'Our hearts are in shock': Former Fargo youth pastor dies at 66

Cal Thompson's Facebook page has been flooded with memories of his friendship, dedication and passion for service since his daughter announced his passing.

First Assembly youth pastor Cal Thompson
Since the 2009 flood fight, First Assembly youth pastor Cal Thompson has left a map of his home hanging in his kitchen. The map was created when a corps of volunteers kept a 24-hour-a-day rotation to make sure his home stayed dry. At the time, Thompson was recovering from a dissected aorta.
J. Shane Mercer / The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO — The Rev. Cal Thompson, a former youth pastor who touched countless lives through his work locally and on mission trips to Chicago, died Saturday, July 2, at age 66.

His daughter, Tanya Meyer, posted the news to Facebook early Saturday evening.

"Our hearts are in shock- heavy and so saddened," she wrote. "He leaves behind his wife of 41 years, 2 daughters and 8 grandkids."
An outpouring of love followed the post, with people remembering Thompson's friendship, dedication, passion for service and impact on their lives.

He worked as a youth pastor for 28 years at Northview Church in south Fargo and retired in September 2020.

In February 2021, Thompson went on his 30th mission trip to Chicago's Englewood neighborhood to help impoverished people through his nonprofit called Reach the Heart. He returned for his 31st trip in late June, Meyer wrote.


"Chicago was made better because of your life and influence," Sharles Johnson, a Chicago native, wrote on Thompson's Facebook page.

Another person affected by his mission trips, Richard Williams, wrote, "Thank you for coming to the south side of Chicago and making an impact."

The mission trips included concerts, meals for the community and handmade gifts, including hand-sewn pillowcases with encouraging words.

“Nobody loves life or people more than Pastor Cal,” Garrett Frier, a longtime friend, said in February 2021. “He has such a joy for life and people. Even when walking through difficult situations, he still exudes passion and excitement and even a sense of wonder. It’s contagious.”

Thompson had a history of heart issues beginning in 2009, when a near-fatal event left him hospitalized as the Red River encroached on his home. He had a second heart-related incident in 2019, which ultimately spurred his retirement.

The Rev. Cal Thompson uses a megaphone to direct traffic in the summer of 2020 in the parking lot of Fargo's Northview Church as motorists received free 25-pound boxes of produce. Special to The Forum

Kaity Young is a news editor at The Forum. She joined the company in 2018 and enjoys correcting grammar with Midwestern flair.
What to read next
Cass County State's Attorney Birch Burdick said he didn't see a direct conflict in the shooting of Andrew Martinez, but he sent prosecutorial decisions to North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to avoid the appearance of conflict.
Fargo police are urging anyone with information about this incident, or what may have led up to it, to contact them at 701-235-4493. Anonymous tips can be submitted by texting keyword FARGOPD and the tip to 847411.
The move comes in the wake of a 7-2 decision by the Fargo School Board last week to rescind an earlier decision requiring that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited at the start of each board meeting.
Josey Balenger joined the museum as its executive director on Aug. 1.