Robert Thomson Obituary, Death – Robert L. Thomson, a prominent Iowa businessman and philanthropist, passed away on September 15, 2023, at the age of 97. Known for his innovative spirit and business acumen, Thomson left a lasting legacy in the business world. Thomson’s entrepreneurial journey began with the acquisition of a struggling chain of Ben Franklin stores, which he transformed into Iowa’s largest collection of Subway restaurants. Later in life, in his 80s, he ventured into the development of Pancheros Mexican Grills in the Minneapolis market, a project he was actively working on until his passing.
Born on March 27, 1926, in Winona, Minnesota, Thomson’s early life was marked by service in the United States Navy during World War II. He pursued higher education at the University of Minnesota, becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree in Business Administration. Thomson’s achievements extended beyond business, as he was involved in various activities, including his membership in Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and his love for classical music.
In the business world, Thomson made significant contributions, particularly through innovations like real-time inventory monitoring using tally sheets and computers, which became standard practice in American retail. He also established the Allen Travel Agency and later introduced Subway restaurants to Iowa. Thomson was known for his philanthropic endeavors, often contributing anonymously to charities, educational institutions, and various causes. He was actively involved in the local community, serving as president of organizations like the YMCA and the Lions Club. Additionally, he played a role in Iowa’s economic initiatives and participated in crucial trade delegations to Europe during the Cold War.
Thomson’s colorful personality, sharp wit, and strong principles were evident in his interactions with others. His generosity, both in business and charitable giving, left a lasting impact on those who knew him. He is survived by his sister, Marian, his companion Margaret Jensen, three of his four children, Peter, Molly, and Charley, his daughter-in-law Christine Hollister Thomson, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for September 25, 2023, at Immaculate Conception Church in Charles City, with burial at Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will take place on September 24, with a Rosary ceremony and the request that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to a charity of the donor’s choice. Robert L. Thomson’s legacy will be remembered for his contributions to business and his commitment to making a positive impact on the world.