co-workers videos of his children on his phone.On Aug. 20, Thompson went to Joe Pool Lake to swim, officials said. His wife called police that night after he hadn't returned home by 9 p.m. She went to the lake and found Thompson's car locked with his cellphone and wallet inside, police said.Searchers combed the lake until early Wednesday morning, when a crew recovered his body about 30 to 40 yards from the Lynn Creek Park swimming area.His death is being treated as an accident, said Grand Prairie police detective Lyle Gensler. An autopsy found no medical conditions and concluded that his death was caused by accidental drowning, a family member said.Although the T used diesel-burning buses when Thompson began working there as a mechanic in the 1980s, the agency converted its fleet to compressed natural gas. Thompson became an expert on that alternative fuel source.When well-known oil and gas magnate T. Boone Pickens visited the T a few years ago to celebrate the agency's 25th anniversary and advocate for more cities to embrace natural gas, Pickens met Thompson and was impressed with his knowledge of CNG buses, T spokeswoman Joan Hunter said.Thompson's job included keeping a big-picture eye on how well the T kept its bus fleet running. He watched for trends in how the vehicles were maintained, repaired and modified, with an emphasis on preventative maintenance.Before he became interested in competing in a triathlon, Thompson was an avid weightlifter and motorcyclist. He also was proud of his restored 1961 Chevy pickup.He was motivated to take to the water after watching his wife, who was not a good swimmer until 2008, compete in a triathlon in Galveston in 2009.But while he pushed his body to its limits, he didn't take unnecessary chances that would compromise his safety, his wife said. When he rode his bike, he stayed on less congested streets and rode when traffic was light."Ed was overly cautious. I would be the riskier one," Regina Thompson, his wife of nearly eight years, said. "He would swim in the pool, but he would also swim in the lake two or three times a week. He was very methodical. For three years every single day, it was about overcoming and conquering the swim."He also loved to travel, especially by car. The family visited Branson, Mo., Disneyland and many other sites, his wife said.Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796Twitter: @gdickson
Ed Thompson, 1967-2012
Funeral for Ed Thompson will be 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Crossroads Christian Church, 6450 S. Texas 360 in Grand Prairie.
A family gathering will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Mansfield Funeral Home for those unable to attend the funeral.
More: Mansfield Funeral Home, 817-453-3009.