Dr. James R. Tompkins, long-time resident of Boone and Deep Gap, N.C., passed away peacefully at 2:55 am on Feb 5th at age 86 in Huntersville.

Jim was a beloved Father and Grandfather and is survived by his sons, Tim Tompkins and his wife Karis of Raleigh, and Dr. Mark Tompkins and his wife Lisa of Davidson. Jim adored his grandchildren Maura, Lillia, Caiden and Arabella. He is also survived by his brother, Tommy and many loving family members in New Jersey, where he grew up.

Jim received his Bachelor of Arts from Mount Saint Mary’s University, his Masters of Arts from Niagara University and his PhD from Catholic University of America.

Jim spent his entire professional life devoted to children. He started his career as the Principal for the Hillcrest Children’s Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children in Washington, DC. He then moved to the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare in Washington DC spearheading the Joint Planning Committee on Child Advocacy and was the Founder of the Institute for the Study of Troubled Children.

He later became the first head of the N.C Governor’s Advocacy Commission on Children and Youth, appointed by Governor Jim Holshouser He was at Professor at UNC-CH and finished his career teaching special education at Appalachian State (1974-2006) and training hundreds of students on how to work with exceptional children.

Jim also authored numerous publication and books, including “Fundamentals of Special Education: What Every Teacher Needs to Know”, as well as a report called “Hell Without Fire” which was an expose on the abuse of children in Training Schools in N.C.

A private service and burial will be held in Boone, NC.

In lieu of flowers and other gifts, the family asks that donations be made to Make A Wish of NC or SafeChild of NC

Online condolences may be sent to the Tompkins family at

Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.

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