Industry Mourns the Passing of Jere Thompson Sr.

7-Eleven leader and former NACS president led the growth of the c-store industry.

December 20, 2023

Jere Thompson Sr., who served as president and CEO of The Southland Corporation and led the national and international growth of its 7-Eleven stores, died Tuesday at the age of 91.

Thompson also served as NACS’ 1969-70 president and oversaw the growth of standardized categories, which led to the first NACS State of the Industry Report® in 1970, as well as the introduction of NACS training films and public relations programs.

Jere and his brothers John and Jodie, who also worked at Southland, were credited with creating the modern convenience store and expanding the concept nationally and ultimately internationally.

Thompson’s father, Joseph Thompson, created the concept of the convenience store in 1927 when his Southland Ice Company, which operated ice docks in Dallas that were already open extended hours (7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.) seven days a week, began offering items such as milk, bread and eggs. The stores were later branded as 7-Eleven to reflect their operating hours.

Jere first began working at the ice houses and stores when he was seven years old. After a two-year stint in the Navy and earning a B.B.A. from the University of Texas, he rejoined Southland in 1956. Jere succeeded his father as president of the company and was later named CEO. He remained on the company’s board of directors until 1996.

During his leadership of the company, 7-Eleven saw explosive growth, introducing new products and offerings, including the first self-serve fountain beverages and to-go coffee, 24-hour operations and iconic brands like the Slurpee and Big Gulp. As the company grew to more than 3,000 stores, it went public in 1968 and was listed on the NYSE four years later.

Thompson also oversaw the expansion of the company overseas. It opened its first franchise in Japan in May 1974, which led to the global embrace of the convenience concept.

“We had to be agile. The products we stocked and sold were always changing to meet customers’ needs,” Thompson told Convenience Store News for its 40th anniversary issue. He also told the publication that “gasoline was the single thing that most dramatically impacted the convenience industry.”

Thompson played a central role in the growth of NACS. He was named to the NACS board of directors in 1965 and served on the board until 1973.

Recalling his first involvement with NACS in a 2010 interview, Jere said a colleague recommended that he become active in the organization. Jere’s initial response was “What is NACS.” After learning more, he visited the NACS office, which was then in Washington, D.C. “I went up there and, of course, didn’t know a soul … but I’ve become very good friends with all those who were on the board at that time and as long as I was associated with NACS.”

Thompson and his wife Peggy, who died in 2013, had seven children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“We are saddened by the passing of Jere and our thoughts are with the entire Thompson family as they celebrate his life and legacy. His impact on the 7-Eleven brand is iconic and will be felt for generations. We’re grateful for his many years of service and dedication," 7-Eleven Inc. noted in a statement shared with NACS.