PASSINGS: Hall Thompson, Chao-Li Chi, John Crawford

Hall Thompson

Businessman helped build Shoal Creek Country Club

Hall Thompson, 87, a prominent Alabama business leader who developed Shoal Creek Country Club but sparked controversy two decades ago with comments about the admission of blacks as members, died Wednesday, according to officials at the club in Shelby County, south of Birmingham, Ala. The cause of death was not given.

In 1957 he founded Thompson Tractor Co., which became one of the leading companies of its kind. Thompson helped develop Shoal Creek, and the club in suburban Birmingham played host to the PGA Championship in 1984 and 1990 and the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1986.


But Thompson was the subject of controversy before the 1990 PGA Championship after he was quoted as saying the golf club could not be forced to accept blacks as members. Thompson claimed he was quoted out of context, then apologized; the club now has black members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In a statement, club President Bob Luckie and board members said Thompson continued to play a major role at Shoal Creek until his death.

“A lot of people viewed him as a tough, outspoken businessman; and he is outspoken, but he is also very kind and generous,” said Dan Hendley, a former bank president. “He gave a lot of charitable gifts over the years.”

PGA golf will return to Shoal Creek next year with the Regions Tradition, a PGA Champions Tour event for senior golfers.


Chao-Li Chi

Actor known for ‘Falcon Crest’ role

Chao-Li Chi, 83, an actor best known for his regular role on the television series “Falcon Crest,” died in his sleep Oct. 16 at his home in Granada Hills, said his wife, Gan.

Chi had more than 50 television and movie credits during his acting career, including “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993 and “Wedding Crashers” in 2005.


He also was a longtime teacher of the martial art tai chi, including at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. Chi incorporated his knowledge of tai chi into his character on “Falcon Crest,” which ran on CBS from 1981 to 1990. He portrayed the butler of series star Jane Wyman, and his character was expanded to become the martial arts tutor of another character.

Chi was born April 5, 1927, in China. His family moved to the United States when he was 11. Chi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Maryland and earned master’s degrees in dance education from New York University and philosophy from the New School for Social Research in New York.

John Crawford, a veteran character actor, who had a recurring role as Sheriff Ep Bridges in the long-running TV series “The Waltons,” died Sept. 21 in Malibu after a stroke, said his wife, Ann Wakefield. He was 90.

John Crawford: A brief obituary of veteran character actor John Crawford in Thursday’s LATExtra section said he died in Malibu. He died at Los Robles Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. Also, Ann Wakefield was not his wife at the time of his death; she is a former wife and had been his companion. —

-- Times staff and wire reports