Jeri Kehn Thompson is the widow of politician and actor Fred Thompson. The former U.S. Senator from Tennessee and Law & Order actor passed away Sunday at 73 after a recurrence of lymphoma, his family said.
Jeri Kehn Thompson, 49 and the rest of his family was by his side in Nashville when he died, his family’s statement said.
Here’s what you need to know about Jeri Thompson:
1. They Met in 1996 at a Grocery Store Checkout Line & Were Married in 2002
Jeri Kehn met Fred Thompson, then a U.S. Senator, in 1996 when they were both in a checkout line at Kroger’s grocery store in Nashville, according to a 2007 interview with Fox News.
They dated for several years, and were then married in 2002 at the First Congregational Church of Christ in Naperville, Illinois, which is Kehn’s hometown, according to the Washington Post.
It was Thompson’s second marriage. He was previously married to Sarah Knestrick Thompson from 1959 to 1985.
2. They Have 2 Children, Samuel & Hayden
Jeri and Fred Thompson had two children together, a daughter, Harden, born in 2003, and a son, Samuel, born in 2006.
Fred Thompson also had three children with his previous wife.
3. She Grew Up in Illinois & Graduated From DePauw University
Jeri Thompson was born in Nebraska, but was raised in Naperville, Illinois, according to a Washington Post profile.
She graduated from Indiana’s DePauw University in 1998 with a degree in English literature. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
4. She Has Been a Radio Show Host, Columnist & Political Consultant
Like her husband, Jeri Thompson has spent much of her life involved in politics. She has appeared as a co-host on her husband’s radio show, has worked as a columnist for The American Spectator and has been a political consultant.
According to a 2007 profile in the Washington Post, Thompson worked for the Republican National Committee’s public affairs office in 1998.
“She didn’t have a lot of political or media experience, but struck me as a really bright and energetic person I was willing to take a chance on,” Clifford May, her boss, told the Washington Post.
Jeri Thompson also worked for the Senate Republican Conference, and the lobbying firm Burson-Marsteller. She also worked in a political consulting job at Verner, Lipfert, Berhnard, Mcpherson and Hand, a law firm, but left that role to focus on her family.
5. She Played an Influential Role in Thompson’s Presidential Campaign
Jeri Thompson was an influential voice in her husband’s campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, according to the New York Times.
She did face some controversy after Fred Thompson jokingly referred to her as his “trophy wife” during the campaign, when asked by the Associated Press what his most prized possession was. Jeri Thompson was 35 when they married and he was 52, but Fred Thompson later told the New York Times “she is not a home wrecker” and “is accomplished in her own right.”
She told People magazine, “It’s hard not to be defensive. “To think back on how hard you’ve worked, and all anybody thinks about is that you’re a trophy wife.”