A passionate and dedicated advocate for the rights of rural communities to legal services has passed away in Coolamon at the age of 63.
Mr William (Bill) Thompson, a third-generation Coolamon solicitor who was highly-respected in his field and recognised as a strong community leader, lost his battle with Parkinson's disease this month after first being diagnosed in 2012.
He passed away at Coolamon Ganmain community hospital and is survived by his loving wife Gabrielle - who he married in 1983 - and his three children; Alexander, Jack and Charlie.
Praise has poured in for the Coolamon local, who first began his career in 1985 and continued working in Coolamon until his retirement in 2017.
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"He had successfully lobbied successive state governments for change, including the Intergenerational Stamp Duty Exemption and changes to the Centrelink assets and income test to benefit farmers," said Tammy Holzheimer, solicitor director and long-term colleague of Mr Thompson's.
"Beyond that, he has always been one to go that extra mile not just for his clients, but also for the community - ready to lend an ear, a hand and time in support in an honorary capacity in the legal field and/or as a fellow resident."
Commins Hendriks chief executive officer Phillip McIntosh said Mr Thompson will be sorely missed by his family, work colleagues - who were his second family - as well as the broader community.
"He's been an integral part of Commins Hendriks for such a long period of time," Mr McIntosh said.
"The immense respect held for Bill by the legal fraternity, both rural and metropolitan, goes without saying.
"He's been a fierce advocate for the rights of farming families and, as such, has set a huge example for all staff at Commins Hendriks to continue to follow."
Mr Thompson first joined his father Jim at the Coolamon office of Commins Thompson & Associates in 1985, and when the firm merged with Wagga-based Mortimer Hendriks Griffin & Erratt in 1991, he became a partner and later solicitor director, carrying that through to Commins Hendriks.
He specialised in succession planning for farmers and small business, and provided legal advice on a range of rural issues.
Mr Thompson was recognised as a leader in this field, his practice spanning the whole of country NSW and beyond. He was a "no fuss" solicitor, Commins Hendriks staff say, with a pragmatic approach to solving clients' issues.
He was also highly involved in the local community, as the honorary solicitor for a number of football leagues and clubs, licensed community groups, RSL sub-branches throughout the Riverina, and various other community, sporting and church organisations.
One of the reasons Mr Thompson chose to
He was also recognised locally as the Coolamon Shire citizen of the year in both 1987 and 2006, later receiving an honoured citizen award in 2020.
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