Sad news for the Big Brother family this week. Donny Thompson, a fan-favorite player from Big Brother 16, lost his father Ralph Thompson this week. The news was shared with the fandom by fellow Big Brother player Kevin Schlehuber — he and Thompson have become close friends since appearing on different seasons of the show. Here’s what you need to know.
Ralph Thompson Died on January 5
Merry Christmas from our family to yours! pic.twitter.com/I6PsddXY9B
— Donny Thompson (@DonnyThompsonBB) December 25, 2019
According to the obituary, Ralph Thompson of Albemarle, North Carolina, died on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, in his home at the age of 83. He was a former Gunner’s Mate Third Class in the United States Navy and was survived by his wife, four children, three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
In a tweet, Schlehuber shared the news with the Big Brother family, “I have to share this with all of you and @CBSBigBrother family. My GOOD FRIEND & the NICEST guy you’ll ever meet @DonnyThompsonBB Dad passed away, Donny & his family R extremely close, so I did speak to him sent my love, if you’d like to send UR LOVE I THINK IT WOULD BE SO KIND.”
Several former players jumped in to offer their condolences, including Big Brother 20’s Scottie Salton and Kaitlyn Herman, and Celebrity Big Brother player Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray.
“Send my love to Donny and his family,” wrote Herman. McGrath added, “I’m sorry to hear about that @DonnyThompsonBB, my condolences to you and your family.”
Thompson has started responding to the condolences, writing, “Thanks from me and my family, Kevin. Hardest thing we ever went through. Love you like a brother. Thank you all for the love.”
There is no cause of death listed and Thompson has not spoken about his dad’s health on social media other than to post an update in 2018 when his father was three-months cancer-free after a battle with esophageal cancer.
Thompson’s Parents Were Together For Over 60 Years
— Donny Thompson (@DonnyThompsonBB) August 23, 2020
Ralph Thompson was married to Donny’s mom Gaynelle for over 60 years. Donny would post photos of the family every year on his parents’ anniversary on August 22. In 2020, Donny posted of picture of himself, his parents, sisters Penny and Susan, and brother Tommy and wrote, “Today is my mom and dad’s 61st anniversary! Wishing them both continued love and happiness for many years to come. #TrueLove.”
Donny Thompson was an extremely well-liked Big Brother player. His fellow houseguests loved him and he was voted America’s Favorite Player for season 16. Outside of the game, he has forged friendships with Schlehuber, Ramses Soto, Glenn Garcia, Casey Turner, and Bunky Miller. It looks like a lot of the outside-the-game friendships are forged through the Hearts of Reality events where reality TV stars raise money for Give Kids the World.
— Donny Thompson (@DonnyThompsonBB) September 10, 2018
— Donny Thompson (@DonnyThompsonBB) October 10, 2017
In 2018, Thompson visited Schlehuber’s family in Boston, writing on Twitter, “Friends are FAMILY we meet along the way! … I want to thank my pal @BB19KEVIN and his WONDERFUL FAMILY for their hospitality this past weekend. He showed me the best time in BOSTON!!!”
Big Brother 23 will return in the summer of 2021. Until then, we might get a new season of Big Brother Canada this winter/spring.