Guilford County government lost one of its most valuable, respected and loved employees this week.  Social Services Administration and Transportation Division Director Myra Thompson, who has proven invaluable to the county’s government for years in many different areas, passed away this week, causing a great deal of emotion to flow from her co-workers.

Over the decades, Thompson took on any role she was asked to tackle in county government, and she was so proficient and effective that she was given some of the hardest jobs that local government has.

When the county’s Department of Social Services was in complete and utter disarray in March 2014, facing a backlog of 8,000 applications for benefits, and the previous DSS director was forced to resign, Thompson was the one called on to come in and fix the situation and restore order to the department – which she did.

Before that, when the county’s Transportation Department was drawing a great deal of criticism, Thompson was named the head of that department in an attempt to get it on solid ground again.

Thompson, who worked in the Guilford County Budget Department before making her contributions in other areas, was assigned many other special projects over the years and was known for pulling them off no matter how great the difficulty.  She was considered to be one of the county’s most valuable assets and she spent much of her time putting out fires that others had started.

Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller, who worked for years with Thompson in Thompson’s various capacities, said it’s extremely hard to get a handle on just how important Thompson has been to the county over the course of her extensive and impressive career.

“She was the glue that held the county together,” Keller said. She added that Thompson “knew Guilford County inside and out.”

She called Thompson’s passing “a huge loss” on both a professional and personal level for Thompson’s coworkers.

According to Keller, Thompson embodied everything that one considers when they think about effective county governance: Thompson always worked together with other county employees in a positive way to find efficient solutions that were of great benefit to the citizens.

Keller also said that, on Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, she and coworkers were in tears as they looked through photos of Thompson.

Thompson’s outlook on life and attitude were so positive that many county employees didn’t even realize she’d been battling a life-threatening disease for some time –because, even under those circumstances, Thompson showed up and cheerfully did her job while maintaining her wonderful sense of humor and positive outlook on life.

The Rhino Times has covered many, many, department heads, division directors and others in Guilford County government over the years, and there is no question that, of those, Thompson ranks at the very top in all important respects.  Despite her magnificent contributions to every Guilford County citizen over the years, it is for her sparkling personality that she will be most missed.