Died: 1954, Englewood, New Jersey
Married: Ann St. George, Jean Sinclair Earl, Joan Tree
Alexis Thompson, son of the president of the Inland Steel Company, inherited several million dollars in steel stock when he was fifteen. He graduated from Yale University, and served as a corporal in the Army. He made millions selling eye care products.
He bought the Philadelphia Eagles in 1940 and brought them to Saranac Lake from 1946 thru 1948 to train on the Petrova athletic fields during the summer months, staying at the Eagle's Nest on Lake Street. He is said to have dated Betty Grable, Lana Turner, and Gene Tierney. He was introduced to bobsledding by Tuffy Latour and Charlie Keough, among others, and he eventually became a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic Bobsled team; he opened Tuffy's Tavern with Latour. He also built the Thompson Building
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 21, 1954
Lex Thompson is Found Dead in Apartment
Alexis Thompson, 40-year-old millionaire sportsman well known to many Saranac Lake residents, was found dead in his apartment at 185 East Palisades Ave., Englewood, N.J., yesterday.
William Greenfield, assistant medical examiner, said death due was to natural causes.
Police said the sportsman had apparently suffered a heart attack and groped for the telephone to call for aid. Before he could reach it he crumpled up in the hallway of his luxurious apartment.
Clad only in night clothes, his body was found many hours later but not until neighbors noticed the lights had been burning and newspapers had piled up at his door.
Death is believed to have occurred Saturday.
Funeral services and cremation will take place tomorrow.
Mr. Thompson inherited a fortune estimated at $3,650,000 when his father, David P. Thompson, president of the Inland Steel Company, died in 1930. In recent years his worth was estimated at $5,000,000. He was the grandson of Alexis Thompson, founder of the Republic Iron and Steel Company.
Mr. Thompson attended St. Paul's Academy, Concord, N.H., and Andover Academy and was graduated in 1936 from Yale College where played on the soccer and lacrosse teams.
In 1936 he was a member of the American men's field hockey team at the Olympic Games in Berlin.
He was an expert bobsledder and competed in 1958 in the world's championship bobsled races at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Bobsledding, often referred to as the champagne of thrills, brought Alexis Thompson to this area.
Through the years he drove a four-man sled composed of many local sledding enthusiasts at well as his personal friends from near and far. He was chairman of the Billy Fisk Memorial Committee which gave annual trophies to winners of the national four-man bobsled championship event.
Mr. Thompson was the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles National Professional Football team which trained in Saranac Lake from 1947 to 1949 when the club was purchased by a syndicate of 100 businessmen at Philadelphia.
Thompson purchased a summer hotel at 51 Lake Street to quarter his team. The Eagles Nest, as it is still known, was remodeled by him at a cost of more than $50,000. The building housed more than 80 persons. His private apartment, located on the basement Ievel, had a two-level living room furnished in barn lumber with picture windows overlooking the Petrova Avenue area. The sleeping rooms were of knotty pine and the recreation room had nearly 2,000 square feet of unobstructed floor space.
Between 1949 when he sold The Eagles and in 1953, when the property was purchased, the building was taken over by the New York Football Giants as their training quarters. For several winters, the New York Rangers hockey team also camped there.
In 1946 Mr. Thompson dreamed of building an arena in Saranac Lake. When he was unable to purchase sufficient property he drew up plans for the Thompson Building which is located on Broadway.
The building was actually completed in the Spring of 1948, but in Dec. 1947, George and Andrew Stearns took first occupancy with The Western Auto.
A restaurant known as Tuffy's Tavern, also located on the main street level, was managed for Mr. Thompson by Tuffield Latour. The upstairs of the structure contained Mr. Thompson's own apartment in addition to several offices.
On Nov. 1, 1952, the Thompson Building was purchased by Glen R. Bronback, of New York City, distributor for General Electric Appliances.
The final sale of the property here severed Mr. Thompson's business connections with Saranac Lake, although he frequently visited here.
Mr. Thompson delved into other fields such as distributing an eye solution for hay fever victims, real estate, midget auto racing and professional tennis.
During World War II he entered the Army as a private and left the service as a captain.
Last June he married Joan Tree. She was visiting relatives in California at the time of his death. Previously Mr. Thompson had been married to the former Ann St. George and the former Jean Sinclair Earl. Both marriages ended in divorce.
Besides his widow, he is survived by his mother, Mrs. W.C. Beaufort, of New York City.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 30, 1966
Millionaire Alexis Thompson Gave Saranac Lake Glamour
The short, happy days of Alexis Thompson in Saranac Lake have become a part of fading community history. The only monument left which bears his name is the Thompson Building.
Alexis was a fair-haired boy who inherited $5,000,000 when he was 15 years old. Eventually some of it found its way to Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Lex, who was one of the exceptionally handsome golden people, had a strong interest in sports, and his love of this region prompted him to bring the Philadelphia Eagles professional football team here to train following the war.
The Eagles Nest on Lake Street is still another small reminder of the days when Alexis had his heart in the mountains. The "Nest" housed his football gladiators when the big star was Steve Van Buren and Tommy Thompson called the signals in the successful bid for the National Football League crown.
Alexis, like so many who were flush, lived high, wide and handsome, but not too long. His amours numbered such celebrated international beauties as Gene Tierney, Betty Grable, Lana Turner and the famed Chesterfield Girl Betty Jane Hess, Renay Curtis and model Louise Stanley. They were all a part of the big years when Alexis was running seven corporations from his plush offices in Manhattan's Madison Square Garden building.
His love for Lake Placid stemmed from bobsledding and Alexis was, a fixture on the streets of the Olympic Village wearing his green bobsled jacket and surrounded by the members of his rather exotic looking team. Those who introduced Lex to the sport were the late Tuffy Latour, Paul Dupree, Charlie Keough, Don Dupree, and others who still remain in this area.
He was so successful in adapting to the daredevil sport that he became a member of the Olympic Bobsled Team in 1948. Somewhere along the line he became disenchanted with Lake Placid and its seasonal glitter, and transferred his allegiance to Saranac Lake.
It was during this period in the life of the millionaire sportsman that Saranac Lake benefited in many ways. He was an inexhaustible well of ideas for the village. His endeavours were sincere and helped many to gain a kind of economic stability. Alexis friendship with Tuffy Latour led him to open the once famous Tuffy s Tavern with his admired bobsledding pal in the spotlight and deservedly so.
If a building were to be constructed like the Thompson Building, he gave the contracts to the Dupree brothers, all of whom were bobsledders and personal friends over a span of several years.
They were his guests in New York, Philadelphia or wherever he chose to invite and entertain them singly or in groups. It was his way of showing a certain ingrained sense of gratitude.
Most of his plans for the economic resurgence of Saranac Lake never materialized or were curtailed for one reason or another. The wealthy playboy, sought after and lionized by so many and for so long, died alone in his New York apartment at a comparatively young age . . . even for millionaires whose lives often flash like a comet through brief skies.
Alexis Thompson was a millionaire, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1941 to 1949; he was also a poor judge of character.
He renovated a large, old cure cottage on Lake Street, called it the Eagle's Nest, and had his team training for several summers on the Petrova Avenue athletic fields.
"He loved Saranac Lake," Bill McLaughlin remembers. "There's no end to the good he would have done for this town if people hadn't abused him."
Alexis Thompson was rich and generous, and many an unscrupulous opportunist took full advantage of his unwariness. One of the last times Irving Altman saw him, "He was in Downing and Cane's, surrounded by parasites. He didn’t seem to understand that these people didn't care about him — they just wanted his money."
Finally, after one particularly outrageous deal involving a team of Huskies in Lake Placid, a cruel dawning came to Alexis Thompson; and he left the area he had so loved, never to return. When he died, he died alone in a hotel room — broke.
Original text by Philip L. Gallos, from a piece on the Loomis Block.
- Adirondack Daily Enterprise, p. 8, March 30, 1966
- Forbes, Gordon, Tales from the Eagles' Sidelines", Sports Publishing LLC, 2002, p. 150.