Mahlon Mason Thompson, age 97, died peacefully on Saturday, October 16th, 2021 in Plainsboro, NJ, surrounded by his loving family. Mahlon was a devoted and caring father, grandfather, husband, brother, member of the church, and community leader.
Born on September 9, 1924 in Trenton, NJ to Harold Thompson and Verna Emma Mason, Mahlon was the youngest of two children and was preceded in death by his brother, Harold Wilbur Thompson (d. 1991).
Mahlon graduated Trenton High School in 1942 and worked at General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division before entering the service. From the spring of 1943 to the fall 1945, Mahlon served as a U.S. Army Infantryman with the 34th Division (“Red Bull”) during World War II in the European Theatre, after which he received with Honorable Discharge the European-African Middle Eastern Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Mahlon also received four Bronze Service Stars for the campaigns of Naples-Foggia, North Apennines, Po Valley, and Rome-Arno. After Mahlon returned from Italy, he attended Dickenson College where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta and studied Economics.
From an early age, Mahlon was drawn to collecting and restoring cars, and they soon became his cherished passion. Mahlon dedicated his free time to classic and antique cars, and over his lifetime, Mahlon owned nearly 70 cars. At 17, Mahlon purchased his first solely owned car – a 1931 Ford Model A for which he paid $15.00. After returning from the war, Mahlon fondly remembered driving his then 1935 Ford Coupe to Philadelphia and spending the day on Broad Street buying and selling cars. Mahlon traveled home that day with a 1937 Plymouth convertible, which he referred to as his “Grey Ghost”. He drove the Grey Ghost throughout college, and Mahlon later sold it in 1949 to buy a diamond ring for his soon-to-be wife, Bonnie Dale Larzelere.
Mahlon met Bonnie on a blind date on the boardwalk at Ocean Grove in 1947, and he was immediately smitten with her. He married Bonnie on June 18th, 1949 in the Church of Our Savior in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and he graduated the following year from Renourd Training School for Embalmers in New York City. Mahlon served as Funeral Director at the Poulson & Van Hise for four years before becoming a Manager and Owner in 1954. The Thompsons lived in Trenton, NJ, and they later moved to Ewing Township after giving birth to their third child in August 1957.
With three children under the age of 10, Mahlon and Bonnie relocated to Yardley, PA in 1959, and Bonnie gave birth to their fourth and last child in April 1960. The Thompsons lived in Yardley for fourteen years and established long lasting roots in the community. Mahlon was President and Vice President of Civitan Club of Trenton, sat on Board of Directors of the Trenton Jaycees, and was a member of the Loyal Lodge No. 181 F & AM, Scottish Rite Valley and Crescent Temple of Shine, and Greater Trenton Shrine Club.
In 1968, Mahlon purchased the Ewing Charter Service, a transportation firm operating 23 area school buses that initially provided bus service for Ewing Township and later provided service for Lawrence, Princeton, and West Windsor-Regional Schools. Mahlon encouraged the whole family to join business operations, and he involved his wife and children in managing, driving, and cleaning buses. The Thompsons then moved to Cranbury, NJ in 1973, where Mahlon worked side by side with Bonnie and daughter Christine as owners of A.S. Cole Funeral Home from March 1973 to 1991.
Mahlon loved his family, his church, and his community. He was incredibly generous with his time and committed his life to the service of others, whether it be the families he served in the funeral home or the wider community. Mahlon’s faith was also extremely important to him, and both Mahlon and Bonnie were devoted and active members of the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Trenton, NJ for more than twenty years. In 1973, the Thompsons became members of the Cranbury United Methodist Church and remained members for the remainder of their lives. Mahlon spearheaded major projects at Cranbury Church including the elevator (referred to as the “The Mahlon Thompson Thank You Elevator”), chairlift, and renovated kitchen. Mahlon and Bonnie also volunteered for Meals on Wheels for many years and shared breakfast with their local Cranbury Bridge Club friends at Teddy’s every morning for more than a decade.
Mahlon was a committed and steadfast leader throughout his full life. Respected and admired by his peers, Mahlon served in leadership positions in a variety of service and membership organizations. He was a member of the National Funeral Directors Association and both member and past President of Mercer County Funeral Directors Association. Mahlon was also a founding member of the Cranbury Business Association and was instrumental in the development of Cranbury Day. For over 48 years, Mahlon was a member of the Cranbury Lions Club and participated in nearly every committee and fundraiser. He held offices in the Club as well as in the District including Club Secretary (1975-1984), Club President (1988-1989), and 16-D Cabinet Secretary-Treasurer under District Governor Jim Paul (1991-1992). Known as the “unofficial” chaplain to the Cranbury Lions, Mahlon went above and beyond in his service and continually mentored younger Lions. By his “faithfulness, performance, leadership, understanding, and just plain work” Mahlon was an inspiration to those who knew him closely and many others in the community.
For many years, Mahlon and Bonnie traveled to car shows throughout the country, and they often included children and grandchildren. Mahlon was a member of the Central Jersey Antique Car Club, Professional Car Society, and Packard Club. He enjoyed the camaraderie and competition, while his family enjoyed the tours of new cities.
Mahlon is survived by his four children Bonnie Seward of Morrisville, PA (Robert Seward), Douglas Thompson of Mclean, VA (Carol Van Cleef), Christine Thompson of Cranbury, NJ, and Patricia Thompson Gavenda of Cranbury, NJ (Rick Gavenda); grandchildren Michelle Kauffman (Keith Kauffman), Patricia Seward, Marie DiStasio (Joseph Eriksen), Tyler DiStasio, Kathryn Gavenda (Todd Eaton), Andrew Gavenda (Cassi Bekkala), Peter Thompson, and Jamie Thompson; and great grandchildren Devon Kauffman, Justin Kauffman, Louise Gavenda Eaton, Josephine Larzelere Gavenda Eaton, and Dakota Eriksen.
We would like to sincerely thank Mahlon’s caregiver, Donna, for her tireless devotion and love to Mahlon. Family graveside services will be held and officiated by Mahlon’s grandson in the Westminster Cemetery in Cranbury under the direction of the DeMarco Funeral Home, Monroe Twp. NJ. Memorial Contributions may be made to the Cranbury Lions Club, P. O. Box 365, Cranbury, NJ 08512.