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Remembering “Coach” Allen Thompson’s legacy of music in Binghamton

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Allen Thompson first found his love for music at the New England Music camp in Maine. From there, he carried that to college at Ithaca, where his influence on music in New York began to take shape.

“We were in college together. We played in band until Walter Bailer. Then we went our separate ways and then I came to Binghamton in ’62 and Al was already here then,” said retired Binghamton City School District music teacher and former colleague of Thompson’s, Conrad Ross.

Thompson was heavily involved in concerts and orchestra groups throughout Binghamton. His biggest impact was felt in the Binghamton City School District, where he taught for 35 years.

Students called him “Coach” for all the help he gave them on all aspects of life, and many never forgot that.

“I know my sisters and I have been absolutely amazed with how many people have reached out. When he was still here they would reach out and visiting from California, they’d come to see him. Friends from Maine would come to see him,” said Thompson’s daughter, Wendi Stetson.

“We had some former students with us here at IHOP a couple of weeks ago and they had a lot of fond memories of him. So, he was a big influence,” said Ross.

His passion for teaching spread to his five daughters as well, so much so that Stetson is exactly where her dad was all those years ago.

“When I was hired for Binghamton, we actually worked together as colleagues for 3 years. So that was very exciting. To know that he worked at MacArthur for quite a few years and this is where I am, it’s been a really amazing journey,” said Stetson.

Thompson made an impact on those he taught with his passion —

“Hopefully they’ll be able to feed back on those thoughts and he helped a lot of people have that feeling that the arts are very important,” said Stetson.

— and it’s a passion that will continue to be passed on at MacArthur and beyond.

Many of Thompson’s former students and colleagues still gather on Fridays to talk, catch up, and share their love for the thing that brought them all together, music.

Damon Matson

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