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John Thompson Jr. Example for Son as Good Citizen

John Thompson Jr. and Dennis Owen

Former Georgetown University Alumni Association President Dennis Owen (SFS'51) attended former Men's Head Basketball Coach John Thompson Jr.'s Citizen of the Year Award ceremony at Syracuse University last year.

June 30, 2011 – As Head Basketball Coach John Thompson III prepares his team to go to China in August, Georgetown is celebrating the anniversary of his father receiving a highly unusual accolade – a Citizen of the Year Award from a rival university.

Exactly one year ago today a little publicized event took place at Syracuse University. Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse head basketball coach, presented John Thompson Jr. with a local synagogue’s Citizen of the Year Award.

The elder Thompson posted 24 consecutive post-season appearances and led Georgetown to a National Championship in 1984.

Unusual Event

Dennis Owen (SFS’51), who created Georgetown’s Club of Syracuse in 1962, attended the ceremony along with other members of the club.

“This was one of the most unusual events in the sports world – no one in Syracuse could believe that the coach of Syracuse – Jim Boeheim – honored John Thompson,” says Owen, a former president of the Georgetown University Alumni Association. “But he’s the one who stood up and said, ‘This is a great man.’ ”

Charity and China

The son has followed in his father’s footsteps, running the John Thompson III Basketball School and the John Thompson III Foundation, which works to aid community-based charities that serve at-risk children and families.

This year, former Georgetown men’s basketball All-Americans and current NBA standouts Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green each sponsored a camper for this summer's basketball school, which ran June 26-29 on campus.

JTIII, as he is known, will help enhance Georgetown’s global presence later this summer when the men’s basketball team tours China to participate in a range of athletic, educational and cultural activities during a two-week tour.

During the trip, the Hoyas will play a series of three or four exhibition games against yet to be determined teams.

Family Reunions

Owen, who has served Georgetown in eight different volunteer positions, including on the board of directors, has been a member of the Club of Syracuse since he founded it in 1963.

The father of eight children, he recently celebrated his 60th reunion at Georgetown while daughter Eileen Nelson (B’86) marked her 25th reunion and grandson Christopher Owen (B’06) celebrated his 5th reunion on campus earlier this month.

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