A photo of Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson

Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson

Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson (a/k/a “Mr. George” to his international students), an ageless Musician/Teacher/Writer who penned Delaware’s unofficial state song “Small Wonder” and a bilingual children’s coloring book “Stretch Saves the Inland Bays”, left behind his “mortal coil” and departed this world on June 22, 2021 at Select Specialty/St. Francis Hospital, Wilmington, Delaware after making a Herculean effort to recover from lung issues. Crab did “not go gently into that dark night, [but continued to] rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Although a long-time resident of Delaware, two-time Artist Fellowship recipient (DDOA/DSAC), and beloved retired Middletown High School teacher, at heart Crabmeat was a wandering troubadour having called various venues home, most memorably San Francisco/Big Sur/Tahoe, California; Missoula, Montana; and Venice/Chokoloskee/Avon Park, Florida where he played, respectively, at Big Sur River Inn, Top Hat Lounge, Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Marina, Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe, and Wild Turkey Tavern.

Born in Philadelphia while his father was leading Trinidadian troops during World War II, and his mother and aunt were living with their mother awaiting their husbands’ heroic return, Jerry did not meet his father in person until he was two years old. Their trip out West to cowboy country when he was 12 began his life-long love of cowboy songs and remained one of Jerry’s fondest memories of his dad. His early boyhood was blissfully spent in Seattle, Washington swimming in the cold Pacific until a familial move to Wilmington, Delaware. Jerry graduated from Brandywine High School, attending the University of Delaware long enough for his football team to win the 1963 National Championship. However, he did not meet with true scholastic success until he headed to the Midwest attending Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa earning a BA in English with a minor in Spanish in which he became fluent while working a summer construction job and drinking beer with his Mexican amigos. Thence, Jerry continued his studies at Western Illinois University where he earned his MA in English by writing his thesis on Jack Kerouac and commenced teaching. 

Although he began his professional life as an English professor, Crabmeat’s wanderlust and obsession with music soon drew him away from the classroom; first to the “House of Wong”/‘70s San Francisco, and, then on the road with The Live Wire Choir, a traveling band home-based in Montana and featured in “Esquire” magazine, a time which has been chronicled in a recently published memoir. When the band broke up, Jerry returned to the East Coast, teaching, and eventually playing music fulltime in Wilmington and at the Delaware-Jersey beaches sandwiching in a brief sojourn in Venice, Florida.  Crabmeat moved to Middletown, Delaware in 1994 where he continued playing music as well as teaching English in high school and later at the community college level; and, over the years, he added column-writing, playing children’s gigs, and lecturing at local libraries to his repartee. In 2011, Jerry and his wife Janice began working together tutoring and teaching English as a Second Language to international students often incorporating Crab’s music.


Professional Bio written by Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson (excerpted/adapted/annotated): “Jerry ‘Crabmeat’ Thompson plays many styles of music and has recorded gobs of sui generis material.  He has shared a stage with poet Charles Bukowski, Kate Wolfe, Richie Havens, Tiny Tim, Steve Forbert, and Roscoe the Wonder Horse.” 

“For ten years, Crabmeat wrote an award-winning column for ‘Out & About’ magazine. His music has played on Dr. Demento, and he has performed all over North America and in Europe”, Mexico, Spain and Costa Rica.  His discography includes “Animals, Vegetables, and Mineral Springs” which was recorded live at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. One tune “One Ton Tomato” is a Georgia gardening radio show’s theme song. In March 2022, Crabmeat will be inducted into Delaware Rock & Roll Society’s Hall of Fame. 

“Both Thompson and his wife Janice teach English as a Second Language at the University of Delaware and in Salamanca and Valdelavilla, Spain.  His stories about teaching, ‘Fatima’s Flu Shot’ and ‘Mr. Tanimoto’s Hadji’ appeared in ‘Voices,’ an ESL magazine.”

After meeting 26 years ago, Jerry “Crabmeat” and his “last wife” Janice “Crabcake” began their international traveling, studying, and teaching, respectively, in Italy, Ireland, and Spain. With his constantly “itchy feet”, his “always packed bags”, a guitar strung over one shoulder, and a harmonica stuck in his shirt pocket, Crabmeat’s solo excursions included Kitchener, Ontario; Chiapas and Mexicali, Mexico; and Costa Rica.

With his huge smile, twinkling baby blues, proud baldness, quick wit, devilish sense of humor, and indefatigable energy, Jerry “Crabmeat” lived a BIG life walking through the world in wonderment and seeing no obstacles only opportunities for creating songs, writing, cooking amazing meals, continually learning, and experiencing adventures especially through traveling; but, his greatest love was writing, playing, singing, and most of all performing his songs for an appreciative audience.  For those of us lucky enough to have shared his adventures, it has been an unforgettable ride.

Jerry was predeceased by his father and mother, who were college sweethearts at the University of Delaware, George W. Thompson, Sr. and Helen Layton Thompson; father-in-law, Ken Holsinger (PA); brother-in-law, Tom Dyer (CA); former wife, Lisa; and grandson, Milan Loncar (PA).

Crabmeat is tremendously missed but joyously remembered not only by his family, which includes wife, Janice Thompson; daughter, Amy Lounsberry (PA); granddaughter, Jelena Loncar (PA); sister, Joan Thompson Dyer (CA); nephews, Eric, Mark, and Dean Dyer (CA); mother-in-law, Lottie Holsinger (PA); and brother-in-law, David Moist (PA); but also, by generations of students and fans that span the globe from Russia to Saudi Arabia as well as his many US and Canadian friends and musicians who shared a stage or jam session with him.

Janice visited privately with Jerry on Friday, June 25th at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home of Middletown.  Jerry’s “mortal coil” was cremated on the morning of June 28th.

On Sunday, July 11th at 1:00 pm, a virtual service commemorating and celebrating Jerry’s life will be premiered on Youtube by St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Odessa at www.stpaulsodessa.org

At a future date TBA, a spreading of the ashes and an outdoor barbeque/jam session will take place at Lum’s Pond State Park, a place Crab frequented, felt at peace, and where he interred “Sugar Lips”, his much loved and extremely patient “miniature” golden retriever who rode shotgun in his Cadillac.

Condolences are welcome; however, a remembrance or Crabmeat story would be preferred; these will be collected and made available at the TBA jam session.  

They can be sent:

  1. Via email to [email protected] or
  2. Snail mailed to Janice Thompson, 482 Brick Mill Road, Middletown, DE 19709 

Other ways you could honor Crabmeat: 

  1. Donate to: Guitars for Vets, an organization which uses music to help veterans suffering from PTSD by a) going to guitars4vets.org, then b) dedicating your donation to Crabmeat Thompson, a friend and supporter of Guitars for Vets Chapter 32 – this chapter is managed by his former student Bob Hevner at the VA hospital in Perryville, Maryland;
  2. Plant some wildflowers, a butterfly bush, or some “Knockout” roses; or,
  3. Make a space in your day and play, sing, or listen to some music ‘cause that’s what Crab would be doing.

Finally, as Crabmeat would say at the end of his gigs: “support your local musicians” and “don’t forget to generously tip your bartender or waiter/waitress” just before singing “Goodnight Irene”.

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28 Condolences for Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson

  • With Deepest Sympathy and God’s Blessings to Janice, Family, and Friends…..Peace Always…

  • Loved meeting Crabmeat via the Delaware Friend of Folk He graced their stage many times
    His great sense of humor, voice, songs and writings will be missed be so many
    Rock on Crabmeat we will be listening !

  • Mr Thompson is a fantastic teacher and generous human and I shall never forget his lessons and kindness. I have often thought about him over the years since leaving MHS and share stories about my memories of him often. Rage on, Crabmeat.

  • My deepest condolences, Janice. Crab was one of a kind, a national treasure. He will be greatly missed by anyone who had the luck to come in contact with him, even for a moment. Please let me know if there is anything you need.

  • Wonderful memories of 9th grade English class with Mr. Thompson! An inspiration to me in the importance of making learning an experience for every student.

  • My condolences to the family..Crabmeat was one of my favorite teachers he was always so kind and always remembered me even years later running into him at the Acme in middletown. He will be dearly missed

  • RIP to one hell of a man. You were as kind as you were talented Jerry

  • From all the staff and owners at The Celtic Pub in Smyrna, our sincere condolences. We also want to thank Crabmeat for the laughs, smiles, and down right good times he brought to our humble abode! May your spirit live on live and local brother!

  • Crabmeat taught my daughter Kim in the 90s and still asked about her at the Delaware Folk Festival before the pandemic; he truly loved his students. The world will miss him for sure.

  • Crabmeat
    Miss you buddy. Your love got will continue to shine on through your music, kind words and deeds, ALWAYS left in other’s hearts.

  • He was a wonderful friend and teacher in the MOT community. His creative songs helped us learn and encourage me to love reading. He will be greatly missed. Rest easy sir.

  • Janice I am very sorry to hear of the passing of your husband. Wish we had been closer so Sue and I could have been there for you. I am praying for you Janice. If you are on Facebook or messenger let me know and we can keep in contact with you if that is ok. God bless you richly Janice.

  • Mr. Thompson was an excellent teacher and such a wonderful human being. I loved his wonderful sense of humor and admired his strengths and ambition. He always worked hard. Thank you for teaching me. My condolences are woth his entire family. May God bless you all

  • Loved your gigs. Your accomplishments are amazing. RIP

  • Janice
    Sending u my love and prayers
    Find time to rest and grieve
    We will get together real soon
    Love Sue and Mark Holden

  • it has been an honor & a pleasure to have known you Crabmeat…and to have shared a stage back in the early 80’s in Rehoboth Beach….needless to say there is no one to take your place…rest easy in the company if the Great Spirit my friend

  • Thank you for the great memories and sounds of your great talents at the Delmarva Folk Festival …I will miss hearing you sing and play…

  • In the simplest of terms Crabmeat was a classic. Gone but for those who taught /knew with him will forever be better people for having known him.

  • I met Crab nearly 40 years ago when my friends and I forced him to go to breakfast with us after his St. Patrick’s Day gig at Klondike Kate’s. For many years after, we showed up at virtually every performance. I have thought about him and his hilarious repertoire many times over the years and though it has been a while since I’ve seen him, I always loved knowing he was around somewhere. I can only imagine how much he will be missed by those closest to him. He was incomparable and irreplaceable, and the world is a sadder place without him.

  • Crabmeat is forever etched in my heart with musical notes and a smile. Godspeed, my Friend!!!

  • “The Parting Glass” is the good bye toast I’ll remember Jerry by the most. “Glory” is probably the best original song done by any local artist.
    And as Bob Dylan wrote:. “The bottles are done, we’ve killed each one and the table is filled and over flowed. I’ll take my stand and remain as I am, and bid fare thee well and be down the road.”
    Beautiful journeys on your new roads old friend, roommate and brother.

  • Janice,
    I was so sad to hear about Jerry’s passing. He certainly led an extraordinary life and had the opportunity to touch the lives of many. I recently planted a Joe-Pye weed bush, which is suppose to attract butterflies and it seems to be taking, and I most certainly enjoy playing the guitar both whenever I can. Be well and strong.
    Ross

  • Love and Light to you Janis

  • We have known him long enough that our great granddaughter has heard his music. His music has been so much a part of our lives! he could be very funny, but deeply spiritual. The music of Spain entered his heart and flew through his fingers. His musical range and love of life have added so much to ours. He was a a quintessential and man of the world at the same time. Our tears are for you, Janice. It seems impossible.

  • Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson was every bit as original as his name. Some people live for money. Others for power. Still more live without knowing what they want, or why. Crabmeat knew early on what he wanted: play a little music, travel to new places, teach a little or a lot, and love his wife Janice with all the admiration and intensity that rivaled the way the sun loves the moon. I know I will hear more from my dear friend. I think I hear him softly strumming on his guitar as I type. Wait, I think he is about to sing us a song…gotta go.

  • It is with great sorrow that we lose Crabmeat physically, however we can not forget the memorable times we enjoyed his company. He made us laugh at his creative lyrics, and witty humor. So ole friend until we get booked again.

  • I am proud to have played live and on recording with Jerry. I t was always fun! He offered some needed guidance when he told me my dog song, Daisy’s Road Trip was too long. She was lost for 6 days so it didn’t seem too long to me but I shortened it anyway. Thanks Jerry!

  • What are the most entertaining gentlemen I’ve ever talked to I used to work with him at telegraph Road I was looking them up just now just to see how he was doing and maybe getting into some karaoke projects and to find out that he passed I am saddened with great saddest I’m sorry he was a great guy