SCARBOROUGH — What’s an appropriate gift for a beloved father’s 100th birthday? For one family, it was the decision to donate $25,000 to the Eastern Trail Alliance’s Close the Gap Project.

Philip Thompson, a retired physician who now resides in Portland but was a resident of South Portland for more than 40 years, will celebrate his 100th birthday on May 11. Thompson’s six children donated the $25,000 on their father’s behalf.

Meanwhile, The John Andrews Memorial Eastern Trail 5K will be held on May 20 at 9 a.m.

Sponsored by O’Reilly’s Cure, the run honors John Andrews, the founder of the Eastern Trail, who died Feb. 20.

“Without John there wouldn’t be an Eastern Trail today,” said Carole Brush, executive director of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “His vision and untiring spirit gave us the enthusiasm to keep going.”

Andrews will be honored at the alliance’s May 11 annual meeting in Wells.

Registration fees for the 5K are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event. One beer is included for those 21 years of age or older. Participants can register at

Proceeds from the race will benefit the Eastern Trail Alliance and go directly to the Close the Gap campaign.

The Eastern Trail Alliance is now just under $550,000 away from starting its 1.6-mile Close the Gap project.

The alliance has already raised more than $3.25 million towards the $3.8 million project, closing in on the funding needed to make the proposal a reality. The funding must be in place before construction can begin, most likely in 2018, according to Alliance representatives.

The Close the Gap project would connect the trail in South Portland to Scarborough. Bridging the area would create a 16-mile continuous off-road trail from Bug Light in South Portland to downtown Saco.

The 1.6 miles would link the Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland and a section of trail in Scarborough that ends at the Nonesuch River, near Eastern Road.

Cyclists and pedestrians now have to traverse the streets of Gary Marietta Way, Highland Avenue, Black Point Road and Eastern Road to continue on the trail.

Thompson, a family physician who practiced in Portland and specialized in rheumatoid arthritis into his 70s, was an advocate of trails and exercise.

Thompson’s son Frederic Thompson, of South Portland, said his father was a great believer in a healthy diet and exercise.

“He believed you didn’t have to be a marathon runner. Everyday citizens could get exercise and see health benefits,” Thompson said. “He practiced what he preached.”

Thompson said his father had six children and each of them donated some of the $25,000 to honor their father and his legacy. Thompson said when his father found out about the donation he also added funds.

Thompson also said the family will give additional funds to the trail in the future.

Family members donating to the $25,000 were Frederic Thompson of South Portland; Nate Thompson of Scarborough; Benjamin Thompson of Freeport; Julie Fralich of New Gloucester; Audrey Price of Haverhill, Massachusetts; and William Thompson of Palo Alto, California.

Thompson said his father was an early supporter of Portland Trails.

His father not only offered financial assistance to build the Portland trails, but he also volunteered his time to clear brush on trails, work field days, and other tasks.

“He had been a long time supporter, right from the beginning,” Thompson said.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Leigh Tillman, of South Portland walks to an appointment along the Eastern Trail in South Portland on her way to an appointment. Tillman said one of the reasons she moved to Ferry Village was the proximity to the Eastern Tail. She uses the trail for errands such as grocery shopping and for exercise, including running and cross country skiing in the winter. The late John Andrews looks down at the gap over the Nonesuch River along the Eastern Trail. A memorial run will be held in Andrews honor on May 20.

To mark Philip Thompson’s 100th birthday on May 11, his family donated $25,000 to the Eastern Trail Alliance’s Close the Gap project in his honor Thompson.




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